Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey” as Want to Read:
Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Surviving Hell: A POW's Journey

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  144 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
On April 19, 1967, Air Force Colonel Leo Thorsness was on a mission over North Vietnam when his wingman was shot down by an enemy MiG, which then lined up for a gunnery pass on the two American pilots who had bailed out. Although his F 105 was not designed for aerial combat, Thorsness engaged the MiG and destroyed it. Spotting four more MiGs, he fought his way through a ba ...more
ebook, 160 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Encounter Books (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Surviving Hell, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Surviving Hell

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 304)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kash
Jul 27, 2011 Kash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished this exciting brief book in almost one sitting. I'm completely blown away by the character of POWs like Lt. Col Thorsness, Col Bud Day and even Sen. McCain. I mean leave the patriotic feelings and military duty out of this, the resilience and endurance of these people is really interesting and amazing. It's a life story, a guide to be stronger & a wonderful insight into the lives of these heroes. This book must be read by every young man and woman in America (or even Canada or other ...more
Rob
Jun 26, 2016 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
On April 19, 1967, Leo Thorsness was on a mission over North Vietnam when his wingman was shot down by an enemy MIG. Although his F-105 was not designed for aerial combat, Thorsness immediately engaged the enemy aircraft and destroyed it. When Thorsness spotted four more MIGs, he fought his way through a barrage of North Vietnamese SAMs to engage them too, shooting down one more and driving the others off. For his actions, Thorsness was awarded the Medal of Honor, but he didn’t learn about it un ...more
Relstuart
May 30, 2012 Relstuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this over memorial day weekend. It's actually a quick read. The author won the medal of honor for an air action prior to being shot down and captured. He ejected @ 690 miles an hour. Messed up his knees and zippered pockets off his flight suit were blown off.

He discussed being tortured and what it was like being locked up. He takes a surprisingly positive tone that makes it easier to read than some other stories I've read.

He relates some pretty powerful stories of brave men in prison. W
...more
Jason
Sep 11, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible story of an Medal of Honor Recipient who spent six year's in the hell of Ho Chi Mihn's Hanoi Hilton in North Vietnam. It's poignant and funny...I cried as I laughed. Having met Colonel Thorsness this summer, I can tell you this book is exactly him. He is the kindness man who will tell you that since returning home to his wife and daughter, he has never had a bad day. Surviving Hell has reminded me what a debt we owe to those who are willing to defend the freedom we take for granted ev ...more
Don
Jun 22, 2014 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional read with chilling details of his captivity. I have heard Mr. Thorsness speak in-person and am amazed by the character that defines that men and those who were held captive in the Hanoi Hilton. I highly recommend this book.
Derek Dillard
Mar 22, 2016 Derek Dillard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the opportunity to listen to him tell his story which is where I bought the book. After listening to him and two other POWs tell their story and then I read the book, it gave me a whole new perspective of what they actually went through. It takes a special individual and the interesting thing about them is they are not bitter about it at all. After living through these experiences they came back and tackled life even harder because they almost didn't get the opportunity to live a normal li ...more
Jodi
Jun 22, 2016 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thorsness tells his story of his time in a POW camp. The book describes the torture enough that you can get a picture, but not in vivid detail that makes the book hard to read. Thorsness explains daily life in the camp enough that it is easy to picture the POW camps in Vietnam. The book is a quick read that I couldn't put down until I was done.
Benjamin Fowler
Jun 08, 2014 Benjamin Fowler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read about a situation I knew little about. The author is succint, but writes well. It is not just a fact by fact tour of his imprisonment. A great memoir for those interested in Vietnam POW stories.
Marc Colasanto
Nov 11, 2014 Marc Colasanto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fitting that I read this book on Veteran's Day. What a horrific ordeal our boys endured at the Hanoi Hilton. Toughest SOBs around.
Sid
Oct 16, 2015 Sid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-the-shelf
Gripping story written by one of the twentieth century's biggest heroes.
Robert
Aug 25, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like how he layed out his whole experience over 6 years in less than 127 pages. He is frank and to the point about what happened but yet puts no blame here nor there. It is a this is what happened story!! Why did I buy it? I had the honor of meeting Col Thorsness at a POW/MIA ceremony in Miles City Montana where he was the speaker. He is a man of honor with out a doubt but yet is still humble. Knowing what I do of him from that meeting, I knew the book was going to be a top notch product and i ...more
Linda Johnson
Mar 30, 2009 Linda Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning account of life as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton" by one who had grown up in the Walnut Grove area of MN. Leo Thorsness survived 6 years in the worst conditions imaginable where very few positive things ever happened and torture and starvation were the norm. This story speaks to the determination of men trying not only to survive but to maintain their humanity in very inhumane circumstances. Leo is a very humble Viet Nam hero and survivor.
Frode
Dec 27, 2011 Frode rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Some moments of laugh out loud humor and some teary-eyed spots, this book evokes feelings of pride, disgust, patriotism, and a variety of other emotions. It reads quickly and easily. Leo does not engage in self-pity or self-aggrandizement. He and the other POW's, most of them anyway, were true heroes. This book compares well with Jeremiah Denton's, When Hell was in Session.
Sean Hayden
Dec 07, 2012 Sean Hayden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was literally the first complete book I have finished. I enjoyed it a lot. It's about a POW survivor (not a spoiler as the author is the survivor) who tells his 6 year long story and his survival in the Hanoi Hilton during Vietnam. I really enjoyed this book as it really clung to me. The gist of the book was his explanation of what his day to day basis was like.
Andy Anderson
Dec 31, 2013 Andy Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Easy read, heartbreaking to think how long he was held but he survived and was better for it. Good descriptive on prison in Vietnam and flying tactics of he era.
Steve
Jan 01, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
Recently toured the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" POW prison in Hanoi where the official exhibit touts the "humane" treatment that POW's received. Wanted to read a more realistic account so I read this brief book after my visit. Very sobering. Worth reading for anyone with an interest in the war.
Ixris
Aug 16, 2013 Ixris rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly bright and uplifting, the book shines light on the evils that happened in Hanoi, but reminds me more of e.e. cummings' The Enormous Room than a wartime memoir.

