Between the Lines

Rated 5.00/5 based on 11 reviews
I wrote eighty letters to my family as an eighteen year old Marine serving in Vietnam during the war. I was reunited with these letters sixteen years later. When I sat and read them, I was blown away by what I had written, and what I had not...

It has taken twenty-eight years to finish this book which pained me so many times that often I could not keep at it...

Finally I have finished...

Peace More

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About Paul O'Connell

I was born and raised in Quincy, MA. At the age of 17 I was expelled from high school. I was a juvenile delinquent. I then had a brainstorm and was propelled by its winds in the direction of Parris Island to become a man. Just a few months after my 18th birthday, I was sent to Vietnam. I survived but brought home a head full of trauma. In 1990 I returned to Vietnam to see if I could find myself again. After my return, I began to write.

My desire is to share my journey with others through my writing, and to give life and honor to those I served with in Vietnam who no longer have a voice.

I have been married for more than 42 years. I have two children and two granddaughters.

I served the Quincy Fire Department for 32 years and retired in 2005 as the Chief of Department.


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Review by: robrooklyn on Sep. 07, 2015 : (no rating)
Paul O'Connell gives you two perspectives one as a young man trying to figure out the world he has entered and then that of man who in many ways wishes he could have spoken to that young man of long ago. The book is fast pace and engrossing it only took but two days to read it. Great work and one of the best reads I've picked up in a long time.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)

Review by: JustC142 on July 08, 2015 :
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)

Review by: JustC142 on July 08, 2015 : (no rating)
This recollection of one man's experience of Vietnam makes the war transparent for those of those of us who experience its generational effects without the benefit of conversation or education about it. Our text books and teachers reduced the war to a couple.of paragraphs with few words highlighted in bold ink or a few minutes of a history lecture, perhaps because we grew up to close to the war's aftermath. But Paul's book makes the war visible and clear. Nothing can make it understandable, but a shared experience can make it evident so that the rest of us can understand what happened to a generation of young men who became and should have become our uncles and fathers.
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)

Review by: joseph walters on Jan. 25, 2014 :
Review by: Joseph Walters on Jan.25 ,2014 Definitely a 5 star book.He took me back to Vietnam with Mike Company 3/5.Brutally honest.I never wanted to stop reading it but was forced to put it down in order to catch my breath and regain my composer .It helped me to understand my feelings while in Vietnam and later, when I came home. i am proud to call you a friend Thank you ,Paul
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)

Review by: Janice Urquhart on Oct. 23, 2013 :
I neglected to post a star rating on my review post so will do so now. Paul's book is completely deserving of the 5 stars that I'm allowed but if I could add more stars, there would be no end to all the stars that I would need to use.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)

Review by: Janice Urquhart on Oct. 22, 2013 : (no rating)
Between the Lines should be on everyone's "nightstand" i.e, computer, etc. It is gripping, compelling and completely relevant in 2013. Paul's story leaves me wanting more. You will, too. He is a superb writer with a keen ability to make you feel like you are walking right behind him. It is prizewinning material.

My father served in Vietnam with USAID for 3 years and my brother served in Vietnam as a Marine. Paul has recreated and penned chapter by chapter, detailed accounts of his life and those of his comrades beside him, and has left me even more grateful that my brother and father both returned home. And now, I can say, too, that I am grateful to God that Paul came home, as well. This story had to be told and he was the one to tell it.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)

Review by: Ranson Pelt on June 08, 2013 :
This is a great narative of a combat marine with the 3rd Bn 5th Marines in Vietnam. While I did not serve with Paul, I did serve with India and Mike Companies 3/5. I joined Mike Company after being wounded and medevaced with India just after Paul rotated stateside. We continued to hit the same aareas as described by Paul in his book. I found his descriptions very accurate and took me back in time just as if it were yesterday. Paul was a hell of a combat Marine, but had problems (as he describes) with his peacetime Marine Corps transistion. I highly recommend this book to any Vietnam enthusiasts and to anyone who served with 3/5.
Semper Fi
Ranson Pelt
Former Lt. USMC
(reviewed 16 days after purchase)

Review by: ed browder on May 15, 2013 :
I have written a review, previously of Paul's book. I failed however to rate the book with the star feature. Those folks, Marines and family who know me are aware that I am an abysmal failure with things "technological". to Paul I apologise for the slight. FIVE stars to you and kudos for a job well done, Marine!!
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)

