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Showing 1-10 of 160 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 211 reviews
on March 15, 2014
I just finished this book this morning, and even as I sit to write a review I am at a loss for words. I did not grow up knowing details of, or understanding much of the Vietnam War. I was not yet alive when this all took place. I know it was a painful time in our country's history that so many have extremely passionate opinions about, and to that I do not assume to hold such an opinion. I always wanted to understand more.

Alvin Townley's "Defiant" allowed me to see through a peephole into the human spirit of men like I can only hope we still have fighting for our country today. The story of the eleven men who were imprisoned in Alcatraz in Northern Vietnam were men of character, courage, faith, integrity and valiance. The torture that was brought to life on the pages of Townley's book forced me to lay the book aside more than once, yet I could not put it down. I am proud to be a part of a country whose history includes these men, along with their wives and families back home who fought tirelessy for their lives and release.

I felt heartache and sickness as I read of the days and weeks of endless torture. I cried tears of joy and pride that welled up in the end as the men returned to lives that had been put on hold for them, luckier than I know many were. Though not often, I did laugh - being a born and bred Texan it made me chuckle to read that Sam Johnson ate Tex Mex for five days straight upon his return to the Lone Star State.

I read a lot, though not a lot of historical non-fiction. However, I would recommend this book to everyone who would like to have a glimpse of this time in our history, or into the lives of these men who served us so well. Alvin, great job on telling their stories to the rest of us!
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VINE VOICEon March 13, 2014
I am always impressed when an author who did not live through the events he is reporting does such a masterful job of recreating an era he did not know. This author, Alvin Townley, has done just that with his riveting, unflinching account of the torturous ordeal of the US POW's held in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Like many Americans of my generation who were in high school and college during that war, I paid much more attention to protesting the war than to the plight of the POWs being held there. Of course, as I learned in this book, the secrecy of the Department of Defense and the ineptness of LBJ's Department of State did little to publicize what was going on, keeping us in the dark about the prison gulag where our men were imprisoned. I want to thank Alvin Townley for writing this book, and for writing it so well. I could not put it down. Please Mr. Townley, take on some other important and untold stories from our history and keep writing. You did a superb job with this one.
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on April 26, 2017
I can't tell you how much I cried. Excellent book , written well and really let a reader what was in these guys souls. I do now remember as a kid sitting at the tv watching these POW's get off the plane with their families waiting. It's taken me over 40 years to discover what I was really watching as a 13 year old. I wish all these people who decide to send troops some where would read a few books like that and not send our guys out to fight other people's wars, and die for other countries. It's just not right. God bless all soldiers.
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on May 3, 2017
This is one of the most moving and historical accounts of what our POWs had to endure at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Despite the brutal torture, meager diet, filthy and inhumane conditions, the captives fought their captors each and every day. They established simple yet effective methods of communicating with each other as they tried to keep the population of the prison informed and acting as a unit.
This is a MUST READ! Also highly recommend the book Five Years To Freedom.
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on July 24, 2015
This is must read for readers who are interested in the Day to Day Lives of the POW's who where imprisoned in Hanoi during the Vietnam War.
The author , Alvin Townley , obviously researched the personal stories of a number of P.OW.'s but in particular a primary group who remained committed to honoring the Military Code of Honor . These men were beaten and tortured both physically and mentally by the North Vietnamese on a 24/7 basis.
For the reader, it is secondary if one believed or did not believe in the Vietnam War as the book is about courage and a believe in country without consideration to life and well being. They survived through the secret creation of communications and insistence that each individual follow the Military Code even when faced with daily torture for long periods of time. Many experienced torture that resulted in permanent damage to their bodies which could not be reconstructed upon their release.
Although a large portion of the book is about the POW's it also provides a detailed description of how their wives and family members created a challenge to our President and Secretary of State to assure the release of their family members became a major part of the negotiations at the
Paris Peace Talks, that eventually ended the war, Their efforts embarrassed both the U.S. State Department and the Vietnamese negotiators and and in turn forced them to make the welfare and release of their men a priority with the negotiation process..
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on March 28, 2014
I was just a few months old when these brave men came home. Like most Americans I knew that there were POW's as a result of the war in Vietnam, but I had never heard nor read any of their stories in detail. I was aware that one had earned the Medal of Honor, but again had no clue as to how it was earned. This book provides great detail as to how and why Jim Stockdale received the MOH, as well the story of the 10 other men who were isolated to Alcatraz, a prison for trouble makers within the Hilton. They all tried to live up to the Code of Conduct set forth by their military branch. Not until they were tortured or beaten did they then submit to reading or writing propaganda statements. The book covers the conditions they lived in. The torture sessions they endured. You feel the isolation these men had to deal with sitting along for days on end. You also feel the happiness they felt when they could just touch or see another American. The one thing I really enjoyed about this book was it gave us some insight as to how families back home were feeling and handling the day-to-day grief of not knowing if their husband/father was dead or alive. One family of these brave men had to wait close to five years before they knew that their husband/father was alive. Mr. Townley also covers the POW/MIA organization that the wifes of POW's started. It started out as a regional organization then branched to a national level. These women who were first told to "be silent" by their country's administration, found a voice and became a leader in getting their POW husbands better treatment from their captors after it was revealed in coded messages back home of their torture and solitary confinement.
For those that lived through the 60's and Vietnam, it might bring back good/bad memories. The book provides historical information regarding how the administration of LBJ and Nixon handled the war. Overall I thought Mr. Townley did a good job weaving together the different stories of each of these men as you follow them through hell, and then back home.
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on February 27, 2014
This is a precise, well researched explication of the eleven POWs who were tortured and neglected for years in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." The Viet Nam War was not a popular war. The families of the prisoners were forced to go to extraordinary lengths to keep the story of their loved ones alive and to effect real government support. In alternating chapters, the stories of these equally courageous families is discussed.

