The story of America's longest-held prisoner-of-war during the Vietnam War. Jim Thompson's story, and that of his family who also paid dearly for his sacrifice, is told through scores of interviews with Thompson and his family, comments from friends, fellow soldiers, excerpts from service records, and intelligence briefings.
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(244mm x 162mm x 40mm)
WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
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US Kirkus Review »
An excruciating oral history of the life of the longest-held American prison of the Vietnam War, from "Military Update "columnist Philpott. Thompson was held prisoner in Vietnam from 1964 until 1973. Although his experiences during those nine years make horrifying reading, it must be said that they do not add up to a terribly interesting biography-for, as the author makes abundantly clear, Thompson was not a very appealing (or even decent) character. He was a brute who regularly beat his wife and was rarely sober before he was shipped to Vietnam with his Special Forces unit. His life is pieced together in a mosaic of interviews, given by some 80 people, that describes both the terrible ordeal Thompson suffered as a POW and the unpleasant life led by his family back home. Shortly after the plane he was flying went down and he was reported missing, his wife moved in with another man. Thompson was psychologically and physically tortured for years, starved and beaten: "I was put into a horizontal cage maybe two feet wide, two feet high, and five feet long. There I was kept for four months, chained hand and feet." Ultimately, he was forced to read one of the infamous propaganda statements that were broadcast by North Vietnam, in which he declared the impropriety of American involvement in Vietnam-and his family became military outcasts as a result. Although he managed to survive his imprisonment, Thompson returned home to a family shattered by his experience, one that would never reunite-indeed, one that has simply disintegrated. The entire story is grim, allegorically opaque, and too long by half. Fate and politics dealt Thompson a bad hand, and he ought to have been left in peace-biographically as well. (16 pp. photos, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Tom Philpot
Tom Philpott is a syndicated columnist and freelancer writer. His weekly column, "Military Update," appears in more than forty daily newspapers in the United States and overseas. He lives in Centreville, Virginia.