Interview with Larry Heinemann, Chicago-based author and Vietnam War veteran

March 25, 1996
 

Larry Heinemann is an American novelist born and raised in Chicago. His published work—three novels and a memoir—is primarily concerned with the Vietnam War. He drew most directly on his Vietnam experience in his first novel Close Quarters which was published in 1977. His second and critically most acclaimed novel is Paco's Story, which won the 1987 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.

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This is focus 580 our telephone talk program. Welcome back to hour number two of the show. My name is David Inge. Glad to have you with us in this part of focus 580. We’ll be talking with the Chicago writer Larry Heinemann. He is was born and grew up in Chicago. He is a Vietnam War veteran and says that both of those experiences having been in Vietnam and growing up in Chicago have shaped his writing. He was the author of a novel called Paco’s Story which is about the homecoming of a Vietnam veteran and won the 1987 National Book Award. The book that he wrote before that was published before that was about the experience of combat in

Vietnam the title of that book close quarters. His most recent is cooler by the lake which is set in Chicago and he told me yesterday has nothing whatsoever to do with Vietnam. He is now working on a book about travel by rail in Vietnam. And he has spent some time here visiting on the campus of the University of Illinois talking with students talking about writing generally and his writing specifically and was good enough to come by and spend all the time talking with us here this morning as we do talk. If you have questions you certainly should feel free to call in here. The number in Champaign-Urbana 3 3 3

9 4 5 5. That’s the local number we do also have a toll free line. That’s good. Anywhere that you can hear us and that is 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 so 3 3 3. W-why L-L and 800. 1:58 W-why allow those numbers. Thank you for being here. My pleasure.

Very much the the novel Paco’s Story opens up with the narrator or the storyteller or the voice saying this is not a war story and then goes on to talk about the fact that people don’t generally don’t want to hear horror stories. He actually does go on to tell some more stories. And by way of talking about the character Paco who who was in Vietnam and was in a firefight and his entire platoon was wiped out. He was the only man to survive.

And then the story really is about his coming home and his experiences being back in the United States. But I’m I’m curious about that very point that you that you make right up front that people don’t want to hear war stories. And whether that was part of your experience when you came back that people and maybe you wanted to talk about what you had seen and what had happened to you and that people didn’t really want to hear about it.

Well when I came back this was in March of 68. I was one of those people that came back and simply couldn’t shut up about it. I went back to school that fall to Columbia College in Chicago. And I was in classes with people that had basically got their head knocked during the Democratic convention that that August. And generally my experience then was that there was a kind of well they wanted to hear and they didn’t want to hear. There were people

who said not to my face but you know sort of the spirit of the response was how dare you tell these stories. How dare you use this language. Because both my Vietnam books are distinctly blunt. I think it is a polite way to say it how dare you represent this point of view which was the soldier’s point of view which you know 25 years ago was I mean we were perceived generally as part of the problem. But I was not one of those people that went to my room and I’ve been drinking my liver out for 25 years.

Why. Why I became a writer. The first novel is my story. Close quarters. It’s the narrator and I share a great many things although he is not me. I know a great deal about him. He doesn’t know a thing about me. Philip Dozier is 19. The book was published in 77. It took eight years eight years to write. When the book was finished there were a good many people including my wife who said now that you’ve finished your story you can go on to other kinds of writing. But

for those of us who are old enough to remember back then there was in 1977 the discussion had barely begun. The war was only had only been over for two years. The writing by veterans before 1975 was scanty at best.

You can probably count the number of good books good writing on the fingers of one hand there were a couple of David RAIB stage plays a couple of anthologies of poetry and prose published by the Vietnam Veterans of America Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the early 70s. There was a volume of poetry called obscenities by Michael Casey that he was the Yale younger poet in 1972. There was a novel by a fellow by the name of Robert Roth called sand in the wind which was about the Marine Corps and that was published in 73.

The only book he published in it was I’ve never run into the man I never met him. It was a very good book. After 1975 Maybe I should say since 1975 there’s been a tremendous amount of writing about the war anyway. It’s something like eight hundred novels since 75 in 1977. The discussion about the war was barely begun. We had heard a great deal from journalists and documentaries and nonfiction work and

and philosophers and the Monday morning quarterbacks and lifers in the government of course have been putting out its story the whole you know the whole time.

But the soldiers themselves really hadn’t had much to say on the subject.