I cannot say I enjoyed this book. It is brutal and difficult to read. Townley does not pull any punches in describing the torture techniques used on these men, and it is unpleasant in the extreme to experience even vicariously. Yet I give the book five stars for the lucid and clear witnessing of the truth at hand. Townley also does not stoop to vicarious embroidery of details. He does not use pathos to pad the already almost unbearable truth. I believe in bearing witness, and in this case, the author has done so in a literate and well written work.
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on March 29, 2014
"Defiant" is by no stretch of the imagination an easy read. It is agonizingly heartbreaking on every page. Yet it is an important book, especially for folks like my husband and me who lives were dictated for nearly three decades by the Vietnam War - a war which interestingly is called "The American War" in Vietnam!

This is the story of the POWs and the women who fought for them at home. The research is impeccable; the writing honest without theatrics. It is a story so unbelievable, so compelling, that in every sense it is as gripping as "Unbroken."

This is a truth we need to know. A truth we need to appreciate. Would any of us have had the bravery .... the patriotism.... to endure this unendurable existence? And to do so with our heads held high? These men did. You need to hear their story as told by them through the pen of Alvin Townley. Peggy Keener, author of "Potato In A Rice Bowl"
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on February 14, 2015
This is an excellent book!!
I am so honored to write this review! These men and many more like them who aren't included in this book are true American Heroes!
These guys kept to a code that kept them strong and united against the enemy who desperately tried to break them down and destroy them. They lived in horrible conditions, being tortured and mistreated. They hung tough and determined to withstand whatever came against them. I am so proud of these men!
There was so much pain and anguish and depravity they dealt with year after year after year. They found their strength in God and one another. They devised many ways to keep ahead of the evil North Vietnamese and paid dearly for most of their defiance! But onward they went, trying to stay alive and keep their minds intact, hoping to get home to their families alive and in one piece!! Hoping to encourage one another! So many horrible challenges they faced! Unimaginable suffering!! Unbearable suffering!
By the grace of God they came through and one glorious day, most all of them arrived home on American soil. Tragic that some didn't make it!
I am in awe of these men and I wish I could shake hands and hug each one!
There is much more to the story. But I won't say more as I don't want to give anything more away.
I was young when the war began so I was unaware of much of it. A lot of this time period in history I was clueless of.

The author does a wonderful job writing this book. He captures each situation and personality. He includes historical fact and the controversy of the war. He did a terrific job of having the days flow into years and capturing each horrible moment for these men and each tiny spot of happiness that brought lasting joy in their sorrow. He brings the beginning to the end beautifully. I'm impressed that he did so well capturing the years of the Viet Nam War.

We need to more fully appreciate our men and women who serve in the military for our great United States of America!
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on May 9, 2017
This is a great but sad story of what these American heroes went through. Anyone who takes what they have for granted should read this book. It is a tribute to our American Military. It made me wonder if I could have survived their fate.
Highly recommended.
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