Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - A POW's Inspiring Story

Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - A POW's Inspiring Story

by Gerald Coffee

Paperback(Revised)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613395011
Publisher: Made For Success Publishing
Publication date: 11/20/2013
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 338
Sales rank: 766,820
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Gerald Coffee, considered one of the nation’s top speakers, addresses scores of audiences each year, including many prestigious business and leadership groups. Born in Modesto, California, he joined the Navy in 1957 after graduation from UCLA with a major in business administration. After returning from Vietnam, he received his master’s degree in political science and then attended the esteemed National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Captain Coffee has earned many military awards and decorations, including the Silver Star, as well as numerous civilian awards. Retired from the Navy since 1985, he now lives in Hawaii.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Jerry and I lived in the same cell for the last 31/2 years we were in prison. We developed a pretty good kinship because Jerry was raised in Modesto, California and I was raised in Salinas just over the hill from Modesto. He was the ‘Modesto Flash’ and I was the ‘Salinas Streak.’ We actually developed these code names because someday if we had had to revert to passing messages in code again, it would be from Flash to Streak. Fortunately things never got that bad again. Jerry was a joy to live with. I never met a more even tempered individual or bigger optimist than Jerry. He was also somewhat of a visionary with a Bohemian streak. A wonderful artist, he tried to teach me how to paint in prison, which I failed at miserably. He also wrote poetry in his head and recited it. (In fact, I am a product of the Jerry Coffee international toastmasters Hanoi Chapter.) Every once in a while Jerry would sit back against the wall and come back to the same theme about the future. He’d say, “Ev, you know someday we’re going to go home and people back home aren’t going to understand what we’ve been through. It’s going to be so hard to conceive. And there’s a message here, a message we need to tell.” I didn’t grasp the full meaning of what he was saying for a long while, but it finally came. Jerry has mastered the ability to articulate the essence of the experience and those values and principles that are our legacy: honor, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, and faith. Nobody tells this story better than Jerry Coffee. I can’t tell you how many times - all over the country - I run into people who say, “Do you know this fellow Jerry Coffee?”, because they’ve just been somewhere and heard him speak. And I say, sure I know him, and they go “Wow! Boy, he blew our socks off. He’s tremendous.”

~Everett Alvarez, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.),
longest held Vietnam POW 8-5-64 – 2-12-73,
Deputy Director, Peace Corps; Deputy Director,
Veterans Administration; founder, Alvarez and Associates

“My dear friend Jerry Coffee is a man I’ve become as close to as practically anyone I’ve ever known. It would be very difficult for me to describe all Jerry’s achievements from the Cuban Missile Crisis to his bravery and courage in the Vietnam conflict. I will just say that in prison after the treatment had improved rather dramatically I had the great fun and privilege of living in the same cell with him for a couple of years. I think I found his company a lot more agreeable than he found mine, given my always even-tempered, unemotional approach to things. And although Jerry is a lousy bridge player, I have never known a more kind and generous American. I am very proud that for so many years he has traveled the country giving inspirational talks to people from all walks of life and every strata of America - not only because he has a compelling story but because of his particular fashion of describing the attributes associated with duty, honor, and our country.”

~John McCain, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.);
Vietnam POW 10/26/67 - 3/14/73;
United States Senator, Arizona, 1986 – present

“I have always had this unusual fetish for movies about prisoners of war. In Stalag 17, I was fascinated by how the prisoners in Europe found ways to entertain themselves. After the Sontay raid in 1970 we were finally allowed to be assembled together. I had the privilege of getting to know Jerry Coffee in early 1972. Room 2 held a group of reprobates about 25 strong. By this time, we’d been there five, six, seven years and were pretty cynical about life. The torture had mostly stopped and we were just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the big bombing raids to happen so we could imagine going home someday in the next decade. Then Jerry, who was quite a bit more high-classed than the rest of us, was brought into our midst. There were a number of Marines in the room. John McCain was there, too. We were all groping for ways to entertain ourselves. So Jerry moved in and we discovered he had talents as an artist. After that, he spent hours teaching me and a couple of other rather dumb, uncreative people to draw things using rouge colored roof tile [like chalk] on a concrete floor. Jerry taught me how to draw eyeballs, my specialty. I haven’t pursued that career, but at least he brought some creativity into my life. Jerry Coffee is an incredible individual and eloquent speaker. I honestly believe I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He is a wonderful, wonderful man I am incredibly blessed to have as a friend.”

~Orson Swindle, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.);
Vietnam POW 11/11/66 – 3/4/73;
Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, 1997-2005