So I turned around and despite advice from everyone around me who loved me I turned around and wrote a story in the very first perception I had about all stories is that nobody does want to hear them. Even the good Wars quote unquote the good wars. The one thing that you can say that an infantryman a soldier brings back from a war is a memory a very lively memory of extraordinary ugliness. And it’s not a story that’s pleasant to hear

and it’s not a story that’s all that much fun to tell and to begin the story by saying that this is not a war story. Well it really is the one big irony of the book it really isn’t a war story it’s about a guy who comes back from overseas and gets a job washing dishes in a greasy spoon restaurant and it’s you know it’s about a dishwasher basically at one level but it really is a war story because of the war. What happened to him in the war and what what he saw what he did and what he became.

Certainly reverberates in his life and the book was not a great pleasure to write. It also took eight years.

The first book close quarters that that book opens with this character Bill Dozier when he is he’s reporting for it for the first day of his assignment in in the field. He’s like in all. All shined up and cleaned and pressed and sort of open as he sort of standing there and the impressions that he gets. And I think the reader gets and I think you do a really wonderful job of making it really make the reader sort of feel it in the impressions of heat and sweat and dirt and it’s

you know to me it’s very tactile book and I think and I think I really felt I tried to skim it and it was not possible to do that because I felt I could continue to grab me. And you and and I think as much as possible obviously for someone not having been there I think you start to feel what it must have felt like and it’s very it seems very much to be a book that’s just simply saying this is what it was like maybe not so much passing judgment one way or another but saying you know this this this is what the experience was like. You know this is what it feels like this is in as much as I can make you feel what

it feels.

I took my cue.

Oddly enough perhaps not oddly at all from Melville’s Moby Dick.

At a certain level you can regard being a combat infantry man is a job. They even speak of it as a job. Now this is my job. My job is to jump out of airplanes at a thousand feet. It’s stoop labor it’s pick and shovel work.

It’s a lot of walking around and humping a pack and so forth and you know at a certain level it’s it’s a job story just like Moby Dick. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. I think it’s the hardest work anybody will ever do and it’s basically an alien experience. It was an alien experience to me when I first got there and it certainly is an alien experience to anyone not anyone but to a great many people who would listen to the stories and read the read the book.

And as a writer I felt obliged to make the work.

Well tactile you know as physically accessible as possible so I mean I’m one of those people who thinks that writing simply doesn’t happen from the neck up you know that it really is OK and is needful.

And the good stories that I know are this way. There is almost a physical response from the reader or the listener to be able to have some empathy and we’re not talking sympathy we’re not talking sort of a kind of pity we’re just an understanding of what that work is by making you feel it almost physically and as an infantryman anyway. And in any infantry man will tell you this. It’s the one thing about the work that’s true. It is a tactile experience.

You’re in the field after a while you begin to understand that the only thing you do have. The only thing left to you is your physical body. And it’s hot and wet and you’re tired and exhausted and you don’t get enough food.

There’s never enough to eat.

You don’t get enough rest your. Well what’s the word.

You’re at a level of anxiety that is consistent and somewhat elevated because it can happen it can happen any minute.

Those are the kinds of things that I tried to express and make them clear in a way that the person that the reader would be able to get is almost a physical sense of that.

So it’s interesting you should mention Moby Dick because it is absolutely true. As I was reading the beginning of Pasko story and the the story was related related about how he was only the only survivor. I’d swear to you the line came to my head only I am a escaped to tell the is which is the last line of Moby Dick and that’s it Miles.

You know all the famous the famous first and last line Call me Ishmael and only Imust gave the Dalai or Pasko is the only one who escapes but he doesn’t have anything to say.

It’s Poch O’s story but he doesn’t.

He doesn’t tell his own story. That’s also something that’s very striking about the book and indeed that there is there is this narrator who tells a great story and here and pocket with there is very very few words in that book that are actually Packo’s speaking right.

Well it’s it’s sort of like the old gag. You know the children who don’t who don’t speak or don’t learn to speak until they’re three four or five years old and the old gag is well they have they really have nothing to say which I mean anyone who with children knows that kids have plenty to say at that age but it really was a surprise when I started working on the story.

I suddenly discovered at the end of the first chapter that the storyteller the storytellers voice is really the collective perception of the 93 dead guys. It’s a company not a platoon.

