Customer Review

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It must have been hell, October 30, 2004
This review is from: When Hell Was in Session (Paperback)
Here is yet another first rate tale of an American P.O.W. in North Vietnam. The prisoner is Navy pilot Jeremiah Denton, who was based on the carrier "Independence". His A6 aircraft was shot down in July of 1965. Denton spent the following 8+ years in captivity until the general release in the Spring of 1973. The title refers to the torture "sessions" Denton and his colleagues suffered at the hands of their captors. This reviewer has read several P.O.W. accounts. While all are similar in that they demonstrate great bravery and perseverance in brutal situations, each is also unique: WHWS focuses on the military command structures that existed in prison despite rigorous Vietnamese efforts to stymie them. The senior military commanders/prisoners like Admiral Stockdale, Colonel Robinson Risner and others obviously possessed a tremendous pride and strove to imbue that pride in all P.O.Ws. Denton pulls few punches. It startled this observer to learn that not all prisoners always agreed with the "program" and not all P.O.W.s were the best of buddies behind the walls. The author stresses the ubiquitous "tap code" that allowed communication within the prison walls. There is even an introductory chart to tapping! Denton glosses over his 4(!) years in solitary and concentrates on the other 4 years he was free to "mingle" with his fellow Americans. There is a noticeable lack of venom and bitterness toward the North Vietnamese in the text. The reader may suspect that Denton has come to terms with his years in the Hanoi Hilton and other garden spots of the North. WHWS is rated 5 stars with only 2 minor demerits: One is the absence of ANY maps. Most war books gloss over maps but surely the publisher could have inserted one! The other weakness is the appallingly small type in my paperback edition. Those interested in Admiral/Senator Denton's story may wish to verify before purchase how the many available editions of WHWS handle these issues.
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