Code of Conduct novel; POW survives Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton but comes back to shattered life
Code of Conduct novel; POW survives Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton but comes back to shattered life
Code of Conduct novel; POW survives Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton but comes back to shattered lifeCode of Conduct "Reviews"
Code of Conduct written by Karen Black is a fictional tale but uses the true life experiences of her husband Cole Black an ex-POW of 7 years, who was held in captivity at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam
A couple of weeks ago I received a "proof" manuscript of this fictional story about the career of a Naval aviator, who became a POW in the DRV, and the effect of his experiences on his family during imprisonment and after his return. Once started, I found that when not reading this informative, well written tale, I continued to think about it and completed reading it in four late night sessions. The author set up the story by first covering the how Matt, an F-8 Crusader jock, is shot down "up North" and is captured. Then the story becomes a series of episodes of POW life and prison scenes that portray as realistically as possible actual experiences of a number of SEA POWs, as if they are happening to the tale's principal character. Those who were POWs or of us who have listened to them will recognize many of the tremendous challenges they faced throughout this story and examples of their indomitable courage, humor and inventiveness to overcome their lot as prisoners of the North Vietnamese.

Interspersed with these prisoner episodes is the story of Matt's marriage, family life and ultimately a difficult divorce upon his return from captivity. Intimate scenes are well done and provocative. I also believe the author does an excellent job of covering the many challenges of a dedicated fighter pilot seeking to successfully return to his military career given the circumstances. Indeed, the author's treatment of the effect of prolonged imprisonment and divorce on the children and friends involved rings uncomfortably true-to-life and commanded this reader's compassion for many, but definitely not all, of the characters.

I whole heartedly recommend "Code of Conduct" for anyone interested in learning, figuratively, about the SEA POW experience, the many elements of pursuing a military career, and some of the joys and sorrows of divorce. I enjoyed the way this story of combat's consequences and, yes, even its treatment of romantic intrigue and sex. The author, the wife of a Naval aviator and former SEA POW, is publishing the book on her own - it may be ordered by going to Amazon, or Code of Conduct.
Cheers and Check Six!

Al Bache
Review By:
Al Bache, Colonel, USAF Ret., Executive Director of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association and the Air Warrior Courage Foundation

Dear Cole & Karen: I read your book yesterday and today - you did a masterful job writing it, Karen. I'm going to encourage both my sons to read it. It really tells the story of what Cole and the other POWs went through.

Harold W. (a former squadron mate)

A review by Logan Jenkins Sign-on San link)

I just finished reading "CODE" yesterday. Did I like it? I can only say: Please keep me on your mailing list for your next book. I wouldn't want to miss it. I will be mailing this one to my daughter.

Lee Eggleston

I just want you to know how much I loved your book! I was completely taken into the world of Matt, Bobbie and Sandy.

Of course my heart ached with the Prisoner descriptions, how they suffered. I appreciated learning about the military code - the truthfulness and integrity. I think your book is aptly named. I got such a kick out of expressions "like an elephat at a party that nobody talked about" and "when you feast on the pleasures of life, you're likely to get indigestion."

I felt Matt's pain in coping with untruthfulness, the realism of weak relationships and Sandy's strength of honesty and forthrightness and commended Matt in choosing to follow his rectitude. I could also sympathize with Bobbie's weakness and feel badly for the unplanned situation that war put her in.

Karen, I think you did a marvelous job of describing the realism of the horrors of war, what separation and loneliness can do and how integrity survives.

Diane Crews

Karen - I am a real estate attorney in Escondido. A friend of mine bought your book for me, and I took it on a trip I recently went on, and could just hardly put it down. I just had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened to these people! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and of course, really admire your tenacity in starting the project, sticking with the project, finishing the project and writing and publishing somethng so wonderfully readable.

I think this would make a wonderful made-for-TV movie and I think fits right up the alley of what Lifetime Television for Women does. They make 4 hour-long movies, and I think Code of Conduct could be made to fit in a time slot like that. I am going to buy a second copy to send it to a friend in Spain. I think it's a winner!

Laura King - Assistant General Counsel, Escondido, CA

I just wanted you to know I couldn't put it down.

Dick Banister

"Just finished reading your book and enjoyed it very much. Ralph said it was very factual. It made me laugh. I loved Sandy. As soon as I thought how the story was going to go, you surprised me, and I cried. I could sit and read it again."

