Title: Code of Conduct
Author: Karen Black
Genre: Fiction, Military
Reviewer: Bill McDonald
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0972444904
Matt Tillet, an F-8 Crusader pilot, is shot down over North Vietnam in 1966, just one week before his ship would be heading home after his second back-to-back six-month tour. Escaping from his spiraling out-of-control jet with only seconds to spare, and evading for all of three minutes, he becomes a Prisoner of War. Surviving torture, months of solitary confinement and the infamous Hanoi March, the dream of returning home to his wife and two children keeps him going. Repatriated in 1973, he returns to find his dream shattered.
Code of Conduct takes place in the middle of a war; however, it is not so much a blood and guts war novel as it is the emotional tale of a family torn apart by war, more than seven years of separation, and the long journey to reconstruct their lives.
While many POWs came home to broken marriages, the personal relationship portion of the book is purely fictional. The prison scenes are based on actual events that happened to the POWs in Vietnam. The story was inspired by many years of listening to the recollections of the author's husband and several of his Vietnam ex-POW buddies. Time does not seem to have faded their memories of what they went through (although they can now joke about it) and each reunion or get together provided a new tidbit.
The author's goal is to present the horrendous prisoner-of-war experience and the resulting shattered personal lives in the format of a novel.