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The Things They Carried (1990)

by Tim O'Brien

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,100344387 (4.19)671
This depicts the men of Alpha Company. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have.… (more)
Recently added byKarenRennich, kat51987, mfrank13, kittenelephant, Chinesa72, private library, nkonin, glshields, Bridouble6, FusionLF
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 80
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (chrisharpe)
  2. 31
    The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam by Bao Ninh (ateolf, chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: A similar novel, just as powerful - from the North Vietnamese perspective...
  3. 10
    Beaufort by Ron Leshem (SqueakyChu)
  4. 10
    Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (chrisharpe)
  5. 00
    What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (TooBusyReading)
  6. 00
    When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace by Le Ly Hayslip (crislee123)
  7. 00
    Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Wallace Terry (crislee123)
  8. 00
    The Five O'Clock Follies: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway? by Theasa Tuohy (Preatarius)
  9. 00
    Out of Mesopotamia by Salar Abdoh (susanbooks)
  10. 22
    Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (andyg227, chrisharpe)
    andyg227: An incredible journey of soldiers fighting and dying in the Vietnam War.
  11. 11
    The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (ateolf)
  12. 00
    A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 00
    Adjusting Sights by Haim Sabato (SqueakyChu)
  14. 00
    Loon by Jack McLean (SqueakyChu)
  15. 39
    The Iliad by Homer (jrgoetziii)
    jrgoetziii: Because The Iliad is a classic war story and The Things They Carried is not, but took a number of passages almost directly from The Iliad (one of these is the catalog in the first book, but there are many others, too). The Iliad covers significantly more range and depth, and its themes are timeless.… (more)
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» See also 671 mentions

English (341)  Spanish (2)  All languages (343)
Showing 1-5 of 341 (next | show all)
I still must approach this book with care. I am not generally a fan of war fiction, but this book goes so far beyond any and all expectations I had. It made me cry. A lot. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
This piece of (non-)fiction is a truly incredible and moving account of the War in Vietnam... It sounds strange to say it, but I'm looking forward to rereading this harrowing story. ( )
1 vote francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
This story follows the experiences of the author, Tim O' Brien and his time serving in the Vietnam War as part of the 23rd Infantry Division. The book is comprised of a series of short stories that follow how O'Brien and his comrades coped with the war around them through stories of love, the importance of keepsakes from families, and bonding with your comrades. This book is primarily recommended for high school students, though 8th graders might be able to read it, as the motifs present can help these students understand first hand accounts of what is was like to serve during this chaotic period in American history. ( )
  amassa1994 | Apr 25, 2021 |
The writing was beautiful, and I loved the motif of storytelling. ( )
  Abiquail | Apr 24, 2021 |
A powerful look at the Vietnam War through one mans eyes. While it is listed as fiction I cant help but believe that many of the stories are true with the names changed to protect the innocent. It is a compelling read especially if you know someone who went to war. ( )
  foof2you | Apr 12, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 341 (next | show all)
"As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, O’Brien’s powerful depictions are as real today as ever."
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tim O'Brienprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cranston, BryanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prate, Jean-YvesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This book is essentially different from any other that has been published concerning the 'late war' or any of its incidents. Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest.
-- John Ransom's Andersonville Diary
Dedication
This book is lovingly dedicated to the men of Alpha Company, and in particular to Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Henry Dobbins, and Kiowa.
First words
First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They werre not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack.
Quotations
It was my view then, and still is, that you don't make war without knowing why.

I was a coward. I went to the war.
Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin's real fresh and original.
"Well, right now," she said, "I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like . . . I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading."
I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth. Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I'm left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.

Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other eye was a star-shaped hole. I killed him.

What stories can do, I guess, is make things present.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is a collection of short stories, one of which is titled The Things They Carried. Do not combine this collection with that individual story.
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This depicts the men of Alpha Company. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have.

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