It’s his whole company that’s wiped out.

And they speak with one voice like Joseph Conrad’s story of the Nigger of the Narcissus where the the the ship’s crew speaks with one voice we the other.

Q The other thing I stole the other Q I took was from Mark Twain’s autobiography and in the beginning of the autobiography he says right out front that the autobiography is not going to be published until after he’s dead so he will be literally speaking from the grave and therefore feels well a freedom to speak his mind.

And sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t. Do you have. When you read the autobiography at least what I’ve published versions that I’ve read it seems to be a little left out here and there but basically you get the idea and the 1993 guys who are dead they’re really angry and they don’t feel that they have to be polite to anybody on anybody’s account their relationship with pocket was even a little ironic.

The package was as good as left for dead.

Their presence in his imagination and you know like in the back of his mind they are always there and it is it’s as if they are speaking to him and for him. And they they have a great deal to say about a lot of things that it’s not you know some of it is just not pleasant to read. It wasn’t a lot of fun to write either.

I think they do a much better job at telling his story than he would. I think he would have left the lot out at all. His story is not interesting to him. Pasko I mean he’s not particularly interested in telling it to anyone not even Ernest the guy he who owns the greasy spoon that he who owns the Texas lunch the greasy spoon where pocket works.

Paco would just pretty much keeps to himself.

He’s got a great deal of one of the patterns that people get into when they go through a traumatic event and this is any kind of traumatic event that a lot of the while that the expressive anger a lot of negative feelings that a person comes out of a trauma with is often self-directed and that’s not healthy. You know it’s one of the things about being a storyteller which to me means healthy which is I get to basically

testify you know like in court some men who came back and women who didn’t testify or felt that they didn’t have permission to testify all of those things are inner directed. And that’s not good for people like that don’t live long like that anyway.

It’s something like that. Our guest this morning is writer Larry Heinemann. He’s written two books about Vietnam close quarters and Packo’s story and one that has nothing to do with Vietnam. It’s cooler by the lake. And right now he’s working on a book about rail travel in Vietnam. He’s spending some time on the campus and we’re talking about his writing if you have questions 3:33 to you while at 800 1:58. While I’m having the opportunity now to talk with and meet with students you my students for people who were not even born when you came home from Vietnam they of you when you went to Vietnam there wouldn’t be some time

before they would be born. And I’m curious about what kind of questions they were for or they have no memories of Vietnam and may have gotten precious little about it as they come up through school. You know what sort of things they ask about it or do they ask about. Well yes.

And I must say that there’s a great curiosity among young students and this has been my experience with any campus visit that I’ve made in 10 15 years but now perhaps more so.

They want to know what that was. You know what was the point. There seems to be confusion about just simple facts.

You know who was hoti men you know who were the northern Vietnamese Communists the same as the Southern Vietnamese Viet Cong which they weren’t. It was two separate political entities.

You know why were we there. Why did it take so long.

Why did we lose the war. Well not exactly why we lost the war but how was it that the Vietnamese won. No.

I mean here was it was a culture where 80 85 percent of the people still lived on small hole farms and Vietnamese farming is sort of a sophisticated gardening.

You know it’s not farming the way you know we understand it in this neck of the woods. The most complicated piece of machinery on a farm would be an £800000 water buffalo. You know that’s as complicated as it gets. They want to know the facts. You know I think one of the reasons there’s a curiosity about it and this is one of the also one of the reasons why the war is still a lively topic is that in this culture the country is still living with the reverberations from the

war in a way that is both. Well I think it has been quite destructive.

This matter of children with guns you know a lot of quote unquote sort of culture wide quote unquote violence.

You know you could trace it back to that whole epoch of American history. There’s a kind of destruction of trust of government and trust of people who we elect as leaders distrust of the military you know which used to be well don’t I don’t know how remarkably honorable it ever was to be a draftee But you know are certainly people now that shun military service. There’s no conscription and that forces the you know the armed forces to do things that they

wouldn’t ordinarily have to do. And you know the fact that there’s no conscription sort of cuts both ways. It’s in a democracy everybody is supposed to pony up like one of the instructors whose class I sat in on is a veteran of the Israeli army. And he and I were talking about this and the sort of contrast and comparison between the Israeli army and the American Army and in Israel when you’re 18. Everybody who turns 18 serves you do two years active duty and then you are in the reserves until you’re 45 years old.

