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The Things They Carried Audiobook

The Things They Carried

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, October - Bryan Cranston is turning in one of the great television performances as Walter White on the Emmy Award-winning Breaking Bad, so needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that he'd be narrating Tim O'Brien's classic The Things They Carried. I first experienced the book in high school, and to revisit it now with such a gifted performer is an absolute treat. Cranston fully inhabits O'Brien's collection of semi-autobiographical stories about the Vietnam War and brings to it a sense of experience and remembrance as though he were actually there. I've only heard a sample so far, but I'd already consider this one of the top audiobook performances of the year. —Chris, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

This modern classic and New York Times best seller was a finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award and has become a staple of American classrooms. Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried’s portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book’s hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.

The soldiers in this collection of stories carried M-16 rifles, M-60 machine guns, and M-79 grenade launchers. They carried plastic explosives, hand grenades, flak jackets, and landmines. But they also carried letters from home, illustrated Bibles, and pictures of their loved ones. Some of them carried extra food or comic books or drugs. Every man carried what he needed to survive, and those who did carried their shattering stories away from the jungle and back to a nation that would never understand.

This audiobook also includes an exclusive recording “The Vietnam in Me,” a recount of the author’s trip back to Vietnam in 1994, revisiting his experience there as a soldier 25 years before, read by Tim O’Brien himself.

The Things They Carried was produced by Audible Studios in partnership with Playtone, the celebrated film and television production company founded by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and producer of the award-winning series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, as well as the HBO movie Game Change.

For more from Audible and Playtone, click here.

©1990 Tim O'Brien (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Cranston may be the most charismatic embodiment of moral ambiguity we currently possess. There was always something comforting as well as menacing in Walter White's voice, and Cranston attacks O'Brien's sober, sinewy prose with slightly scary authority.... [I]f you were a binge-watcher of Breaking Bad it will be no big deal to spend six hours in his company here." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Structurally the novel gestures to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, while Ryan's sensitive observations on Irish life seem responsive to the work of his compatriot Patrick McCabe. That Ryan does not look out of place in such literary company is a measure of his achievement." (The Financial Times)

"The best of these stories--and none is written with less than the sharp edge of honed vision--are memory and prophecy. These tell us not where we were but where we are, and perhaps where we will be. . . . It is an ultimate, indelible image of war in our time, and in time to come." (Los Angeles Times)

"O'Brien's haunting collection of connected stories about the Vietnam War is more alive than ever in this narration. Bryan Cranston's resonant, sometimes formal, performance often leaves the listener reeling. Cranston's voice is deep and patient, laying back to let the characters' collective pain take the fore. Memorable scenes include a man's receipt of his draft notice in "On the Rainy River," battle scenes in "The Man I Killed," and aspects of the war's aftermath in "Speaking of Courage." In all the works, Cranston offers a measured, compassionate voice. O'Brien's stories emphasize the importance of telling the truth of war stories, and Cranston's respect for his intent is clear and comforting. At times, his sonorous tone is hypnotic, but this is more an asset than a liability. All the better to make the listener feel." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Christian Espinosa St Louis, MO 10-27-13
    Christian Espinosa St Louis, MO 10-27-13

    Life participant. I value experience over possessions. I love adventure and challenge. My next challenge is to climb the Seven Summits.

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    "Sad Ended - Left Wondering if Anything Can Compare"
    Any additional comments?

    The whole thing is simply awesome. I've never watched Breaking Bad, but I'm now a fan of Bryan Cranston. His delivery is great. I love the way he finds an individual voice for the characters. The ending, read by Tim O'Brien himself, was very moving. I found myself wishing it wasn't over. I sort of feel like "now what"? I hope to find something as great as this on audible.com....I'm hopeful, yet skeptic.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 10-21-13
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 10-21-13 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

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    "Raw and brilliant ... perfectly narrated"

    Before I can say anything about this book, I have to comment on the narration. It is so perfect that it becomes one with the book. It was startling at the end to actually hear the real Tim O'Brien. Cranston became him in the book.

    O'Brien's writing can be raw. It's apparent how deeply personal the Viet Nam war was for him - and I'm sure many others. Though perhaps not physically wounded, the emotional wounds are deep. I can't imagine how painful it's been for O'Brien to write about this time again and again. I admire his ability to be so honest about the emotional damage, the fear, and the heartbreak.

