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The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
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The Things They Carried (1990)

by Tim O'Brien

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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10,527305401 (4.19)629
Recently added byarchangelsbooks, readbybrit, liannecollins, mchowell, dananas, Voeta, puckers, JadeMoroes, private library
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    andyg227: An incredible journey of soldiers fighting and dying in the Vietnam War.
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    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 629 mentions

English (303)  Spanish (2)  All languages (305)
Showing 1-5 of 303 (next | show all)
Tim O’Brien recounts his time in the Vietnam War through his fictional memoir, The Things They Carried. In a unique structure of storytelling, O’Brien takes his reader through an emotional journey of truth and making sense of the world after returning from Vietnam. He focuses not only on the physical weight each soldier carried during the war but the emotional and mental weight— which sometimes is heavier. Through chapter vignettes, O’Brien weaves loss, friendship, love, war, and peace into one of the most captivating war novels. ( )
  carrieludwig | Feb 18, 2019 |
I have read. I think, six O'Brien books and enjoyed them all, but THE THINGS THEY CARRIED is the one I keep coming back to. I first read these stories over 25 years ago and then re-read some of them a few times since. Found this copy in the local thrift store a couple months ago, and I couldn't bear to leave it there. Fifty cents. Have been dipping into it now for past few weeks, and remembering once again what a very personal, gut-wrenching thing it must have been for O'Brien to set these stories down, sometimes more than once, from different points of view, with slight or major changes variations, always contemplating the awful and mysterious finality of death, which he witnessed often and even caused himself during his time in the war.

The Broadway Books edition I have now is from 1998 and is fronted with eight solid pages of glowing praise in blurbs from all over this country. So what could I possibly add? What it all amounts to is a book in which a very talented writer, who also happens to be a tortured veteran of a misbegotten and pointless war, literally pours out his heart, his soul, and his guts. He remains, all these years later, haunted by what he saw and did in that war, unable to forget any of it. This is a beautiful book, richly deserving of its reputation as a classic of war lit. This time I'll hang on to it, because it is a book worth revisiting. My highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the Cold War memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA ( )
  TimBazzett | Jan 7, 2019 |
I was intrigued by a story that a friend read at a story-telling evening last fall. I hesitated to read the book because it was clear that it would be filled with darkness. Forget Apocalypse Now. This book, by Minnesota author Tim O'Brien, tells anguished stories about average Joes who survived the Vietnam War.

The book is an antidote to the sort of "Yeah, damn right we were heroes" narratives that seem to be published daily these days. There is heroism in this book, but no self-congratulatory heroes. There's also a lot of tragedy and waste. ( )
  vlodko62 | Dec 29, 2018 |
Heroic young men carry the emotional weight of their lives of war in Vietnam in a patchwork account of a modern journey into the heart of darkness.
  JRCornell | Dec 8, 2018 |
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is about soldiers in the Viet Nam War. It is not only about the tremendous weight of what they physically carried but it is also about the heaviness of the emotional burdens that the soldiers had to carry both during and for many years following the war. The book is about the value of human lives and it is about the devastation brought about by war. It also is about the coping mechanisms that soldiers need to endure the gruesomeness of everyday battles and the constant wariness required for their survival.

It is a powerful telling that is sometimes shocking and graphic, as is war. O’Brien delves deeply into the workings of the human psyche as he tells the story of a group of men who fight together in the jungles of Viet Nam and return home to a world that may or may not understand what they had experienced together there.

The book is certainly a meaningful read. But caution is advised to the reader to be aware of some of the rather graphic passages that make the situations and events realistic and credible.
( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 303 (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 (7 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767902890, Paperback)

"They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice.... Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to."

A finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Things They Carried marks a subtle but definitive line of demarcation between Tim O'Brien's earlier works about Vietnam, the memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone and the fictional Going After Cacciato, and this sly, almost hallucinatory book that is neither memoir nor novel nor collection of short stories but rather an artful combination of all three. Vietnam is still O'Brien's theme, but in this book he seems less interested in the war itself than in the myriad different perspectives from which he depicts it. Whereas Going After Cacciato played with reality, The Things They Carried plays with truth. The narrator of most of these stories is "Tim"; yet O'Brien freely admits that many of the events he chronicles in this collection never really happened. He never killed a man as "Tim" does in "The Man I Killed," and unlike Tim in "Ambush," he has no daughter named Kathleen. But just because a thing never happened doesn't make it any less true. In "On the Rainy River," the character Tim O'Brien responds to his draft notice by driving north, to the Canadian border where he spends six days in a deserted lodge in the company of an old man named Elroy while he wrestles with the choice between dodging the draft or going to war. The real Tim O'Brien never drove north, never found himself in a fishing boat 20 yards off the Canadian shore with a decision to make. The real Tim O'Brien quietly boarded the bus to Sioux Falls and was inducted into the United States Army. But the truth of "On the Rainy River" lies not in facts but in the genuineness of the experience it depicts: both Tims went to a war they didn't believe in; both considered themselves cowards for doing so. Every story in The Things They Carried speaks another truth that Tim O'Brien learned in Vietnam; it is this blurred line between truth and reality, fact and fiction, that makes his book unforgettable. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:48 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Contains a collection related fiction short stories with recurring characters, interwoven plot and themes told by a foot soldier retelling his experiences in the Vietnam War.

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