Israel is an armed camp. And you’re issued a weapon and you keep it. Sort of like in Switzerland. Same thing although you never hear of the Swiss Army doing anything except making knives in this country.

The people who generally wind up in the armed services are kids who see the armed service as a way to get up and out. It’s a sort of poor man’s travel agency because you get to travel the world and see how the other half lives. The downside of it is everybody wears the same shirt day in and day out.

And when the kitchen is closed the kitchen is closed and there are some examples of people who are distinctly not your betters telling you what to do.

Morning noon and night. You know like how to tie your shoes. You know how to wear your belt buckle how to get your hair cut stuff like that. So it cut both.

So anyway the kids around here ask very specific particulars or simple ordinary garden variety questions like What was that and what does it mean. And how come you became a writer because of it which is an irony all by itself because there are a number of writers who came out of Vietnam or experience who would have been house painters mill workers which means of course they now they’d be out of a job at least the mill workers would have liked that. I

know that if I hadn’t become a writer I would have become a bus driver like my old man.

We’re talking this morning with the Chicago novelist Larry Heinemann. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War he was inducted into the army in 1966 and served as a combat infantry men in Vietnam. He was born and raised in Chicago. He’s the author of two books touching on Vietnam. Both novels close quarters. His first and then Packo’s story which won the 1987 National Book Award. His most recent is cooler by the lake which is a humorous look at Chicago life and is now working on a book about travel by rail in Vietnam. Questions are welcome. We do have a couple of people here lined up 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 Champaign-Urbana number we

do also have a toll free line good anywhere you can hear us around Illinois and Indiana. Eight hundred to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Let’s talk with some folks here. First in Eureka line for hello hello.

Yes. I guess I was most interested in what might be the student of today’s reaction toward you after they have heard what I think you are giving is a very realistic and accurate answer to what went on during the war.

I’m I guess I’m confirmed in your repetition of their questions about Karr who was Holcim in the difference in communism in the north and the South. I guess what I need to get more specific is you know many of them in their answers come to what you might think would be a fairly accurate understanding of what the war was and why people became so anti-war during that time. Well the discussion that I’ve had with students who’ve never actually got that far what I’ve tried to do is

explain a little about what I know this. Your own business or. To in to. Your character to get it to your take people to. The. To get ticket to get sick of getting

or if it’s. For. Our students to to listen to your. Or to your car or look I’m going to for

you thing. To.

Not too much has gotten well the discussion never gets that far about why the there was this earnest particular very clear dichotomy between the American people and the American government. The one thing that I do tell them is a kind of a shorthand which addresses your common question is that I started going back to Vietnam in 1990 about six years ago and you know you’re sort of as a writer you

ask a writerly question. And the Vietnamese have all told me that they were always able to make the distinction between the American people and the American government and that’s about as close as the discussion gets. Most of the classes and most of the talks I have given have only lasted an hour hour and a half or two hours. And as you know the subject is enormous.

So they just get to the point that you are you’re just sort of making a very skillful outline of what the terms meant. Yes giving them an understanding I guess I guess I need to be brief but I guess I think the rationalizations I’ve heard from many of them Millet’s Well not exactly but it sort of came out in the call for the militaristic rationalizations of having the Vietnam syndrome and realizing you can’t compact your own experience and that there is the guy in real life people who live before us has had a longer range. But if it just strikes me as almost a

kind of hallucination that myths can be created such utter in my opinion about what went on and people still tend to believe me but I guess if you get the people that haven’t lived through their minds are kind of a blank slate in terms of what the hell.

All right. You’re absolutely correct. I know in 1990 during the during the Gulf War it was astonishing to me how the propaganda about the war was cranked up so quickly. I mean I live in well about the about the war and all of a sudden everyone is so enthusiastic for this and I have to tell you I had myself and a lot of other Vietnam veterans I know were upset is not the word I think extremely agitated about

how it was dealt with. There were. You remember that fall there was a build up of troops in Saudi Arabia. And then the bombing started and then the ground war which lasted for three days or so. And it was all of veterans I know were extremely agitated about it. I was surprised that the advertising and the mythology of it and this whole matter of now we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome you know turned around so quickly.

It was brilliant from our propagandistic point of view.

I was very successful. I mean we the government sold a war. Yes.

