Karen Black is a retired certified Estate Planner, Trust, Probate and Elder Law attorney, having practiced in Escondido, California for over thirty years. Her diverse background includes legal secretary, construction estimator and office manager; Suzuki motorcycle dealer and truck bumper salesperson. Karen has four children and Cole has one son from a previous marriage. She now enjoys writing, doing jigsaw puzzles and spending time with her two dogs.
Karen’s husband, Cole Black, spent almost seven years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam which inspired her to write and publish Code of Conduct, a historical novel inspired by her husband, Cole Black’s almost seven-year ordeal in North 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.com
Cheers and Check Six!
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.
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.
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 elephant 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.
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 something 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!
I just wanted you to know I couldn’t put it down.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
(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.
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 heroes 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.”
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.
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.
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
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
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.
I’m sure I told you, but the book was terrific…write another one.