The story of the indomitable American POWs who endured "Alcatraz", the Hanoi prison camp where North Vietnam locked up its most dangerous and subversive prisoners, and the wives who fought to bring them home.
During the Vietnam War, hundreds of American prisoners of war faced years of brutal conditions and horrific torture at the hands of communist interrogators who ruthlessly plied them for military intelligence and propaganda. Determined to maintain their code of conduct, the inmates of the Hanoi Hilton and other POW camps developed a powerful underground resistance. To quash it, the North Vietnamese singled out its eleven leaders, Vietnam's own "dirty dozen", and banished them to an isolated jail that would become known as Alcatraz. None would leave its solitary cells and interrogation rooms unscathed; one would never leave.
As these men suffered in Hanoi, their wives launched an extraordinary campaign that would ultimately spark the POW/MIA movement. When the survivors finally returned, one would receive the Medal of Honor, another became a U.S. Senator, and a third still serves in Congress. A story of survival and triumph in the vein of Unbroken and Band of Brothers, Defiant will inspire anyone wondering how courage, faith, and brotherhood can endure even in the darkest of situations.
"Defiant is a riveting tribute to the unyielding men who endured years of brutal captivity as POWs in Vietnam and the families they left behind. The men of the ‘Alcatraz Eleven’ are true American heroes and their extraordinary stories will serve as an inspiration for generations to come." (Senator John McCain, POW, 1965-1973)
"These heroic men and women remind us how courage, devotion, and faith can triumph even in the darkest of times. In Defiant, Alvin Townley masterfully tells the inspirational and unforgettable story of our Vietnam POWs and the Alcatraz Eleven." (President Jimmy Carter)
"In a fast-flowing narrative replete with reconstructed dialogue, Townley writes reverently of these POWs." (Publishers Weekly)
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Wow! All I can say is Wow!
- Rick "Rick H."
Unforgetable history, biography, inspirational
I loved the resilliance of these men, who supported each other through depravations of food, contact, water, cleanliness... their defiance by creating a code to communicate - sometimes behind the guards' back, sometimes with their averted eyes.
The torture depictions were difficult to listen to, but they were not grotesque for the sake of shock.
The homecoming, but even some days in the jail where some members were feeling so guilty for "breaking the code", the support they offered each other was so touching that I teared up.
I fully agree with the reviewers who said he told the story with incflection and feeling, but did not compete with a strong narrative that stands on its own.
This book, though not easy to read, it unforgetable and unputdownable. I knew very little of the Vietnam war, since many histories have been written about WWI and WWII (and rightfully so). Read it!