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Paco's Story

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  478 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Paco Sullivan is the only man in Alpha Company to survive a cataclysmic Viet Cong attack on Fire Base Harriette in Vietnam. Everyone else is annihilated. When a medic finally rescues Paco almost two days later, he is waiting to die, flies and maggots covering his burnt, shattered body. He winds up back in the US with his legs full of pins, daily rations of Librium and Vali ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienMatterhorn by Karl MarlantesDispatches by Michael HerrAbsolutely Nothing by Mark A. CooperWe Were Soldiers Once... and Young by Harold G. Moore
Best Literature About the Vietnam War
27th out of 190 books — 365 voters
Sophie's Choice by William StyronThe Shipping News by Annie ProulxInvisible Man by Ralph EllisonThe Corrections by Jonathan FranzenThe World According to Garp by John Irving
National Book Award Winners
76th out of 100 books — 114 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,276)
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Rob
Aug 27, 2007 Rob rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
what an awful piece of writing. the voice is the most irritating i have ever encountered. on the same page, the tone careens back and forth between pretentious pseudo-literary over-writing (words like "lilting" and "echo-ous", endless strings of adjectives, dumb similes, and lists of meaningless descriptive details) and larry-the-cable-guy haw haw blather (bangin pussy, smokin dope, gettin some, know-it-all winking nonchalance). and there is no doubt that it is supposed to be a single voice. the ...more
Laura
This is a book written by an old graduate school instructor of mine (an instructor whose last class meeting of the quarter nearly got all of us drunk graduate students kicked out of school and arrested [as it turned out, only one of us got arrested (not me) and we all got kicked off of campus. But that's a story for another day, as Larry would say]). My bias aside, however, it's a terrific war (post-war) story told by a ghost. Literally.
Sheehan
Started out really liking (4stars) the book, which follows a lone surviving vet in his returning travails to the States, but waned to just liking it (3stars) as the resolution of the story sort of deflated the first 2/3rds storyline. Most of the characters kind of monologue in a not entirely plausible way, but the topics, time frame and perspective of the returning vet and the people he met, were very interesting, and a bit novel from other things I have read.

I had initially thought this book ri
...more
Dennis Henn
National Book Award winner? The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "Exceptional for its bleak, shared unexceptional reality." It was bleak. Eliminate the gratuitous profanity and the book shrinks by a third. Exceptional for its unexceptional reality. An odd statement. Maybe I didn't get the book. I have read much better books on Vietnam.
Sarah Funke
It's no "The Things They Carried," but then it's not trying to be. Depressing but good.
Dan
How does one write in such a way that every sentence is poetry...?
Serena
Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann chronicles the war experiences of Paco, the only surviving soldier of the Fire Base Harriette massacre from Alpha Company. The narrative is unusual in that Paco does not tell his own story of his survival or his recovery and ultimate return to the United States from the Vietnam War. Though readers get to know Paco through the eyes of others and his nightmares, Paco is a vivid and lost character in search of peace.

"Paco is in constant motion, trying to get settled
...more
Audrey-Uyen Hoang
Paco's story is written with graphic, lyrical language that brings his horrific war memories, and his trying to fit in as a veteran of a war that nobody really understood, to life. Heinemann writes in an unusual, dream-like way that just draws the reader in, until they feel like they are feeling what Paco feels. He writes of Paco's seemingly mundane experiences and transforms them into something cathartic.

Paco's story has some clever conceits: there is the narrator, who only reveals himself slow
...more
James
Paco’s Story is the simple tale of a soldier who is grievously wounded during the Vietnam War. Heinemann begins the novel by showing us Paco’s horrific physical injuries, but really the book is about the equally debilitating mental injuries he carries with him. The writer uses the blunt simple speech of the soldier and small town denizens of Boone, Texas to great effect. His prose is lean and hard. The plot of the story is incredibly simple and is designed not to get in the way of one of the nov ...more
Wendy
In Larry Heineman's Paco's Story, Paco was the only surviving soldier after a raid that decimated his unit. With both physical and mental scars, Paco re-enters society, going through the motions of life. Readers are offered a glimpse at how a soldier from that war was treated upon his return, both with disdain and occasional pride. We get an inside look at the horrors of war, and Heineman pulls no punches in describing the war in brutal and honest terms.

