Study Guide

Unbroken Chapter 19

By Laura Hillenbrand

Chapter 19

Two Hundred Silent Men

  • After three weeks, the ship docks at Yokohama. From there, the men take a Chevy to the POW camp, where they are greeted by… wait for it…
  • Jimmie Sasaki. (Remember him? Louie's fake college friend from Chapter 5.)
  • Sasaki literally says, "We meet again" (4.19.16), as though this is a James Bond movie—one of the bad ones.
  • Sasaki tells Louie that he's head interrogator of all POWs in Japan (is he telling the truth?).
  • All the POWs are super skinny, like models at a Versace fashion show, and communicate in Morse code like they're Charlie's Angels.
  • It turns out that this isn't a POW camp—the Japanese call it a "secret interrogation center" (4.19.20) as a loophole around the Geneva Convention. (A loophole that might end up around someone's neck…)
  • Louie is forbidden to speak to anyone but the guards, and not allowed to make eye contact with the other captives. Basically, the same conditions as being on tour with Katy Perry.
  • Phil and Louie are put in cells far away from one another.
  • Each day, the men have to do intense exercises and eat a breakfast of fetid slop.
  • The men are also beaten daily. One of the routine sayings is "Iron must be beaten while it's hot; soldiers must be beaten while they're fresh" (4.19.30).
  • The most feared man in the camp is Sueharu Kitamura, also known as "the Quack" or "the Butcher" (4.19.35).
  • However, there is also a nice guard named Hirose, who tells the men to scream and only pretends to beat them.
  • When they're not eating slop, they're eating rancid rice and other food infested with rat droppings, maggots, and sand—the men call this food "all dumpo" (4.19.39) (though we'd call it Hot Pockets).
  • Many of the men get a disease called beriberi, which sounds cute but leads to numbness, confusion, paralysis, death, and giant testicles.
  • Under no circumstances is a POW to be saved or escaped, and Louie knows it's only a matter of time before they are all executed.