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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 Alvin Townley (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

" 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)

What members say

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  • Rick
  • Murrieta, CA, United States
  • 02-22-14

Wow! All I can say is Wow!


I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in US history, Military History, or anyone looking to learn about the Vietnam War, the Hanoi Hilton, and the Americans who would call it home for 8+ years. What a read!

From the start, this book had my attention. I couldn’t put it down! This is the comprehensive history of POW servicemen during the Vietnam War and how they endured thru torture and mistreatment, eventually returning home as (mentally) strong and courageous as they were when they were taken prisoner. Each one of these men and their wives who were stalwart fixtures on the home front should be honored as heroes and patriots, and should be saluted by each American. They’ve earned it!

When captured, provide only your name, rank, and service number. That’s what these men did only to be tortured and beaten beyond human endurance. And even after the many beatings and deprivation, each one of them was able to endure solitary confinement (for some, as many as 8 years) without giving in to their Vietnam captors, defiant to the end. And in that time they were able deceive the camp authorities by creating a form of communication “Tap Code”, which allowed them to keep up with one another while in confinement.

After I completed the book I went online and was able to view a couple of YouTube videos from some of the veterans who survived as POW’s in Vietnam and the dialog was just as fascinating. To actually see the “Tap Code” being performed, and then to comprehend that another could easily decipher what was being said will floor you! This innovation is just another way of defining the resilience of American servicemen in captivity during the Vietnam War.

The orator did a good job with voice inflection and accents and was able to keep me listening. This is an excellent book, cover to cover and will give a mere glimpse of what these men went thru while the government took their time in gaining their release. Do yourself a favor and add this to your library. You will not be disappointed!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 08-05-14

Unforgetable history, biography, inspirational

What did you love best about Defiant?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Defiant?

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.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

Any additional comments?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Story Every American Needs to Know

What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

Excellent narration. Narrator's voice was pleasing & easy to hear. Inserted some character inflections from time-to-time but at no point did the narrator try to 'compete' with the story itself. I would be happy to listen to another novel by this narrator.

Any additional comments?

For all the attention that has been showered upon WWII POW's (and rightly so), few Americans are as familiar with the narratives of Vietnam POW's. This book brings to life their stories in compelling and heart-wrenching fashion. It is a hard listen but an exceptional one. Equally as compelling are the stories of the POW's wives, who launched the POW / MIA movement in response to their husbands' captures and poor treatment. The author does a great job of interweaving these stories in a telling and timely manner. Extremely well-researched and extremely well-written account.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A wife of a pow that never came home

This book was very descriptive. As I listened to the book I could not imagine the
The suffering my love had to indured. The wives of these prisoners were so together
Like these wives I have been told by the Army, do not talk to the news papers, no
Public interviews,etc. When one of my husband's who was working for a Alabama
congressman in 1966, was helping me to find out any information, due to the fact that the Army would no. This congressional, had an uncle who was a Senator of Alabama hand also been made available to me. Both of these gallant southern gentlemen were so
comforting. When the Army learned of this, I was summoned to the office of the then
Army Base, then knows as Ft. MacArthur, in San Pedro, California, at this time it no longer
Exists. I was told that if I did not stop talking to these persons, I would loose my facial
support and they would make sure of that. I had just turned 24, 5 months pregnant
With our second daughter, I did not know better and could not really on the Army because
they sure would help. In those days of 1966, the Government wanted this to go away
and it has no changed. They just tell you what you want to hear.

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Wonderful story of survival & faith

Unbelievable story of survival and how faith helped the captives through incredible hardship. And the need for human contact i

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A moving piece on the triumphant human spirit!

This book was recommended by Tai Lopez as a testament of perseverance in impossible times. I like the focus on military minded officers who only has their minds to overcome their ordeal. I also liked their eventual strengthening of faith in god to carry them through. But no scene in the book made my hairs stand up as a tear formed in my eyes when the american pows sang the " Star Spangled banner" in the hanoi prison courtyards. God bless america and its brave soldiers!!

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Story of heroes.

Great book about American POW's in Vietnam. Highly recommend. Amazing men that underwent unimaginable torture.

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Keeping America's promise to never forget.

Well written, descriptive, and inspiring. This book documents the struggles of the men in captivity as well as the struggles of the families at home. It proves the limitless potential of the human spirit and the human heart.

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Exceptional

Incredible story of endurance. Well written and read. God bless those who sacrificed so much for the rest of us.