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Over the last two months I’ve been able to read two fantastic books that, although technically unrelated, harmonized very nicely and really helped further my admiration of humans and the human spirit. Both came highly recommended to me, did not disappoint and now rank up toward the top of my all time favorite books.

I listened to these as audiobooks which, although missing a few pictures that help give a little context, allowed me to be transported into the worlds of a couple of remarkable men and their stories even more so than reading about them on paper. Two books about two men, Joe Rantz and Louie Zamperini, existing at the same time and on journeys both somewhat similar and vastly different. The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand deliver masterfully written stories that teach us about history, inspire us to overcome and encourage us to love and forgive.

The Boys in the Boat is the story of Joe Rantz and 8 other American rowers on “their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Olympics” that brought a me whole new appreciation of rowing, pre World War II history and what pre and depression era life was like. Educational, inspiring, thought provoking and engaging from start to finish, this was an incredible book.

I followed that with Unbroken, the story of an 1936 Olympic runner named Louie Zamperini who, after making a splash as a 19 year old track phenom, ends up in WWII, crashing into the Pacific Ocean, being captured by the Japanese and undergoing some of the worst torture, abuse and humiliation one could imagine. Shocking, engulfing, saddening and uplifting all wrapped into one book, this was an awesome story about how remarkable humans can be.

I recommend them both very highly and in the order that I read them, as The Boys in the Boat takes you pre depression to the 1936 Olympics and Unbroken overlaps very nicely, ranging from late 1920s/early 1930s all the way through the war and beyond. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks these are incredible stories as both are being made into movies, with Unbroken set to come out Christmas time this year and The Boys in the Boat sometime next year. Give them a read or listen and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. I will apologize ahead of time if you 1) can’t stop reading at some or several points resulting in you going to bed late or being late for things, 2) cry a couple (or quite a few) times and/or 3) give your loved ones a big, long and meaningful hug on more than one occasion.

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