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Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey Hardcover – December 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

LEO THORSNESS received his Medal of Honor after he was released from his North Vietnamese prison in 1973. From 1988 to 1992, he served as a senator from Washington State. Mr. Thorness now lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1st Hardcover Ed edition (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159403236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594032363
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
9%
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See all 90 customer reviews
You are an amazing man and make our country proud.
Annie Ferguson
At a time when true heroes are few, it is inspiring to read the story of Leo Thorsness and his fellow American captives held in North Vietnam.
Edward J. Silverstein
Thank you LTC Leo Thorsness for your service and thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us.
Winston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Frank Farrell on February 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have known Leo Thorsness for several years and cannot imagine ever again having the great good fortune and high honor of meeting anyone with the character of extraordinary integrity, modesty, and fortitude that he has so devotedly given his family and country! Leo's marvelous book, SURVIVING HELL, reminds me of why I think every day of my own schoolboy friend, "Nugie" Grubb, the return of whose tortured remains were eventually the very first notice to his family, his parents and wife Evie and 4 very young sons, in 1973, only learning after 7 years of silent, patient, and hopeful waiting, that the North Vietnamese had tortured and killed him very early in his January 1966 captivity. The other extraordinary heroes in these stories - like Gaylee Thorsness and their daughter Dawn, and too many other POW families - are chronicled in the collaborative efforts of the late Evie Grubb and Carol Jose in their book, YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN regarding the desperate struggles in their search for information and truth from the North Vietnamese and OUR government, through The National League of POW Families. Leo's book should be a clarion wake up call to all of us, that we will NEVER again allow this to happen to the men and women of our military, and/or their families! None of ALL that I have read over the years, have impacted me as has Leo's humble courage in recalling for US this example of "man's inhumanity to man"! With Sincere & Respectful admiration...and Gratitude!
Bless Them ALL!
Bud Farrell, Korean War B-29 Gunner, Author NO SWEAT (An Amazon listed book)
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bruce N. Whitman on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Leo Thorsness is one of only five living United States Air Force Medal of Honor Recipients. He is one of our nation's greatest heroes. "Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey" is his compelling memoir which makes us all appreciate our freedom. Leo writes with passion. He very realistically articulates the horrors of war and imprisonment. "Surviving Hell" teaches us important lessons, including how very fortunate we are. Recommend the book most highly.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gary D. Burkholder on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a short quick to the point book. It holds your intrest about a Medal of honor winner an a great american. It suprises you with its humor. Thank you Leo we are all in your debt. Viet Nam veteran
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Krone on February 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
. Surviving Hell: A POWs Journey is a beautifully constructed set of twenty-two chapters written as short essays. It weaves Leo's life before, after and during his imprisoned six years including a full solitary year in a tiny cell. It is an unforgettable story about why hundreds of Americans survived because of their faith, their families, their courage, their love of freedom in America. It relates the sad stories of some of the twenty percent of American POWs who could not survive the Middle Ages torture and cruelty of the North Vietnamese guards.

. No previous book about American POWs has described so well the strategies those remarkable men used in their daily effort to maintain their humanity and about their refusal to be stripped of their basic dignity through brutal and cruel torture. Americas North Vietnam POWs endured the longest wartime captivity of any POWs in United States history. This is a book impossible to put aside once your reading begins. It is an historically accurate description of experiences resembling Hell at its worst. I am privileged to have flown with Leo Thorsness and been friends with Gaylee and Leo for forty years.
No one has served America with more courage or distinction. His Medal of Honor tells only part of his remarkable life story.

Bob Krone, Ph.D., Colonel, USAF (Ret)
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ron Standerfer on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roy Thompson the British Press Lord once said, "What makes a hero truly great is that they never despair." Such a man is Leo Thorsness, a former Air Force fighter pilot who endured six long years of constant torture and mind numbing boredom with unflinching courage and gritty determination. The experiences of this remarkable man are chronicled in his recently published book, Surviving Hell, A POW's Journey.

On April 19, 1967, Thorsness secured a place in Air Force history when he and his backseater, Harry Johnson, came to the rescue of a fellow F-105 crew who had been shot down by a MIG and were encircled by four or five more MIGs as they dangled in their parachutes. In the ensuing battle, Thorsness shot down two of the MIGs and then, in a courageous act of sheer bluff, drove the remainder away even though he was out of ammo. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Meanwhile, he and Johnson needed just twelve more missions to reach the magic number of one hundred, which would allow them to return home. But it was not to be. Less than two weeks later, Thorsness and Johnson were shot down while attacking a SAM site in North Vietnam and were subsequently taken prisoner.

Like many downed American airmen, Thorsness was badly injured during his high speed ejection. Severe damage to both knees plus back injuries made it virtually impossible to walk when he was captured. But this seemed to matter little to his captors who kicked, beat, and half dragged him through the long journey to Hoa Lo prison, otherwise known as the Hanoi Hilton. It was there that his journey through hell truly began.

Many of the details of his POW life I had read in other books.
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