Before writing his award-winning Going After Cacciato, Tim O'Brien gave us this intensely personal account of his year as a foot soldier in Vietnam. The author takes us with him to experience combat from behind an infantryman's rifle, to walk the minefields of My Lai, to crawl into the ghostly tunnels, and to explore the ambiguities of manhood and morality in a war gone terribly wrong.
Beautifully written and searingly heartfelt, If I Die in a Combat Zone is a masterwork of its genre.
©1975 Tim O'Brien (P)2012 Tantor
"A personal document of aching clarity. . . . A beautiful, painful book." (New York Times Book Review)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
A solid Vietnam memoir from one of the best known writers seasoned by the Vietnam war. Things I liked: cover, Plato, Eric as mirror, dialogue, etc. Things I didn't: didn't seem to add much to the combat veteran memoir, repetitious, risk-free, light. Sure it was updated with the particular nuances of the Vietnam experience, but it was rather safe (a bizarre thing to say about a memoir of a combat vet).
Don't get me wrong. I liked it. I appreciated it, and will read/listen to more of Tim O'Brien. I just didn't think this was on par with Robert Graves, Michael Herr, Guy Sayer, Artyom Borovik, Bob Kotlowitz, etc. Good but just not great. I say this realizing I'm reading this 40+ years after it was first published. I allow that I may think the book is safe only because the road of Vietnam war memoirs was built with a helluva lot of O'Brien's own bricks.
This book just sucked. The story was terrible. I am a Viet Nam Vet. and it was very disappointing.
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