Times of London Article:
Abraham's Bogus Story
You should have come to this page from an article about British citizen Tom Abraham,
author of a book titled The Cage in which he claims to have been a captive of "the
Viet Cong" for several days while he was a platoon leader with the 1st Cav Division
in Vietnam. His claim to have been a prisoner is bogus. If you have not read
the original article, read it at this link.
The following article was published in the London newspaper The Times of London.
this link to read the article on the Times site. The article is quoted
below because the link may not work -- I do not know how long they archive articles on
their web site.
Vietnam war story 'is just fiction'
WAS billed as one of the publishing sensations of the year: the true story of a gallant
young Englishman who joined the US Army and suffered terrible torments in Vietnam.
Tom Abrahams account of how
he was captured by the Vietcong and pushed into a bamboo cage half submerged in a
rat-infested lake suggested that he could be the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film The
In his book, The Cage,
published last month, Abraham recounts how he escaped and returned to England with a
chestful of medals, including the Silver Star, then married, had children and built a
successful business career.
More than 30 years later,
according to the blurb on the back cover, a trivial encounter with the police began
a catastrophic chain of events. He lost everything his family, his home, his
self-respect. It became all too obvious that the psychological and emotional wounds he
received in Vietnam were still festering.
It was fascinating stuff. It
earned Abraham an advance in excess of £100,000 and his publisher, Bantam, sold the
serial rights to the Daily Mail for a five-figure sum. Radio listeners heard
Abraham break down and sob as he told Michael Buerk of his ordeal on Radio 4s The
Veterans groups in America,
however, say that his story is not true. According to the US Department of Defence, he was
never captured, there were no Vietcong tormentors, there was no bamboo cage and no
Although Abraham undoubtedly
served in Vietnam, and was decorated for his service during the war, there are question
marks over the central episode in his book. Veterans groups are furious about the
publication of The Cage.
Many genuine ex-PoWs have
contacted us about Mr Abrahams book, all of whom are telling us that he is a phoney,
said Mary Schantag, a spokeswoman for the Missouri-based PoW Network.
Mrs Schantags group has
unmasked more than 700 fake PoWs from Vietnam. We have never had to issue a
retraction or apology since we were founded 13 years ago, she said.
Every single prisoner of
war from Vietnam was thoroughly documented and debriefed after their ordeal. Abraham does
not appear on any record of PoWs or those reported as missing in action during the entire
war. I think Abraham is a sick man. His story is a sham. If I met him, what I would say to
him you could not put in print.
At the end of the Vietnam War,
the Pentagon issued a definitive list of all personnel, both American and foreign, who
were known to have been either reported missing in action or taken as prisoners of war.
Abrahams name does not appear on it.
Only 28 personnel managed to
escape from the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese during the entire war, and Vietnam veterans
find it inconceivable that Abraham was an unknown 29th.
Paul Galanti, held captive by the
North Vietnamese in the infamous Hanoi Hilton for 2,432 days, is a prominent
former PoW who poured scorn on Abrahams claims. I know all the names of former
PoWs, he said. Indeed, our press made a big deal of it when we got back.
Former PoWs all received an
extensive six-month debriefing, combined with hospital treatment, on their return. His
story simply does not gel. None of us were treated in the way he describes, Mr
Last night Abrahams
ex-wife, Debbie, said that he had written to her every day when he was in Vietnam, but did
not mention being captured by the Vietcong.
He would tell me so much
about Vietnam and also include Polaroid photos of his time there, said Mrs Abraham,
55, a district nurse from Petersfield, Hampshire. In fact many of the photos in the
book are mine the ones he sent to me.
Oddly enough, the only
thing in the book that I didnt understand were the 48 hours when he wrote he had
been captured and put in a cage. In none of his letters did he say anything to me about
this experience. Ive been meaning to ask him about it but I had no reason to
In his book Abraham writes about
business failure, drunken violence and a catastrophic domestic life which culminated in
him taking a knife to his second wife. He blames his supposed experiences in captivity for
triggering this behaviour.
He was not available to comment
yesterday. Mark Lucas, his agent, whose clients include the former SAS sergeant Andy
McNab, said: When somebody walks through my door I dont immediately put my
people on to investigate what he says. I cannot produce a signed affidavit from Toms
torturer, but I am completely convinced by his account.
Mr Lucas denied that the book
stood or fell on the disputed claims of Abrahams alleged captivity by the Vietcong.
If you like, this story is more about the cage of memory, he said.
Mr Lucas was unable to produce
any documentary evidence to support his clients claims.
Abrahams editor at Bantam,
Bill Scott-Carr, said: When you buy a book like this from an agent, you buy it as a
package and you have to assume that some checking has taken place.
Mr Scott-Carr has seen copies of
Abrahams US Army discharge papers. But all these mention are his dates of
service and medals, he said. They do not mention PoW status.
When questioned by Michael Buerk
about the veracity of his account, Abraham insisted that he stood by his story and claimed
that Pentagon record-keeping was flawed. I agree there is a listing of missing
people and of PoWs, but I have to believe that the list is probably substantially
incorrect, he said. I cant say that their records are incorrect, I can
only assume that they are because Im not on it. More I cannot say.
The PoW Network has now applied
for Abrahams service records under the Freedom of Information Act. Mrs Schantag
said: We know he wasnt a PoW, but his record will tell us what he really did
do in Vietnam. Its a time bomb ticking under his book.
Warren Bud Williams, a
former Green Beret major, said yesterday of Abraham: In my opinion he deserves
recognition for his contributions, but no quarter at all for the false claims. And for him
to blame Vietnam for all his misfortunes is an insult to all of us who fought there. I
have no sympathy for him.