Customer Reviews

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Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times - A POW's Inspiring Story 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, page turner, all the reasons to keep this on my top five list. What a wonderful surprise this book was. As a young female I want to say that ANYONE can connect with the author and feel what he is going through throughout the book. I also received a lot of history that is NOT taught in school. A must read!
AnnS70 More than 1 year ago
If ever a memoir should have been written, this is the one. Captain Gerald Coffee's has written an epic, and inspiring story of survival.  There were many parts that had me in tears. Especially toward the end after he was rescued.  Thank you Captain for sharing your story. I can only imagine how hard it was to write it all out. I will be recommending this to everyone who needs some inspiration.
nhgirl1970 More than 1 year ago
As a reader and a teacher, I read a wide variety of books and keep an open mind. This book was excellent and very well-written.  I reviewed one of my tutoring student's essay on this book and it inspired me to want to read the book ever since. My stepson is a naval aviator so his story hit close to home. Mr Coffee is a man of great strength and survived conditions I can't even fathom. I wish this book had been in my classroom when I taught a Vietnam War unit as the story depicts what this man (and other veterans) endured during a  long imprisonment in the Vietnam War. Throughout the book is not only great lessons in regards to strength and courage, but perseverance, faith, and hope. There are many lessons and a new appreciation anyone (young or old) can learn from this inspirational book. This one will get a second read soon!
ChameleonLove More than 1 year ago
After reading Beyond Survival, I feel a renewed sense of strength as well as growth. I wish I would have had this book as a resource as I went through hard times and obstacles in my past. Based on real events and within a powerful story about overcoming, rising above, and becoming stronger than ever, Beyond Survival is a life-changing book. It adds perspective that you will be able to take with you. The content is heavy with themes of war, destruction, pain, and adversity. Jerry Coffee realized his own inner-ability to harness his love and passion and leverage it to combat impossible odds. His story will stick with me for life, and I would encourage anyone to dive in and marvel at the story in Beyond Survival. The fact that it comes right from the man who survived it all is triumphant and inspiring. Jerry Coffee is a remarkable man. This is more clear than ever after reading Beyond Survival. As a POW in North Vietnam, it really is impossible odds working against him. Within horrid living conditions and the unfathomable being daily challenges, he shares how his only choice was to look within himself. The untapped strength to overcome began to reveal itself, empowering him to make the most depressing and unbelievable of circumstances turn around. It makes the problems we are facing appear to be much more bearable considering what Jerry went through. It made me emotional and moved to learn what it means to be a human force. My worldview has changed and could not be more sincere about how much Beyond Survival has made an impact of my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heroic. Brave. Inspiring. I can't think of other words that describe this memoir. From the beginning, the book descriptively tells Coffee's story. As I read further, I noticed I was there, in a time and place far before my time. This book is an inspiration for the men and women who served during Vietnam. I can't imagine the overwhelming sense of pride and loss fighting in a war many described as "unwarranted". I'm a USAF veteran, so I hold a special place in my heart for stories and veterans who endured pain and sufferring for the freedom of many. Read this book in remembrance of those who shed their blood for us then and now. 
SGallardo More than 1 year ago
Would love to see this book made into a movie. This is a book of strength, character and perseverance. Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a POW camp so we read books like this to give us some idea. I was so impressed with Jerry's story. It was an honest look at what life was like for him and his fellow service members for seven years. It was a gritty and painful read at some points. You basically get to watch a man deconstructed to his most basic level and then watch how hope and faith sustain him. This books makes you realize that you don’t have problems, nothing of consequence anyway. This book is full of life lessons that we all need to learn. I wouldn't have any trouble recommending this book to anyone. Must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jlavuire More than 1 year ago
Beyond Survival is up there with some of the most powerful, emotion-filled reads that I have read all year. The writing style is rich and it does an excellent job of expressing the story in a captivating manner with also some great, thought-provoking underlying lessons behind it. Though I obviously can't directly relate to the struggles mentioned in the book - I feel that I can apply some of the thinking to situations in some areas of my own life to a lesser degree, so for me, this book is not only ultimately an entertaining read, but also an insightful one in regards to the nature of life and people's principles during hard times. Beyond Survival is definitely a unique 'page-turner' and I know I will be giving it a reread in the near future.
LHCollinsLH More than 1 year ago
A Beautiful Story of Survival and Strength of Spirit I am always interested in reading books like this that explore the trying experiences and survival of those who had a life so far removed from my own. Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times by Captain Gerald Coffee brings his story of survival and of a flourishing life afterward into focus, recounting his time as a POW during the Vietnam War and the experiences he faced once he returned home. This is a beautifully captivating book that brought me to tears and gave me tearful smile as he overcame the troubles of his past and made a new life for himself amidst the psychological and physical remnants of his time as a POW. It really is an inspiring tale that sparks with hope, survival, the strength of the human spirit and the fact that if we put our minds to it we can overcome anything.  Captain Coffee has a talent for writing that is clear in the book, bringing his life and troubles into pinpointed focus with vivid imagery and words that resonate. I really was tempted to give the book 5 stars instead of 4 as it certainly expressed the hope and pain of his experiences in an engaging way... but I decided to go with 4 stars because of the fact that every once in a while the writing would be a little bit stilted. The wording would be slightly off, not so much that it was a chore to read or that kept me from enjoying the book, but enough to take notice of it.  Overall, I was wonderfully inspired and strengthened by Captain Coffee's life story. The book had a definitive quality to it that brought a smile to my face as I finished it and made a distinct impression on my thoughts afterward. It really is a well-written and engaging book that certainly begs to be read and enjoyed. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW ! What an inspiration! After being shot down and captured, Captain Coffee was held captive for seven years in Vietnamese prisons. The torment he endured, physically and mentally was crippling. Sleeping in a cold cell on a concrete floor with only the clothes he was captured in for comfort, it is a miracle how he found the strength to go on! The worst part for me was the rats, which definitely would have finished me off assuming I would have survived that long, but that’s nothing! Coffee goes on making good use of his idle time. He is a strong individual that has earned a place in my heart and mind and his story will never be forgotten. This book is a testament to the strength that can be harnessed from within even when you’re broken. Thank God for the men and women just like Coffee who gave their lives in this awful war, I have gained a high level of appreciation from reading this book. My own problems seem so small after reading this. Much respect. by secretchef