Bright and uplifting, while still maintaining the evils of Hanoi.
Christina Winch
Jan 27, 2013 Christina Winch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is written by a man who was a POW with John McCain in Vietnam. He now lives in Huntsville. Inspiring to read about what these men went thru, fighting to uphold America's values. Sad to hear what mankind inflicts on one another.
Eric
Jun 05, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book. It is about a medal of honors time in Hanoi Hilton and what he and other prisoners did to survive. I found it a very easy to read and was able to finish it in a few hours.
Susan Kula
Jan 06, 2012 Susan Kula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. The book gives you the impression that the author is having a one on one conversation with the reader. Gives a very honest of what the life of a POW was like. Story stays with you.
Nick
May 13, 2009 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book, though I wish the author would have gone more in-depth about his time there. I did like, however, how he focused on how he survived the endless hours of boredom.
Ryan Jones
Jan 29, 2011 Ryan Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to think this one over a little. I will say that it made me think of Conrad's Heart of Darkness at times. Claustrophobic, moving, gut-wrenching, and real.
Mark
Jan 23, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Col. Thorsness is an incredible man. His book is a short read. I wish he would have gone into more details, but I respect his humility. God Bless him and all of our POW/MIA.
Dj Fullen
Sep 01, 2013 Dj Fullen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was amazing! It didn't describe the gruesome details of his torture but didn't Pollyanna it all up either. Great book by a great story teller.
Jonathan Reed
Feb 18, 2014 Jonathan Reed rated it it was amazing
Great book! Easy read, only took me a total of about 5 hours to read it cover to cover. Gives you a first hand look at the Hell our POW's went through during Vietnam.
William
Jan 22, 2013 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strong group of men it took to survive the prisons of north Vietnam.
Sam Winter
Dec 10, 2012 Sam Winter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet POWs story
Cris
Cris marked it as to-read
Aug 20, 2016
Patrick Gaebelein
Patrick Gaebelein is currently reading it
Jul 29, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Thud Ridge: F-105 Thunderchief missions over Vietnam
  • When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot over North Vietnam
  • Da Nang Diary: A Forward Air Controller's Gunsight View of Flying with SOG
  • Fighting the Flying Circus: The Greatest True Air Adventure to Come out of World War I
  • Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds
  • Sagittarius Rising
  • To Kingdom Come: An Epic Saga of Survival in the Air War Over Germany
  • Two Souls Indivisible: The Friendship That Saved Two POWs in Vietnam
  • A Lonely Kind of War: Forward Air Controller, Vietnam
  • The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II
  • Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945
  • Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943 (Rabaul Trilogy, #2)
  • Samurai!
  • Red Baron
  • Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot
  • Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam
  • American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day
  • To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam

Share This Book



“During the really tough first couple of years in prison, I felt like the 23rd Psalm was dictated by the Lord specifically for POWs.” 0 likes
“I made a commitment that when I was again free, I would study subjects I knew nothing about.” 0 likes
More quotes…