Review by: John Barucci on May 14, 2013 :
Simply Triumphant! The author has masterfully juxtaposed his letters home, with present day introspection. From letter to letter, Paul leads us on a first person, riveting journey through his experiences. With brutal honesty, Paul pulls no punches - he exposes his soul, reveals himself naked, brought to the physical brink and over the psychological cliff. Through his literary prowess, we feel his mental anguish of a comrade fallen, we lie awake paranoid and in terror watching for the enemy, we feel the filth, mud, swelter and dust that is Vietnam, and we are faced with the questions of life and death. Rich in language, Paul recapitulates the timeline of events that makeup his tour of duty in Vietnam and beyond - and we live it right with him. Reflected upon through the lens of distance and sobriety, this is not just another Vietnam story, this is a story of personal Triumph and Victory; the enemy was more than a shadow in the jungle. This is a work of great importance to the legacy of our Veterans, our Country and of Our People. Truly, a must read!
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: ed browder on May 14, 2013 : (no rating)
I too have read Paul O'Connell's book, "Between the Lines". It was not an easy read for me, it took me about two weeks and some sleepless nights. I shared some of the events that Paul encountered but from the prospective as a 2nd Lt, platoon leader of 3rd platoon in Mike Company. So I get a small dose of the struggles that Paul encountered,over the
years, in parsing together his personal voyage in "his" coming of age story. And come of age he did, a number of times and ways.

Like many people Paul is hardest on himself BUT unlike most of us he is brutally honest in confronting his actions as a young Marine and some of the choices he made. He was so at odds when confronting "young" Paul, when he first read the letters he wrote,16 years before when his dad gave them to him, he did not read them all
, nor did he pick them back up, until quite some years later.

Ultimately, I feel, this is a story of redemption. It is Paul's coming to grips with choices he made as a young man and Marine, and not liking those choices, when he rediscovered them in reading his letters home, 16 years later. He has worked very hard to find out why he made those choices.He has "confronted his shadow within" as Dr. Carl Jung might have said. In doing so Paul was able to reconcile his young Marine with the man he has become today. A damn fine journey for one fine man, husband, father and friend.

Semper Fidelis, Paul! semper Fidelis
(reviewed 38 days after purchase)

Review by: stewart steele on April 12, 2013 :
Author, Paul O'Connell's honest and revealing personal story of his service as a teenage Marine in Vietnam and the life long impact that that experience has had for him is an incredible story of survival, fortitude and accomplishment. The many letters he wrote to his family during that time are presented exactly as written. They reveal the dangerous conditions and the emotional trauma he endured. O'Connell's review of his letters today and his "Between The Lines" sagacious explanations of them, presents a significantly unique perspective. I enjoyed reading every page.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)

Review by: Michael Conners on April 09, 2013 :
I have just completed reading Paul O'Connell's " Between the Lines". One of the most moving pieces of literature I've read in a while. Paul's frankness and brutal honesty are refreshing. An immature 18 year old is forced to grow up over night in an incredibly hostile environment. All this is portrayed in letters written home. It's amazing anybody came back from Vietnam Nam in one piece, mentally or physically. From letter to letter, I just couldn't put this book down. Well done, great summer read 5 stars!!!
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)

Review by: Goveia on April 04, 2013 :
What a great read. I have read a lot of military history and, this was outstanding. Taken from the author's own letters home and then reviewed by him later in life puts a unique perspective on his experience. Between The Lines gives us the life of a grunt on the front lines. The fear he endures daily becomes evident, and the reader gains an appreciation for PTSD and the demons our warriors must deal with on their return. The struggles of an 18 year old forced to grow up overnight, measure up to his own expectations and that of his peers and superiors was so obviously overwhelming. The combat scenes put the reader there. The analysis can help us put our own lives in perspective.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Thomas Tobin on April 04, 2013 :
As a Marine Vietnam vet, I found this book a nice change from the "John Wayne" type I often come across. I don't think I could write so honestly as the author has. I came away feeling like some of my own blanks have been filled in. Semper Fidelis!
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)

Review by: b seed on March 30, 2013 :
The author took me on a journey of raw emotion. As i read his story i could see in my own mind the pictures as he describes every detail. The authors willingness to share his honesty about his own personal struggles i found very moving to say the least.
I finished this book with a great respect for the author, and all vietnam vets.
I went searching for a feeling of what vietnam must have been like for my own father, this book was what i needed. The raw detail from fear to death, to being homesick, losing your friend's, bargaining with god. Wow.....
God bless each and everyone of our Vietnam veterans you deserve so much more than you came home to. And may we never forget the fallen.
This book is a must read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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