Yes. It’s put in that’s what is not old age that it’s whatever million dollars a Kuwaiti paid help Nolfi that a PR firm in Washington D.C..

Right. David may I ask one more question as I look back on that time.

It was I was in college by 68 to 72 I guess almost during the height of it I think and I come from a peace church background a pacifistic background. I think one of the things I learned going States is the fact that the peace movement in general I don’t think tried to understand the average soldier maybe as much as they could have you see any of that understanding coming about and how would you suggest people were not actually in it but had philosophical strong philosophical objections to what may come to a better understanding now.

Well that’s actually that’s a pretty loaded question.

I finally came to the conclusion that the culture as a whole at the very least had a extraordinary ambivalence about the soldiers that came back from overseas. And I’m not exactly certain that I would have appreciated a while I know for a fact I wouldn’t have appreciated a parade by the time I got back to Oakland Army Terminal. Parade was about the last thing I think I needed. I also did not need everyone buying me drinks. Everywhere I went

I don’t know what other veterans felt like but I had the distinct understanding and it was illustrated to me in very vivid ways that I had been party to an evil and I’m not exactly sure how you would make someone feel good about themselves about about something like that. The cult this culture really does not have mechanisms in rituals aside from the parades and memorials that deal with the

kinds of issues that veterans that a soldier brings back from a war zone. The rituals are quite inadequate. I wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway. And it just wasn’t the kind of thing in 1968 that I needed. The one thing I can say about that time in my life for instance I came home in March actually 28 years ago about a week ago April 4th Martin Luther King was shot dead in June. Bobby Kennedy was murdered and then in Chicago came the

Democratic convention in August.

And by the end of that summer and I got a job driving a Chicago city bus that summer and drove through the park and down by the Hilton all that week and by the end of the summer I thought that the war had followed me home and I didn’t want anything to do with it. And if someone had come up to me and say well let’s go to and which they did. Let’s go to a peace demonstration or anti-war demonstration.

No no thanks. I had the distinct feeling that this was not my country that this was not my time that I was not coming home. It’s almost like you were coming home to a mad house and I didn’t want anything to do with it.

And I’m not exactly sure how the culture would have dealt with that.

I know for a fact that I didn’t get much help from priests or the church or any you know any sort of spiritual guidance.

And you were pretty much left on your own and it was it’s a difficult thing to try to rediscover your own humanity. You and not have any Q’s much much CU’s although I got cues from Moby Dick in the Iliad and more in peace. And thin red line and things like that.

But you were really on your own server when I was in college and all of a good many of the kids around me were active in the anti-war movement.

There was tremendous peer teaching going on.

One of the things I tried to get the kids that I was going to school with and they were my age I shouldn’t call them kids you know. I tried to get them to understand in the most vivid way I could you know you’re right to be against the war.

This is an evil thing. If you go overseas the least it’s going to happen to you is a kind of brutalization and destruction of you as a human being you’re going to come out of that changed any way that is not healthy and is is really destructive.

And the war. Trust me the war is pointless. There were there was a lot of anti-war feeling overseas. It didn’t exactly take the form of you know any kind of activism until after the murder of King and later the most sophisticated it ever got was a kind of group perception that this is pointless.

I mean there’s other more blunt ways to say it but we’re on the radio and and you can’t use that language. But you know this you know take this war and just put it where the sun don’t shine. You know it’s you know people are getting you know Americans are getting hurt for nothing and we’re destroying the Vietnamese.

I mean that culture was changed in ways that were not. It wasn’t good you know. I mean practical things like they are still dealing with Agent Orange dioxin that’s still in their ecology. You were responsible for that.

Let’s talk with them. I hate to interrupt you but when we talk with them. OK. I’m sorry. No no. I just think that maybe you would talk some of the folks you know go to Cicero Indiana line one morning.

Yes I’m in. Don’t apologize. It was enlightening.

You’re rambling. That’s what we specialize on in this book lightning rambling.

I had a couple of buddies who lost no time once I touched on Oakland made their way as quick as possible to us. But here’s my question and I don’t know if that really took care of them much.

The only thing they could think of I don’t mean to take away from your rough book but since you are writing recently about rail travel in Vietnam I’m assuming that you’ve been there somewhat recently.

I was there in 1992. It’s very expensive to go and I don’t I don’t get to go as often as I would like.