Bobbie Gaither (wife of ex-POW Ralph Gaither)

"I haven't been able to put it down. It is one of the best books that I've read in a long time. Thank you so much for writing such a great book. P.S. Where can my friends pick up the book?"

Garry Miller - Phoenix, Arizona

Karen: It was a painful story to tell and a difficult story to develop into a historical novel, but your determination and talent are appreciated. The novel was informative and enjoyable to read. But more important, it gave me a lot to think about. In difficult situations everyone knows the correct code of conduct, but unfortunately many find it difficult to live up to our own and society's expectations. Hope it gets the attention of Hollywood as it is the modern and more honest version of "The Best Years of Our Lives."

Bobbie and Marvin Klein - Lincolnwood, IL

The book has arrived and I am about half way through. It is well written and says it just right so far, think it should be a big seller. Thank you for signing our copy; hope to meet you both one of these days.

Rae Smith (wife of a Naval aviator) - West Point, MS

My dad passed along your book for me to read and I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed it. It really grabbed me - I love a good read!! Thanks.

Michael Boyle - Vista, CA

I had the bad fortune of being sick for the last five days, and the good fortune of having your book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cared about the characters, I liked the pace of it and learned a lot more about what being a prisoner was like....Horrible. It brought renewed respect for the risks that our soldiers take.

Elizabeth Georges - San Diego, CA

My husband received from a friend a copy of your book, "Code of Conduct," in the mail on Monday. He was on his way on a business trip that night and took the book with him. One day later, he is practically finished in what, for him, is apparently a "can't put it down" account and tribute. I look forward to reading your book when he's done. Oddly enough, I just finished John McCain's "Faith of My Fathers."

Jessica M. Samios - Ligonier, PA

12 Feb 03
(from Vietnam) Karen - Give up your Day Job! The book is fabulous. You have outdone yourself. Walked in the Hoa Lo today. Heartbreak is gone. New Guy Village, part of Vegas and knobby room all that is left.

Ed Hubbard (former POW and published author)

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I finished it in one day. Your books tells so much of what these heros went through, some sad situations that they came home to. Some of them made it; others didn't. Karen, the book was terrific! I hope that Hollywood takes a good look at this for a movie. The compassion you showed, I could just put myself in anyone of those shoes. My husband was in Vietnam in 1966-1967. And when he came home everyone felt as Bobbie did, glad to see them, but then again, you were scared they had changed. I give you a 5 star on your first book. Keep up the good work .... I will recommend it to everyone that will listen to me. My boss is a Staff Sgt. in the guards, and I said, "You are going to read this."

Linda Lemmerman - Mazeppa, MN

I am a French Canadian who was taken prisoner in Hue in 1968 and released on February 13, 1973. I read your book "Code of Conduct." It is a very good book.

Marc Cayer - Quebec City, Canada

Dear Karen: I want you to know how much I'm engrossed with your book. I've been reading it during breakfast and lunch. I can hardly put it down. You have me hooked. And it is very well written, I might add.

Jean Brown - Bonner Springs, KS

I received your book. I started reading it right away and couldn't put it down. I want another copy to send to a friend. We thought of Cole so often while he was over there; he was always in our prayers I am sure it took a lot for you to write this book.

Chere and Larry Johnson - Zumbro Falls, MN

What a great book! I couldn't leave it alone. Had my head in the book every free minute I could. When Cole was released I was in Florida with my 9 year old son vacationing with my parents. I remember reading a newspaper from down there and seeing Cole's name. So, although I've never met you, your story and remarkable courage and honor to our country really touched my heart. Praise and admiration to you both.

Carla Root and Mary Pruter - Wykoff, MN

I couldn't put it down. A friend in my office has already read it; he said he loved it and it is well written.

Kim Shoesmith @ Edward Jones, Escondido, CA

I'm sure I told you, but the book was terrific........write another one.

Bobby Hulse - San Jan Capistrano, CA

Any chance of a new book being published from you. I enjoyed your "Code of Conduct" so much. Let me know if you have another coming out soon.

