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Showing 1-10 of 156 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 208 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 December 20, 2016
Few books I have ever read moved me as this one did. Although I have known and served under many former Vietnam POWs, I had never read a full account as well researched, thoughtful and poignant as Townleys book. I also appreciated that the author put the events in the larger context of the heartache that was Vietnam. We must never forget these men and how they served their country.
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on January 3, 2017
As a teenager my mom wore a POW bracelet for one of the men this story is about. She recently had the opportunity to hear him speak at West Minister College in Pennsylvania, which is how she found out about this book. She is almost done with it and absolutely loves it.
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on March 17, 2014
Their story was told so well. You really get the real suffering these brave men went through. Also am so impressed with their wives who worked so hard to get them back home by boyh working with the government and the media and then making it become real by doing the POW and MIA bracelets. GREAT read...couldn't put it down.
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on May 30, 2015
I have read a lot of the books written about the POWs in Vietnam and this by far was the most comprehensive.

I. too, was one of those who wore a POW bracelet. My guy was fortunate enough to come home. I now can imagine the hell he went thru. His wife and I were in contact during the time he was imprisoned. She was , also, one of the very active wives.

This book tells the story from both sides as I have never heard it before. Lots of new material was included that I had never read before.
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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 April 15, 2014
I challenge anyone who reads this book to come away still maintaining that waterboarding is torture or, as the New York Times asserted in over 70 days of front page diatribes, that forcing Muslim men to parade naked in front of a female guard at Abu Ghraib was torture.

What these POWs had to endure in Hanoi was probably the most severe torture I've ever read about. I found myself wincing while trying to picture what these men really went through. I tried to imagine the pain but I could never truly comprehend the torture applied to these guys. It makes one ask what kind of person could inflict this much pain and suffering on another human being.

The book was very well written and it was well worth the time to read it.
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on May 12, 2015
Amazing book, so very well written, heartbreaking. As a daughter and sister of 2 men that served in Vietnam, and never wanted to speak of it, I felt compelled to read this book even all these years later years. My father and brother are gone now but this book helped me understand them just a little bit more.
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