Reflections on Captivity

A Tapestry of Stories by a Vietnam War POW

  • Subject: Fall 2022 Catalog
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    12 maps, 26 b/w images
  • Published:
    November 15, 2022
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    8 × 5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    11 oz
Hardcover $21.95
Member Price $17.56 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


On October 17, 1965, Navy LTJG Porter Halyburton was shot down over North Vietnam on his 76th mission and listed as killed in action. One-and-a-half years later he was found to be alive and a prisoner of war. Halyburton was held captive for more than seven years.  Reflections on Captivity, is a collection of fifty short stories about this young naval officer’s experiences as a POW in North Vietnam.  This book recounts difficult times but focuses more on the positive aspects  —the humor, creativity, friendships, courage, and leadership of an amazing group of Americans and how they helped each other survive and even thrive. These vignettes demonstrate how the human mind, body, and spirit can adapt and find meaning in life in the most challenging circumstances. There are powerful lessons learned from this complex experience that continue to guide the author’s life to this day.  

Despite hardship, suffering, and long separation, Halyburton strongly believes one’s quality of life is determined more by choices made  than by circumstances, and the most liberating choice we can make is to forgive. Reflections on Captivity furthers the reader’s  understanding about the nature of captivity, race relations, human relations, aspects of the air war against North Vietnam,  and highlights the importance of leadership, ethics, and devotion to duty in difficult times.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

Reflections on Captivity is Porter Halyburton’s truly inspirational account of his and his fellow prisoners’ triumph over adversity in the infamous Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' and other prisons of North Vietnam. The F-4 Phantom crewman relates how the Americans employed considerable courage, determination, creativity, and humor to survive and indeed counter the brutal treatment of their captors.” —Edward J. Marolda, author of Admirals Under Fire: The U.S. Navy and the Vietnam War
“In lyrical poetry and vivid prose, Porter Halyburton has shared his remarkable experience as a prisoner of war. It is a story of friendship, faith, and forgiveness – and a meditation on the human spirit, written by an American hero whose own life has been a model of courage, patriotism, and grace.” —James S. Hirsch, author of Two Souls Indivisible: The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam
“Originally classified as killed in action over North Vietnam, Porter Halyburton survived to endure almost eight years of brutal treatment in captivity. This is the inspiring story of triumph over unimaginably brutal conditions of captivity. Porter and his wife Marty not only survived, but ultimately prevailed. This book belongs in every American’s library!” —Roger Shields, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Prisoner of War and Missing In Action Affairs; chairman, Department of Defense Prisoner of war and Missing in Action Task Group ( 1971-1976 )
“It is without doubt one of the most powerful, thoughtful, and--for me-- emotional, books I have ever read. A jewel . . . . It seems to me the most significant contribution anybody can make to a coherent future civilization is setting standards for constructive and compassionate behavior. Porter Halyburton and his wife Marty have surely done that in every respect.” — Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. LTG, US Army, Retired
Reflections on Captivity by Porter Halyburton is an extraordinary work that combines brutal honesty, strong resilience, and above all humanity. The moment when newly freed POW Halyburton literally turns and forgives his captors—knowing that holding onto all the natural hate would pollute the rest of his life—is remarkable and utterly genuine. A brilliant book!” — Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret), 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and author of The Leaders Bookshelf and The Sailors Bookshelf
“The book is well worth reading not only as military history, but as a philosophy on how to live.”—Journal of America’s Past
"The bottom line on his seven-plus years as a POW was that it shaped and guided his life in a very positive way—he seemingly had few “down days” and weathered the storm that brought down and humbled so many others. Poignantly, his final words as he left prison will echo in your mind—Halyburton turned around to the POW camp and said out loud: “I forgive you…I forgive you.” He walked away with a clear conscience and a knowledge that his entire life was still ahead of him. Fifty years later, in this highly recommended book, he openly shares how his years as a POW positively affected his life." — Hampton Roads Naval Museum
"No one who has not been a POW can truly imagine the fear, pain, misery, and despair suffered by POWs held by the North Vietnamese. Halyburton's graphic, honest, and inspirational memoir comes closest to visualizing what it might have been like. More importantly, he vividly explains his experience: 'I had survived for a longer time than I thought I could and had endured much more than I thought possible.'" —Military Officer
"Porter Halyburton's extraordinary memoir of his POW experience is a testament to the power of choice and human liberty." —Providence Magazine

More Info


CBS Saturday Morning: Vietnam POW writes book about his seven years in captivity

Porter Halyburton was held as a POW in prisons for more than seven years. At the age of 83, Halyburton has written "Reflections on Captivity," a powerful book by a man who was supposed to be dead. Jeff Glor reports.

Lessons of Heroism: The Vietnam War POW Experience Panel Discussion

Panel discussion about the Vietnam War POW experience. Hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute at the Jack C. Taylor Conference Center in Annapolis, MD.