Linda Siewert Lemmerman - Mazeppa, MN

May, 03
Karen: I found "Code of Conduct" to be a finely crafted necklace of chapters that demanded my continued attention. I couldn't put it down!! To leave the high adventure of P.O.W. camps and fall into mundane society, with its lack of direction, was a task that you will probably long remember. You did it artfully. Respectfully,

Art Guy - San Diego, CA

I am an American history teacher living in Singapore. During our lessons this year on the Vietnam War, I decided to see if I could locate your husband in an online search. When I was in high school, I wore a bracelet with his name on it for two years, waiting for the POWs to be released and the war to end. I remember being in front of the TV in my parents' home and watching the men walk down the steps from the airplane. I also remember being thrilled to hear his name called. In searching online it was heartening to see that there was more to his story that just military information. Thank you for writing this book, and please let your husband know that his story is being shared at the Singapore American School with 13 and 14 year olds from all over the world.

Penny Collins - Singapore

I met you today at the book show. I just read the first 100 pages of CODE OF CONDUCT. This should be a best seller!!!!! I don't read a whole lot, but I can't put your book down. My wife made me stop reading for dinner and I started thinking how much work in must have been to write a book like this with this many pages and make every page as interesting as you did !!!!! . . . Anyway, congrats on a Great - Great Book !!!!!!!

Dave Adams - San Diego, CA

Karen, you must have been a fly on the wall in the prison camp to have picked up on the emotions the way you did. It was terrific.

Duffy Hutton (Former POW) - San Diego, CA

Karen, We thought your book was great. Duffy cried several times - I'd look over at him and see him wiping away tears. I don't think he realized before just how tough it was on some of the guys who came home to broken marriages. think reading it helped him too. He opened up about some things that happened more than before. It was really compelling.

Eileen Hutton, wife of former POW - San Diego CA

Karen, I read your book awhile back, just now realized I had a chance to comment on it. It was great! The Prison part was as if I was sitting there listening to Cole repeat it all over to me again in Balboa Naval Hospital. Bravo Zulu to you.

Jim McLeod, (Former Debriefer) - Wewahitchka, FL

I finished it last night. IT IS SO GOOD! I laughed, I cried, mostly cried.
I fell in love with Tom, what a hunk! I was absolutely fascinated with the "tap code". What an amazing story. I can't believe what those guys had to endure. I cried my eyes out when it came to [blanked out to protect the story line.] When I read that, I held my son tight and gave him extra kisses. What a story. Now everyone in the office wants to read it! I would definitely recommend it. I wasn't sure a Vietnam story would hold my interest, seeing what the families went through is so heartbreaking. GREAT JOB!!

Stacie Corbaley - San Diego, CA

For some time now I have been meaning to write to Karen to congratulate her on the really good book which I read immediately. I was impressed that it was not the work of an amateur author but rather a very well related and organized story, much of which I recognized of course. Tried to locate you on the web to order some more (as did one of my patients, who is a retired Marine Colonel), and the only Karen Black there is some porn star. So, send me the order info by E-Mail and I will get some more copies. I will look forward to hearing from you. Best Regards --

George Frankhouser (or should I say Dr. Howser?) - Santa Maria, CA

Code of Conduct is impossible to put down once you start reading it. Not only are the characters believable and totally human, the story is full of information about the POW experience and its effect on all concerned. The icing on the cake is Mrs. Black's sensitive and enjoyable sex scenes. I loved it!

Mary Sternad - Coronado, CA

This is an excellent book. I have read it more than once, and would recommend it to others. (in fact I have made that recommendation). I personally know both the author and her husband Cole. It was difficult to read the parts about the prison and things that happened to the prisoners. Even though I tried not to do so, I kept imagining all those things happening to Cole. Upon reading this book I had a whole new respect for both Karen and Cole. Thank you Cole and all of the other NAM-POWs for serving your country as you did.

Recently Karen gave a presentation to the Northern San Diego County Legal Professionals Association about writing and publishing her book. I have heard much positive feedback from fellow members and friends. Several people purchased the book and I know that more purchases will be made because of that evening.

Cindy Greenleaf - Escondido, CA

Your book is very good, a great job. There are pages I need to read again. I was heartsick reading of the amount of our men held as prisoners and being treated so gruesome. When I mentioned the number of prisoners to people now they look at me in disbelief.