Well I may not be but you may not be able to fully then my answer the question I have for you but it involves Robert McNamara. Do you have any personal feeling to your fellow veteran buddies that you can have any kind of son.

His book torn his book in his refusal to apologize on his reveals also donate the proceeds from this to any organizations. That’s my question.

I just hang up on this flight. That’s a great quote. I could do an hour on McNamara and I’ll try not to ramble in my answer.

I can’t speak for other veterans but the guys that I hang out with and writers and musicians and artists and businessmen and lawyers and you know just guys that do this and that kind of work could just happen to the veterans.

When Robert McNamara his book was published and he said publicly that he thought the war was a mistake. I was outraged. And he the whole book I haven’t read it and I probably don’t intend to read it. Life is too short for that kind of thing it’s not like I don’t have to do homework to have an opinion about Robert McNamara. Robert McNamara is one of the maybe six or eight or 10 or dozen people who actually is responsible for the war because

as the secretary of defense he had to sign his name to pieces of paper. And guys like Robert McNamara killed good friends of mine and shot up a whole bunch of others. He had to sign the papers that poor agent orange on the on Southeast Asia. He had to sign the papers that dropped more tons of bombs than were dropped in all of World War.

I think he’s a despicable man.

I think that the war and his his being party to it is the shame of his life. And I hope that he and I never meet face to face. I don’t know that I would go across the street to pour water on his heart if it was on fire. He’s one of the people in the government along with people like Kissinger and Clark Clifford and blah blah blah blah blah all that that whole list. Whose responsibility is it in writing and for

him 20 years later to come by and sort of drop this little you know sort of semi apology I think it’s the closest that my generation of men is going to get to an apology because he’s apologizing to the men who went and the men who didn’t go through that whole epoch of American history is is his baby and he’s gone.

He has a lot to answer for and I just don’t think he well he and I don’t drink in the same bar so I don’t I don’t think there’s a danger of you and I ever meeting but I don’t have a very high opinion of him. One of the things that I thought immediately when I heard of the book and and some of the statements that he made on the book tour and I hope he makes a million bucks and he chokes to death on it. Is that where did this man. He said that someone asked him why didn’t you say these things. In 1968 1967 and he said

an amazing thing.

He said it would have been disloyal to me disloyal of me to the government to disagree with the president and the first thing that popped you know the first thing I thought of was this is what the Nazis said in 1945 1946. Where was this man raised. Where did he get this morality that that he has to remain loyal to the president to the administration and not the people you know because we’re the ones he works for.

Where is his morality. Well. Don’t get me going on it. Maybe you could talk for just a minute or two about that. The book that I’ve mentioned the one that you’re working on about traveling in Vietnam.

Well I started going back to Vietnam in 1990 and I went back with a group of veteran writers the veterans the writers I went with some war poets journalists novel novelists and so forth. The poets got to write their poetry right then and there.

The magazine writers you know went on It was like three weeks. And the Vietnamese took us around everywhere.

It was delightful. I would go back to Vietnam at the drop of a hat. I love it there. The magazine writers got to write their articles which were published very shortly thereafter. The book writers are sort of stuck. I’m writing about train travel and so forth because it’s something I know about. I’m a train buff. Turns out that Vietnam has this funky little railroad is sort of this Mon PA hip pocket shade tree mechanic operation and I went back in 92 rode the trains talked to the train guys you know and you

get to you get to sit down and talk with someone about their work.

You know like Studs Terkel who invented this kind of writing. You know what’s the job what do you do. How does it work.

What did you do during the war where were you raised. You know what’s your education. What do you want to happen.

Are you making observations about how the Vietnamese culture deals with their children medical care how they farm how they live their lives there in Hanoi Hanoi is a beautiful very livable city.

There are cafes everywhere. It’s a very sort of art outdoor public life. These are sweet sweet people. I want to be able to talk about that and also the reverberations of the war.

What has happened in Vietnam since the lifting of the embargo two years ago and the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

All of those things you know kind of like Who are these guys you know rather than war stories like this is what I saw this is what I do. This is what I became. Now the story has become I mean the relationship between Vietnam and the United States. The story has become. Who are these guys and what can we learn from them. What is their strengths what is their story like that.

I’m sorry to say. We’re going to have to stop because the time is up. Well thank you very much. It’s my pleasure to talk with us and if you want to look for Larry Hanuman’s books they are close quarters Paco’s story and cooler by the lake.