Paco's Story began strong, one of those bo
...more
Lois
Sep 05, 2008 Lois rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military veterans,Vietnam vets,anyone interested in learning more about Vietnam,
Paco's Story is about young Paco Sullivan. Sole survivor of his unit's ambush, he has returned to the States to look for work. Left with painful injuries that require powerful painkillers every day, Paco encounters both curiousity and discrimination from the locals in the small town he ends up in.

Paco's story is written with graphic, lyrical language that brings his horrific war memories, and his trying to fit in as a veteran of a war that nobody really understood, to life. Heinemann writes in
...more
Thoa KÒi
Đầu tiên, xét về trang bìa thì bìa gốc có vẻ hấp dẫn, có sức hút hơn với độc giả để rút tiền ra mua sách so với sách được dịch và xuất bản tại VN.
Và bìa sau của sách thì được giới thiệu đây là tác phẩm đạt giải thưởng.
Thứ nữa để bỏ tiền ra mua là bởi đây là cuốn sách hiếm hoi mà tôi được đọc viết về chiến tranh VN dưới góc nhìn của 1 lính Mỹ bình thường, không phải một vị quân sự, vị tướng hay đại loại thế nào đó.
Khá khó để đọc tác phẩm ở nửa đầu. Đối với tôi nó khá là rời rạc với câu chuyện của
...more
Rachael
the author was my creative writing professor at texas a&m & he was amazing. i was a bit desensitized to the book, as he had told our class about a few of the more gruesome scenes, so i wasn't as offended by the audacities of war that the american soldiers committed against the vietnamese, particularly the women. larry is a great writer. he also liked me a lot & gave me a's, so that helps. he really liked my hair.
Johnny
Strangely hard to find even as we are again mired in a horrible, endless, an increasingly pointless war, "Paco's Story" represents another piece of the Vietnam literature canon, along with the works of Fussell, O'Brien, and other. The opening vignette could be a story in itself and propels the unique narrative within the story. Someday this novel will receive its due
Ferris
Audiobook...........Stark, disturbing, evocative..........Try to imagine being a living ghost, whom no one really sees, disfigured by war wounds after supposedly fighting for your country, and the sole survivor of an attack on your unit in Vietnam. Enough said!
Ms.P
An incredibly disturbing story, but powerful as well. There are some scenes of extreme violence, but the voice is true. An important novel for those interested in the soldier's experience of Vietnam-and after.
Eddie
if you could give 1/2 stars, this would rate a 3.5. it won the nat'l book award, and i really enjoyed it, but it was a little rough around the edges. still. anyone interested in vietnam lit has to read this.
Ana Cunningham
Absolutely fascinating and life-changing novel. Besides the fact that I actually finished this book for class, it was such a gripping and heart-wrenching tale. I cannot wait to read more from Larry Heinemann!
Sycobabel
Harrowing but mesmerizing. Well deserving of the National Book Award. Heinemann has an explosive, raw writing style. Reminded me a bit of Céline's Journey to the End of the Night.
Tom
Account of the survivor of a Vietnam massacre, and his life after he returns to the U.S. Stark reading, but it gives a good feel for what these guys had/have to endure.
Ann-marie
Elegant, brutal, timeless. Should be on more reading lists. If you've read or teach Tim O'Brien's work, assign this as well. Just read it.
don  Presnell
when this young man accepts just a little grace
his whole world spins around and everything is just fucked up Again
Kimberley


Richly descriptive, an American story through and through, totally unforgettable, so glad to have read this story.
Nic
How this won the National Book Award is beyond me. Foul, vulgar language, boring story and no redeeming value/moral/point.
Johnplavelle
Larry Heinemann described the Vietnam Memorial long before it was designed and he hit it right on the head.
Rebecca
I still remember the haunting feeling I experienced when I realized "who" is the narrator of Paco's Story.
Paul
There is a scene in this book that was so powerful that I startled when I read it.
Melissa
I loved this book and the description and the reality of the Vietnam War
Neil
Another great Nam book.
Tony Perry
Incredible piece of work!
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Larry Heinemann (born 1944) is an American novelist born and raised in Chicago. His body of work is primarily concerned with the Vietnam War. Mr. Heinemann served a combat tour in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 with the 25th Infantry Division, and has described himself as the most ordinary of soldiers. Mr. Heinemann's military experience is documented in his most recent work, Black Virgin Mountain (200 ...more
More about Larry Heinemann...
Close Quarters: A Novel Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam Cooler by the Lake Close Quarters Larry Heinemann Reads Paco's Story (Excerpts)

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