Mary Dackerman - Temecula, CA

I recently finished reading "Code of Conduct" and I have to say it has been a long time since I had such a hard time putting down a book!!! I was fascinated by the non-fiction aspects and enthralled with the fictional story! It made me realize how complicated the lives of the POWs were when they returned home. I read the book shortly after Veteran's Day, and I must say it gave me a lot to think about! Especially in today's (once again) uncertain world. I would recommend this book to my friends and family and have, in fact, ordered 6 more copies this very day to give as Christmas gifts. I loved this book and hope to see it on the "Silver Screen" some day!

Diane Walters-Keyport - Albertville, Minnesota
I was totally unprepared for this book. I think I was expecting a trashy romance novel with a cursory Vietnam Prisoner of War theme thrown in for flavor. What I got was a gut-wrenching page turner that truly captures the sacrifice and emotional turmoil of war. Code of Conduct follows the career of a Navy fighter pilot from the downing of his aircraft in 1966, through seven years of torture and solitary confinement in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp, to his return to America and his family. But, after seven years of clinging to the dream, his homecoming is not at all what he expects. Karen Black spins a tale of loss, emotional devestation, and - finally - healing.

Jeff Edwards, Author of 'Torpedo: A Surface Warfare Thriller'
A must read book Not the usual war-story book but one that goes far deeper. It is superbly divided between the prisoner of war, the woman whose husband was missing for seven years, and the family dynamics caused by the years of separation. Her story and her pain equals that of her husband. It is a book you will never want to put down and one you will never forget.

Vailia Dennis
As a retired Naval Intelligence Officer, I would swear this book was based on fact! It is written in the finest tradition of a Biography. I was lucky enough to debrief a Naval Fighter Pilot, who was shot down in Vietnam, his experience closely ressembles the one in Code of Conduct. It is one of the finest books written that I have ever read concerning the God Awful trials our Men went through who were captured by the Viet Cong. A Must Read.

James C. Mcleod, Florida Panhandle
I finished reading the book last night. The characters became real, their problems and their experiences were finely described. This added detail to the blanket statement that is commonly pronounced that service people have a hard time reintegrating with their families upon return from active duty.

Matt, Bobbie, Sandy, Hank, Debbie, Lee, John, Tom, Amy and more. You developed the characters so well. The POW experience is one you bravely took on. Now I can guess why John McCain's arms do not work like everyone else's. I can see the abbreviated movement when he is on TV. His walk is stiff too....

This book is a feather in your cap. When I met you I decided that you were a Renaissance woman (who says it is only "man"?) and this only verifies my belief.

I so admire your discipline in writing the book.
Susan K. Fox, CLPF, NCG
Karen, I received your book and finished it in less than a week (for me that is a major accomplishment). I absolutely love the book especially the format (POW side and POW's wife side and then the merge after release). Working at Miramar from 1977-1984 makes the story seem familiar. I'm thinking this would make a great mini series on TV.

Catherine Laue - Temecula, CA
Dear Karen,
I have just finished reading "Code of Conduct". I was a Marine 1959 thru 1963. Served in Okinawa, Laos, Philippines and Thailand. Pre-Vietnam? I was young and tough then. Your book revealed (for me) how impossible, under torture, the expectations were of our POW training and the "code". Equally, the families of POWs struggled to live-up to a difficult and for some impossible, code.

Thank you Karen.
Jon J. Nagelvoort

Hi Karen,
Read your book, Code of Conduct. It was a compelling read. The suffering POWs endured in Vietnam is powerfully depicted and certainly something I fear is being forgotten by many of us. The book is a powerful read about sacrifice, loss and life. My wife kept asking me while I was reading, "what happened"? I could not put it down. It should be made into a movie; no doubt it is a strong tale that should be shared with a wide audience. Much thanks.

Pat Dresch, Client

Dear Karen,
What a magnificent read! It has been extremely difficult to put the book down! I will treasure it as I will my P.O.W. Bracelet which now, since we "met" has an added special meaning to me.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to you.
Sincerely, Arlene - Jersey City, New Jersey

A well written book, a page turner, fantastic and a reminder of the horrors of the Vietnam war and what the POW's experienced as well as their families. Karen Black is ,no question about it, a top drawer writer. Anxious to read her second novel when it comes out. Buy this book, you will not be sorry you did!!

Nancy M. Makowski

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Code of Conduct novel; POW survives Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton but comes back to shattered life