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A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of Vietnam
A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of Vietnam
(Walter Dean Myers, Alex Haley, Frederick Porter)

A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of VietnamA Place Called Heartbreak (October 1992)
A Place Called Heartbreak describes the ordeal of Major Fred V. Cherry, who was shot down in combat over Vietnam and spent seven-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.
Major Fred V. Cherry, a confident young Air Force pilot, is shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He does not know how long he will be held prisoner or how he will be treated, only that his courage, patriotism, and will power will be fully tested.
On 22 October 1965, Colonel Fred V. Cherry (then a Major) was flying a mission from Thailand to North Vietnam. His F-105 fighter jet was fired upon and shot down near the city of Hanoi, North Vietnam. Colonel Cherry ejected safely and was the 43rd American to be captured and taken as a Prisoner of War (POW). He spent 702 days in solitary confinement and was tortured continuously.
Walter Dean Myers is a published author, editor, and illustrator of several children's books. Some of his published credits include: A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of Vietnam (Stories of America), At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England and Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom.
Frederick Porter is a published author and illustrator of young adult and children's books. Some of his published credits include: A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of Vietnam (Stories of America Series), Jonathan Chapman The Appleseed Man (Leveled Books) and Jane Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees (Real Reading Series).
Alex Haley, as General Editor, wrote the following introduction:
Introduction By Alex Haley, General Editor
During the Gulf War in 1991, I found it odd that football players getting ready for a big playoff game described the upcoming contests as a "war." At the same time, I couldn't help but notice how some journalists reported the war as if it was a sporting event. I can even remember one journalist saying after the ground fighting brought the war near its close, "It's over. All that remains is to see how high we run up the score."
We need to be smarter than that. Warfare is not a game. It's a life-or-death struggle where "scores" are kept not in points or runs but in dead bodies, lost limbs, and damaged souls. A Place Called Heartbreak tells you about one man's experience among the routine horrors of war. It is not a sports report. It doesn't pretend war is pretty or fun or a game. It's a war story. ~ Alex Haley.
(The above Foreword by Alex Haley is presented under the Creative Commons License. © 1993 Dialogue Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
A Place Called Heartbreak: A Story of Vietnam • Reviews
"Engrossed is the only possible description for my boys when reading A Place Called Heartbreak. The chapters are short enough to keep a reluctant reader going and the black and white illustrations add to the story. Myers' historic notes at the end add value to a well disguised history lesson. My boys are ages 13 and 12." - Owensboro, Kentucky.
"A Place Called Heartbreak was a great novel. I really liked how Walter Dean Myers portrayed this book. He captured the pilots hard journey in Vietnam. Walter Dean Myers writes another highly commendable book." - Bolder, Colorado
"A Place Called Heartbreak is a fairly good book. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to know about the Vietnam War. My favorite part was when Fred Cherry was finally let out of prison. He was a U.S. air force pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down by a North Vietnamese soldier. While he was in prison, he taught the other prisoners "tap." Soldiers had to learn a tap code to communicate with other prisoners in different cells. That was pretty cool. This book was okay. Try it." - Clover, Virginia.
"A Place Called Heartbreak profiles Air Force Major Fred Cherry, an African American fighter pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam War and spent seven long years as a prisoner of war." - Cambium Learning.
"The courage, commitment, and vision of individuals both famous and ordinary are celebrated through stories that reveal the rich, multicultural tapestry of the American experience. The texts, most of which incorporate material from primary sources, such as letters and journals, are based on historical fact. A Matter of Conscience and A Place Called Heartbreak are the most compelling of the solid, but not outstanding, books. Competent black-and-white drawings illustrate the selections." - Horn Book Review.
"In a book that reads more like a novel than nonfiction, Myers tells the story of Colonel Fred V. Cherry, U.S.A.F. (Ret.), who was a prisoner of the North Vietnamese from Oct. 22, 1965 - Feb. 12, 1973. He relates how Cherry, an African American, overcame obstacles during his youth to attend college and fulfill his boyhood dream of becoming an Air Force fighter pilot. It was on a mission from Thailand to North Vietnam that Cherry was shot down, thus becoming the first black pilot to become a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. His experiences there, as well as some background information and his present feelings about the Vietnam War, are presented in well-organized hi/lo prose; this is accomplished without oversimplification or generalizations." - School Library Journal.

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