An imprisoned American naval officer remains steadfast throughout his captivity in North Vietnam.
Shot down during a routine bombing run in 1965, naval aviator and white Alabama native Cmdr. Jeremiah “Jerry” Denton finds himself fighting on a completely unexpected front. Despite the persistence of his North Vietnamese captors, Denton clings to the American military’s Code of Conduct for captured service members. He and other senior officers hold strong against an onslaught of physical and psychological torture, organizing a growing number of POWs to maintain a sense of unity and morale. This incredible tale of endurance, which Townley explores at greater length in his adult title Defiant (2014), stands alone for avid readers of war stories. More critical readers, though, may look elsewhere for a more complex view of the conflict and its survivors. The author’s habit of noting race only in relation to the very few nonwhite prisoners mentioned, along with a tendency to attribute inconsistently stilted English dialogue to the Vietnamese interrogators, will trouble some. One randomly placed text feature on the POW-MIA movement by families at home and a few odd explanatory references distract from the narrative, which teeters at points from textbook to hagiography. Still, the inclusion of photos and maps will help keep genre fans reading.
Appealing to war-story aficionados, this fulsome telling feels thin. (maps, bibliography, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)