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Going After Cacciato | [Tim O'Brien]

Going After Cacciato

Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato, a classic novel of Vietnam, captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked that strangest of wars. In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris.
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Publisher's Summary

"To call Going After Cacciato a novel about war is like calling Moby-Dick a novel about whales."

So wrote The New York Times of Tim O'Brien's now classic novel of Vietnam. Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked this strangest of wars. In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris.

In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, Going After Cacciato stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately, it's about the forces of fear and heroism that do battle in the hearts of us all.

©1999 Tim O'Brien (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"As a fictional portrait of this war, Going After Cacciato is hard to fault, and will be hard to better." (John Updike, The New Yorker)

"Simply put, the best novel written about the war. I do not know... any writer, journalist, or novelist who does not concede that position to O'Brien's Going After Cacciato." (Miami Herald)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (61 )
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3.7 (51 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 05-16-14
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 05-16-14 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shadow Sculpture Built out of War's Debris"

    "These were hard lessons, true, but they were lessons of ignorance: ignorant men, trite truths. What remained was a simple event. The facts, the physical things. A war like any war. No new messages. Stories that began and ended without transition. No developing drama or tension or direction. No order."

    At the level of the grunt, the soldier, the dirt and the blood, who wouldn't want to run? Who wouldn't fantasize about just dropping everything and leaving the madness of war, the insanity of the Army, the brutality of killing and instead take an 8500+ mile trip to Gay Paree?

    It seems a rational choice: to choose freedom, happiness, liberty. To say cut it, cork it and just run. Leave the swamps of uncertainty, death, and fear behind you. Become a refugee from the carnage of Vietnam. Seek to relocate your tired ass to a place where dumb muthers aren't trying to shoot you. Find some piece of Earth where you aren't sleeping in holes, crawling into tunnels, worrying about whether the bullet that gets you will be audible. Get the hell out of Dodge.

    If that was the extent of this novel's vision, it would be a pretty damn good book, but O'Brien tweaks it. He doesn't go for the easy answers. For every tick he gives you a tock. He finds ambiguity everywhere, conflict over each hill. It isn't a simple moral point to stay or go, to fight or to run. War has its own reality. It will exhaust you and then follow up. This confrontation with fear, death, loyalty, morality, friendship, leading, following, is key. The key to this novel is conflict. The conflict is key.

    With lyrical beauty, flashbacks, and a magical realism that I've never experienced in a novel about the Vietnam War, O'Brien spins a story that is just that: a yarn, a spin, a giant fantasy race, a road movie, a Moby-Dick, a Danse Macabre, a metaphysical and very modern dance. It is a story of the good, the bad; those who run and those who follow. It is a literary shadow sculpture built out of the debris of war, the stories and cast-offs (the living and the dead).

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Kirkwood, CA, United States 11-21-12
    Carol Kirkwood, CA, United States 11-21-12 Member Since 2007

    us about yourself! I'm a retired English teacher and ardent reader(more because of physical disability than from job).

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    "Vietnam as Fiction"
    Would you listen to Going After Cacciato again? Why?

    Absolutely, because, despite its being a war story, the style is lyrical and the plot is intriguing..


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a clever twist on a basic situation--desertion. What happens if the pursuers desert too? Plus it distorts reality just enough to drape the story in a gauze of magic.


    What didn’t you like about Kevin T. Collins’s performance?

    His voice became so emotional that it was drippy.


    If you could take any character from Going After Cacciato out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I'd like to talk with Cacciato's Vietnamese girlfriend-wife. Maybe hearing her relaity would help to untangle the story of the actual desertion.


    Any additional comments?

    Tim O'Brien is a wonderful writer about war and soldiers trying to make sense of a particular morass.He adds magic to what must have been the grimest of realities.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dundas Malibu, CA, United States 10-08-12
    Dundas Malibu, CA, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Topnotch"

    Complex, richly imagined war story with real characters, action, wrestling with the moral issues of the Vietnam war. O'Brien has read Heller, Voltaire, Bierce ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" ), and maybe Chaucer, but Cacciato is original work.

    It's also one of those books that I believe is better heard than read, like Mrs. Dalloway.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Benoni, South Africa 06-18-12
    David Benoni, South Africa 06-18-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Dated"

    I love Vietnam books. I've been there, and I love Vietnam. I liked Apocalypse Now. This book, I just couldn't get in to.

    There may have been a time when introspection regarding Vietnam and the was was fresh and novel, but that time has passed and we live in a new and different world.

    I couldn't even finish listening to this, it was too drawn out and dreary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 04-20-12
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2011

    Blind Vietnam veteran. Antique weapons collector. Outdoor enthusiast. Florida State University graduate with Business major. Owner of home health agency. registered nurse.

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    "Implausible but Fun"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Going After Cacciato to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version of this book.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Tim O'Brien? Why or why not?

    I would try another book by Tim O'Brien because he paints a good verbal picture.


    What about Kevin T. Collins’s performance did you like?

    Collin's performance was very good. I particularly liked his ability to emphasize the dramatic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I want to listen to all books in one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    The depiction of Vietnam was very good. I know. I was there. The story is a stretch. Still, it is a good read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Fresno, CA, United States 12-22-11
    Michele Fresno, CA, United States 12-22-11 Member Since 2005

    Golfher

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    "Going To Sleep"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I thought this might be a riveting novel based upon early hype. It's not. I fell asleep so much I couldn't follow the thread. You HAVE to want to listen to this book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Tim O'Brien again?

    Not sure.


    What didn’t you like about Kevin T. Collins’s performance?

    He didn't have anything to work with and didn't do anything to help it.


    What character would you cut from Going After Cacciato?

    That isn't the point. The book is a flop about Vietnam and the veterans who served and fought there.


    Any additional comments?

    Pick another book.

    4 of 11 people found this review helpful
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