Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee
Robert Wideman (2016)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)
“Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW,” the memoir of being held as a prisoner of war for six years, by Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee is an incredible read. Thank-you for your service, Mr. Wideman, and thank you to all who served during the Vietnam War. There are no words that can portray what readers will experience when reading this story. It will hit all your emotions, anger, sadness, regret and shock.
The writing is excellent, as the descriptions, scenarios and tone will make you feel you are right there with him. You will feel the animosity of the guards, the leeches, stench, shock, and sometimes feelings of defeat. It is hard to imagine the torture, lack of communication, conveniences, food, or sleep. Imagine all you have are your dreams and hopes to keep you going, or worrying every minute of every day if this will be your last one.
It is true, unless you have experienced this, you will never truly comprehend what it was like. So many soldiers during this war and those held prisoner cannot fully describe what happened.
Wideman, through a first-person narrative, describes the propaganda, daily routines of prison life and attitude of some of the senior officers. You will meet his guards, some who are hell bent on providing the worst existence possible, and others who try when they can to be kind and help.
As Wideman and his fellow prisoners return home to the United States, you will feel their emotions as they were taunted by those who didn’t think the United States should have been involved in the Vietnam War. You will hear of wives who couldn’t take being “alone” for that amount of time and found another life. Many ask of these soldiers, “What happened? Tell us all.” Impossible. There aren’t enough words to describe what happened or the hell they went through.
For many, it took a long time to “settle in” after returning home, and for many the war never ended in their mind. “Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW” by Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee is heartbreaking, yet a true story of love of your country and dedication to what you are upheld to do.