1. Take a poll in your classroom as to which students are for and which are against the war in Iraq. Then choose three students from each side and hold a panel discussion about the success or failure of this war. Ask them to do research, coming prepared with statistics and historical backgrounds going back to the beginning of the war. Have topics prepared so you can lead the discussion and allow time for the remaining students in the audience to ask questions.
2. How do the characters Nguyen Hao and Trung Than, two Vietnamese men, compare? What do they have in common? How are they different? Which one do you think is more honorable? Why? Did they get what they deserved in the end?
3. What is the story behind Jimmy Storm? Was he a good man, or was he just a brutal thug? What drove him, in the end, to trek through the jungles in Thailand in search of the Colonel? What do you think about the way he died? Why did he choose that death?
4. Why do you think Skip turned to gunrunning after his uncle died when this seems so contrary to what he stood for before? Did he have any other choice? If you were the author, would you have changed Skip’s fate?
5. What was the role that Kathy Jones played in the novel? How did she change? What was the effect she had on Skip?
6. The author gives no clear reason for Father Thomas Carigan’s death. He was the priest in the Philippines that the German killed with a blow dart. What would you guess was the reason Carigan had to die? Was it necessary?
7. Rick Voss was a rather sinister character. Who do you think killed him, and why was he killed?
8. Why was there an attempt to kill Trung? Wasn’t he going to help the U.S. forces? Why do you think Hao set him up?
9. What is your evaluation of Colonel Sands? Was he a true U.S. patriot, or was he a power-hungry egomaniac? Do you think that by the end of the novel, the Colonel was dead?
10. What was behind Skip’s actions? Was he loyal to his uncle? Was he loyal to his government? He says that his uncle’s spirit entered him. What did he mean by that? How was he like his uncle?