ALVIN TOWNLEY is the author of Legacy of Honor, Spirit of Adventure, and Fly Navy. He lives in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
The story of the indomitable American POWs who endured “Alcatraz,” the Hanoi prison camp where North Vietnam locked 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 return.
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.
"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
"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
“In Defiant, 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, bestselling author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
“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 bestselling author of How Do You Kill 11 Million People?, The Noticer, and The Traveler’s Gift
“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
"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.
“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
“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
“With Defiant, Alvin Townley has done readers a huge favor. By describing the POWs' scenes of torture and deprivation in such detail--to the point we can almost feel our own bones crack under pressure--he reminds us that we should never take our civil liberties for granted. This book is a testament to the human spirit and how, in the worst of conditions with the best of men, it can be bent but never broken.” —David Abrams, author of Fobbit
"Alvin Townley's Defiant is a compelling recounting of the horror, hope, hell, and humanity that was daily life for the American prisoners of war who struggled through existence at Hanoi's most brutal prison camp. Expertly researched and compellingly written, Townley's account of the reality of life both in Hanoi's prisons and for the families of the prisoners at home is inspiring reading and should be part of any Vietnam War library." —Andrew Wiest, author of The Boys of ‘67
"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
“Where do we get such men like the Alcatraz Eleven? 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.” —Capt. James A. L