cover image TWO SOULS INDIVISIBLE: The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam

TWO SOULS INDIVISIBLE: The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam

James S. Hirsch, . . Houghton Mifflin, $25 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-618-27348-5

Dozens of men held prisoner by the North Vietnamese were brutally tortured physically and emotionally for years on end. Among them were Fred Cherry, an air force F-104 fighter-bomber pilot and the highest-ranking black POW, and Porter Halyburton, a white navy F-4 Phantom jet navigator from North Carolina. Cherry, who was severely wounded when he was shot down near Hanoi in October 1965, was tortured as his captors tried, without success, to coerce him into signing antiwar statements urging black servicemen to give up the fight. Cherry would not have survived his ordeal without the care he received from Halyburton, whom the North Vietnamese placed in Cherry's cell in an effort to foster enmity between the two. Halyburton cleaned Cherry's wounds, bathed him when Cherry was too weak to move and did other yeoman, life-saving work for nearly eight months. This amazing story of courage, friendship and dedication to ideals was told briefly in Wallace Terry's excellent oral history, Bloods (1984). It is related here in depth and exceptionally well by Hirsch (Hurricane ), a former Wall Street Journal and New York Times reporter. Hirsch has crafted a well-researched, cleanly and clearly written account that chronicles Cherry and Halyburton's lives before and after the war, but concentrates on their day-to-day struggles in Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, from 1965 to 1973. This is a compelling story told compellingly well. Agent, Todd Shuster. Author tour. (May 10)