Paco’s Story Readalong Week 1

This is week 1 of the Paco’s Story read-a-long, and the first discussion questions were posted on Wednesday, July 7 for Chapters 1 and 2.

Paco’s Story is about the soul survivor of the Fire Base Harriette massacre where Alpha Company was obliterated.  Heinemann’s writing is raw and honest, and in the first Chapters we’re introduced to Paco through an unnamed narrator, who could be the ghost of a soldier killed in action during the massacre.  Readers learn that Paco is the soul survivor from Alpha Company, and his survival had a serious impact on a medic who until he met Paco had failed to save many soldiers injured in the Vietnam War.

The unnamed narrator is brutal in his honesty about Paco’s injuries and the devastation suffered by soldiers in the field.  He wants to tell his story, Paco’s story, even if people are unprepared to hear it or don’t want to hear it at all.  This is a story that must be told.  I wonder if that is how Heinemann felt while he was writing this novel — did he believe that this story was his calling, something he had to tell.

Even if you aren’t participating in the Vietnam War Reading Challenge, we hope that you will join us for the Paco’s Story read-a-long.  Until next week.


  1. This has been a rough one for me to read, even thought I expected it to be “raw.” I am continuing though, probably because of the “importance” aspect. The details need to be shared so we can get at least a small inkling of how hellish it was over there. I keep reminding myself of that!

    • I’m glad that you are sticking with the book even though it is hard to read. The rawness makes the experience as real as it can be for someone who has never experienced war… at least that’s how it seems to me.
      Serena´s last blog post ..Winners!

  2. I don’t think I’m going to post every week, but I’m enjoying your posts so far.

    This is one of the most gripping, honest, and important books about Vietnam that I’ve ever read. It makes me wonder how many horrors Heinemann witnessed. This definitely reads like he needed to get this off his chest, and I can’t blame him.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Mailbox Monday — July 12

  3. I cannot wait to catch up on everyone’s take on the first two chapters and to see what happens next.

  4. I am enjoying the discussion so far, Serena. It’s interesting, especially, to read everyone’s take on the medic and his change of heart. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Paco, being the only survivor. I’m looking forward to reading further later this week.
    Literary Feline´s last blog post ..Sunday Salon- The Vietnam War My Reading- Part 1

  5. I’m really excited that you’re featuring so many Vietnam stories. This is one that has captured my attention. I’m eagerly looking forward to your next post about it.

  6. I have a penchant for books set during this war, and had not heard much about this book until the readalong. That being said, I think this book sounds really unique in its presentation of warfare and character. I would love to get the chance to read this book and will be following along with your readalong posts as well. I hope that you end up enjoying the book!
    zibilee´s last blog post ..The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri — 304 pgs

    • It is not too late to join the readalong and the Vietnam War reading challenge. If you are interested, please visit the War Through the Generations web site for more information. You only need to read 5 books or watch 2 movies and read 3 books to participate.
      Serena´s last blog post ..To Kill a Mockingbird is 50

  7. You are right, the story must be told. This is the third Vietnam novel I’ve read and I’m constantly thinking about how HARD it must have been for veterans to come home and share their experiences. On the other hand, hard as it was, it has to be cathartic. I was so devastated by O’Brien’s story about the man who came home to a hometown where nobody wanted to hear him talk about it, and felt lonely and isolated. Which I am sure is why the medic continues to sit in the bar and tell his stories.
    Sandy´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday- Yosemite 1

    • There are some Vietnam Veterans today that are still not talking about it. My uncle is one of them, unfortunately. It must be a release to get the stories out, but in some cases, maybe they become too real for some people if they talk about them.
      Serena´s last blog post ..To Kill a Mockingbird is 50