June saw the first round of reviews arrive for Alvin Townley's upcoming book about eleven extraordinary Vietnam War POWs and their wives at home. A variety of former POWs, best-selling authors, and public officials all read an early advance manuscript; they were unanimous in their reaction: Defiant is a must-read. Selected reviews follow:
"Riveting. Powerful. Authentic. I had tears in my eyes reading Defiant. If I can still cry, I know others will too."
- Mike McGrath, POW, 1967-1973
"That most tragic war in American history, Vietnam, demanded more from many American servicemen than humans should have to endure. That some Americans are asked by fate to give so much while most others give so little is one of the insoluble conundrums of our age. Alvin Townley's story of the courage, valor and honor of eleven indomitable POWs and their wives is a new American classic that will be read as long as the breezes kiss Old Glory. As I read it I wept."
- Stephen Coonts, New York Times best-selling author of Flight of the Intruder
"Where do we get such men as Defiant's "Alcatraz Eleven" - men captured during a controversial war and imprisoned by a cruel enemy? This stirring tale by Alvin Townley of resilience and leadership under unimaginable conditions is a must read."
- Jim Lovell, Commander of Apollo 13
"Defiant is Unbroken meets Band of Brothers - and then some. In it, Alvin Townley's vivid prose reveals the epic story of the Alcatraz Eleven - Vietnam's own Dirty Dozen - and how their wives never stopped fighting for their safe return. The devotion and undefeatable will of these courageous American heroes shines on every page and reminds us exactly what our great nation is made of."
- Congressman Pete Sessions
"Defiant is a must read for those who seek to understand and honor the very best of America and its heroes. Alvin Townley's exhaustive research shows us how our prisoners of war in Vietnam served with inspired bravery and unrelenting courage. We can now know in detail how the most abused of them all survived years of brutality and solitary confinement."
- Melvin R. Laird, Secretary of Defense (1968-1972)
"Alvin Townley has captured the individual accounts of these eleven men and woven them into a captivating story of resilience, courage and love of country."
- Robert H. Shumaker, POW, 1965-1973, member of the Alcatraz Eleven
"Defiant is an astounding story that will capture your heart and mind proving once and for all that determination trumps circumstance."
- Andy Andrews, New York Times Best-Selling Author of How Do You Kill 11 Million People?, The Noticer, and The Traveler's Gift
"In this unexpected way, your book made it all worthwhile. You told it exactly like it was."
- George G. McKnight, POW, 1965-1973, member of the Alcatraz Eleven
"The best account of this type I've ever read."
- Jim Stockdale, Jr., son of Alcatraz Eleven senior ranking officer Jim Stockdale
"A unique American epic which must never be forgotten. Thanks to Alvin Townley's ability to convert its heartbreaking reality into vivid prose, its men and women are alive as human beings as well as symbols of their commitment to each other -- and their country."
—Thomas Fleming, author of The Officers' Wives
"InDefiant, Alvin Townley reveals a moving, inspiring, untold story of courage and sacrifice that stands as a vivid testimony to what the human spirit can overcome. This is an important and too often overlooked aspect of the Vietnam War's history. But for those interested in Vietnam's Band of Brothers, it is a must read."
- Jay Winik, best-selling author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
"Alvin Townley has done a magnificent job of weaving together the powerful and complex story of eleven men who survived the unbelievable cruelty of their North Vietnamese captors. Defiant honors the bravery and sacrifice of our prisoners of war and their families as no other reporting has done to date. These men, many of whom I knew, deserve no less."
- Richard G. Capen, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (1968-1971)
"Defiant will make you proud to be an American, and Alvin Townley's writing makes you feel as if you are there yourself. It would be a wonderful textbook for a course on how to be a POW, but it is also a book for anyone on how to face and overcome adversity!"
- Wesley D. Schierman, POW, 1965-1973
"Alvin Townley's work speaks volumes of America and our service men and women, and their spouses...;.their honor, steadfastness, perseverance, spirit, and love of country...;and clearly illuminates the differences in our militaries and governments. Reading "today" of their time in captivity, brings the same emotions America shed upon their release and return in 1973."
- General J.H. Binford Peay III, U.S. Army (Retired); Superintendent, Virginia Military Institute; former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command
"I carried this book from room to room and kept trying to put it down, but I couldn't stop reading. Alvin Townley shows the heart of what it means to be American in this tale of some of our greatest heroes. Defiant is superb."
- Gregory A. Freeman, author of The Gathering Wind: Hurricane Sandy, the Sailing Ship Bounty, and a Courageous Rescue at Sea
"The story of human courage, individual and family perseverance, survival based on a warrior's code of honor. Alvin Townley weaves the recollections of these remarkable men into a compelling narrative against the backdrop of war, freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation. An inspirational account of POWs who served with honor while in captivity and returned home with a commitment to serve their country."
- Larry Berman, author of Zumwalt: The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr.
"Defiant is all about voices - those that went unused for days by solitary prisoners of war, and those of silently suffering women back home who eventually felt no choice but to speak out. Alvin Townley soberly evokes the terror, sadness, frustration, pain and inspiration they all felt, and along the way, gives us a Vietnam War most of us have never heard about, involving legions of American women and imprisoned men fighting together, thousands of miles apart."
- Alan Huffman, author of Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer
"If you have ever wondered how real courage and ultimate perseverance should be defined, all you need to do is read these pages. If you have ever pondered whether Americans still have the grit and the 'guts' to show the world what it takes to defend freedom, reading about the 'Alcatraz Eleven' will bolster your confidence. What these men endured nearly defies description, but Alvin Townley has managed to pull it off brilliantly. The writing is hard-hitting and powerful, dynamic and breath-taking. So, too, is his retelling of the stoic courage of the loved ones stuck at home with uncertainty and doubt: uncertainty about their own abilities to bear up, then doubt in the fortitude and truthfulness of their own government. What the families did from afar, and how they ultimately put backbone into their own leaders and pushed accountability onto the captors of the POWs, is a story heretofore largely untold. It is a narrative as striking in its own right as the tales of the 'Alcatraz Eleven' themselves."
- Phil Keith, award-winning author of Blackhorse Riders and Fire Base Illingworth