Bouncing Back: How a Heroic Band of POWs Survived Vietnam

Geoffrey Norman, Author
Geoffrey Norman, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-395-45186-1
Reviewed on: 08/01/1990
Release date: 08/01/1990
Like most U.S. pilots captured in North Vietnam, Navy lieutenant commander Al Stafford was unprepared for the physical and psychological torture that followed. His shame over failing to hold out against it was eased somewhat when he learned that other downed pilots had also been unable to live up to the Code of Conduct. This painful story turns upbeat and inspiring as Norman, a former Esquire editor, describes how these broken men, still in captivity, banded together in a program aimed at fighting off demoralization and despair. ``Bounce Back'' included a kind of university of the imagination with avidly attended courses in everything from auto repair to wine appreciation. At the annual Christmas parties thoughtfully chosen imaginary presents were exchanged: a coveted power tool, a Stan Getz album. Repatriated after nearly seven years of captivity, Stafford suffered panic attacks and depression, but bounced back once again, so successfully that he was given command of the Navy's survival school at Pensacola, Fla. (Aug.)
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