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Hostage Etiquette

March 08, 1987|David Fox

Don't leave home without it: Vice Adm. James Stockdale's upcoming book with the working title "How to Behave as a Hostage."

Stockdale, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, knows the territory--he was a prisoner for 7 1/2 years in North Vietnam. The story of his ordeal and wife Sybil's stateside political struggle on his behalf will air as an NBC movie March 16, "In Love and War," with James Woods, Jane Alexander and Dr. Haing S. Ngor.

Stockdale said he wouldn't presume to advise someone who is being held at gunpoint--especially in the first few hours. "Anything can happen at that point," he said. But if the gunpoint situation becomes "a way of life," there are certain things a political prisoner can do--which he is outlining as he writes his manual for Harper & Row.

Among the points he'll cover:

Establish an equilibrium with the captors--you cannot allow yourself to plead or be the sort of person who is vulnerable to the captor's desires.

Don't be hostile--be enigmatic.

Don't try to level with your captor--you'll never convince him/her of your virtue.

Learn how to retain your self-respect.

We suggest that he also might add: For vacations, avoid Beirut, Tripoli or Tehran.

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