I started working hard to get into university late in high school. I was pretty scattered and always had trouble sitting still long enough to study and wasn't sure I could handle college. But, I started hearing more about Vietnam. I didn't understand why we were there. The music of my generation was very much anti-war and I started hearing from two cousins who were serving in Vietnam. As they passed through on leave, I heard some talk, but was even more chilled by the silence at times. I decided that I had to go to university so I could at least get a deferment. When I turned 18, I got my draft number and it was low. In my first year of university, the draft was abolished. This book brought back those memories of whispered stories and added more. I am not anti - war, but war is a step that requires serious consideration not only about when to enter, but how to end it. This book underscores that. It shows the human side of war, as well as the inhuman side. It is thoughtful, open, and moving. I recommend it highly.
This was a great story, it was a story about reality, about how things happen and sometimes there is no moral or reason for them happening. The thing that was most interesting to me though was that the book was repetitive, but it was done with a purpose and surprisingly it worked well.
This is a tour de force. O'Brien's storytelling is visceral but human, relaying events as they were experienced, full of rush and stillness, horror and beauty. Cranston's narration has the perfect balance of gravity and what I can only describe as fatalist levity, allowing atrocity its due weight but carrying on nevertheless. The effect is to pull you inexorably into these stories, the experience of which you will not soon forget. Strongly recommend.
Incredible stories, most of which are not only unbelievable, but are actually encouraged not to be believed. I love the author's dedication to absolute subjectivity, even to the point of recognizing the validity of fabrication in order to tell a 'truer' war story. Similarly, the out-of-order timeline creates an eerie tone, where people who were brutally killed in one chapter come back in the next to crack jokes and divulge secrets- it certainly feels like reliving someone's traumatic memories rather than being there, and this works very well for the overall piece. Cranston is excellent as narrator, as one would expect. Love his accents. [AUDIBLE]
I'm sure nothing can make us completely understand what it was like to go through the things these men experienced in Vietnam, but this book really moved me. In Audible, Bryan Cranston is the perfect voice to tell the story.
This started out great but for me the narrative quickly spiraled into too many direction and the overall arc became confusing and disjointed. It was partially saved by the strong performance of the narrator.
The Things They Carried is technically a novel, but it's really more of a fictionalized memoir, in which author Tim O'Brien creates a fictitious Alpha Company very much like the Alpha Company he served in, and a fictitious author named Tim O'Brien, who twenty years later is a writer writing about Viet Nam.
Now considered one of the "definitive" Viet Nam war novels, this book did not have the effect on me that it might on someone of O'Brien's generation. I was a child when the Viet Nam war ended, barely old enough to register that a war over there was anything of significance. I lost no family members in Viet Nam; I have no close friends who served there. By the time I came of age, Viet Nam preoccupied the media on which I grew up, but it was a foreign place and a foreign experience.
Tim O'Brien's semi-autobiographical novel is full of anecdotes, small stories, and harrowing episodes, but it's war on a small scale. Some of his buddies die, and others go nuts, but most just try to struggle their way through their tour and survive. They see action but not a lot of epic battles, just the constant threat of being shot at in jungles and drawing lots to see who will crawl into a Viet Cong tunnel with a flashlight in one hand and a combat knife in their teeth.
There is not much humor, but you wouldn't expect a Viet Nam novel to be funny, would you? (M*A*S*H*, famously, was really "about" Viet Nam but since it was still too recent and raw, they had to set it back in the Korean War instead.)
It gives some insight into what Viet Nam was like on the ground, but now, going on five decades later, Viet Nam has been explored and trodden and, if not exorcised from our national psyche, made bearable and confrontable again. And the Vietnamese, desperate to get in on the global market and its bounty of modern technology and foreign currency, no longer hold a grudge against us. They run tours through villages and war memorials. They greet American vets coming back to confront the place they once shed blood in almost like returning alumni.
As a wargamer, I have an academic interest in war. My particular area of interest is World War II, a war so long ago now that there are an ever-dwindling number of men and women who remember it first-hand, and which has faded into the fog of history and national mythology. Viet Nam, I think, is getting there. You can find Viet Nam wargames now, a thing that might upset living Nam vets but which would probably have been unthinkable in the years immediately after the war ended. Listening to Tim O'Brien talk about his ("his") war experiences did not sound very different to me than similar books narrated by World War II vets - equally horrible but equally distant, even though technically Viet Nam is within my living memory.
I appreciated this book, but I'm in that middle generation, too young to have had the real Viet Nam leave a mark on me, too old to find much here I haven't heard before.
The afterword by the author was a bonus in the audiobook, but probably what I found most profound of any of his stories was his meditation on why he went to Viet Nam. When his draft number came up, like many men of that era he contemplated the way he might get out of going, and even set out on that fabled trek to Canada. The story of his abortive flight, and his decision to return home and shoulder his responsibilities - literally - may ring more true for many of his generation than the ones who did end up dodging the draft, or who volunteered, or who were traumatized or killed. He went to Viet Nam because he couldn't stand the thought of letting down his family, his nation, of being seen as a coward. So ironically, as he puts it, he went to Viet Nam because he was a coward.
I spent 1970 in Vietnam in an infantry platoon, mostly in the jungle. We were among the first American troops to enter Cambodia when Nixon invaded that country. I'm finding it very frustrating listening to The Things They Carried. Most of the stories are not believable and certainly are not consistent with my experience. An infantry grunt somehow manages to have his 17 year old girlfriend from Cleveland Heights come to Nam and spend weeks with him on a firebase? Really!? That could never happen in anything that I experienced in the Army or in Vietnam. And, then she, in about 10 days, becomes this ghostly apparition going out on night patrols with Green Berets and shortly thereafter decides to go off and live alone in the jungles of Vietnam? I saw and experienced some horrifying things in Nam, but most of what I'm reading in this book just has very little resemblance to the realty of what the Vietnam war was for me. Maybe that is only a problem for me and not other listeners, but I cannot recommend this book.
parts of it but some parts are just too awful.
The olive tree
A voice I like and a familiar tone. Didn't use a stage whisper and didn't sound like he is speaking just to hear himself. Great real person reading a very difficult part of our lives.
A couple of sad days as I listened then tried to push away memories of people gone now