The novel traces the life of Jack Moran from a Boston Irish ghetto, to the military, a post-retirement job; and resident of a home for elderly persons, where he passes on. Jack has a secret of which he is saddened. It happened in Vietnam when he accidentally shot and killed a Vietnamese family. The novel begins with a part discussion of the incident and concludes with details of the full incident. Throughout the book, Jack tells of many experiences, some humorous and some tragic.