    It's probably because of that approach that I can even listen to this. When other books approach war from the events and atrocities, it's just too much. The way O'Brien writes, the horrid things that happen are described in a way that it helps me understand the emotional toll paid by a generation of young men.

    This is, without a question, one of the most important books about the Viet Nam war and its personal impact. Don't miss it.

    25 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arlene j Florida 10-20-13
    arlene j Florida 10-20-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Well Done"
    What did you love best about The Things They Carried?

    I was not looking for a war story about Vietnam when I purchased this audio book. Been there done that. I was looking for more Bryan Cranston after binge watching Breaking Bad and Malcolm In The Middle. I was not disappointed. The stories told in THE THINGS THEY CARRIED are wonderful. It is the most beautifully written book about the Vietnam era that I have ever experienced...it tells the story like I remember it. Well done Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Cranston.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Things They Carried?

    The story ON THE RAINY RIVER


    What about Bryan Cranston’s performance did you like?

    His clarity and enunciation and heartfelt presentation. I could tell he did this project because he loved the book.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Things They Carried and why?

    the narrator


    Any additional comments?

    It is a book I will listen to again and again...

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 12-04-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 12-04-14 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "Raw, Haunting, Ruthlessly Open Account"

    Vietnam described in ways you never expect . . . my husband (a retired SGM) and I listened to this on a road trip recently . . . at times we laughed, totally familiar with the military terms, at other times we were totally silent . . . no words . . . absolutely NO words to describe what we were feeling . . . this is not the patriotic, hero stories of comrades at war . . . it's the down in the crap (literally), sinking into despair, wondering what the hell you are there for, tale of soldiers trying to make it one day at a time in a war that nobody wanted to fight . . . it's truthful and hard to swallow . . . it's honest beyond anything I've ever heard on Vietnam . . . no matter what your politics, you need to hear it . . .

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-30-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-30-13 Member Since 2016

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "haunting"

    This book was first published in 1990 and was re-issued in 2013. In 1990 it won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Critics Circle Award, and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. The book is listed as fiction it is based on Tim O’Brien’s real life experience in the Vietnam War. O’Brian says writing as fiction gave him more leeway in character development and also in the story. The book’s opening with the title, “The things they carried” shifted from mundane to meaningful in telling what they carried for example: mosquito netting, machetes, pens, letter from a girl. By the end of the story you know the men, and have a good sense of what they are up against. The book also discusses O’Brien’s visit to Vietnam with his wife visiting the area he served in during the war. The book goes back and forth between the pass and the present time frame. Over all it is an interesting read. Bryan Cranston did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in the Vietnam War you should read this book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Houston, Texas, United States 11-26-13
    Sean Houston, Texas, United States 11-26-13 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Worm's eye view"

    A worm's eye view of a selected few vignettes of the author's life before and during his service in VietNam.

    The author is long-winded, repeats himself, tells stories out-of-order, says the same things over and over again, and weaves several threads of narrative in and around one another in a manner reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut. Some people may like that.

    But not me.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Abraham Boston, MA 10-19-13
    James Abraham Boston, MA 10-19-13 Member Since 2013
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    "A Good as Matterhorn -- But Which is Accurate?"

    I have noticed that O'Brien's soldiers do many things that, in Matterhorn, would get them killed. They put light colored objects in their helmet-bands, which the young Matterhorn lieutenant is warned against doing on his first night in the bush; they smoke cigarettes and weed in the bush on operations, which in Matterhorn "an enemy could smell for miles"; they wear machine gun ammo on bandoliers across their chests, while a Matterhorn sergeant warns troops leaving the base "to keep the ammo in the cans, so it won't fail when you need it."

    These seem like differences which can get you killed, so who is right? Both O'Brien and served in the bush in Vietnam, but it would seem that one of them was making a lot of mistakes.

    Great books, both, though. Great literature, not merely war literature.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
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    benjamin drescher 02-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    "First Audio Book"

    This was my first audiobook. Tim O'Brien's words and Bryan Cranston's voice combined, makes me hate reading paper books.
    The story is deep, makes you reflect on your life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kw 01-20-16
    kw 01-20-16
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    "Too Much"

    Thank you for your sacrifice. You carried way too much as a young man and you carry too much weight as a human being.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Roth Pacific Northwest 01-13-16
    K. Roth Pacific Northwest 01-13-16 Member Since 2015

    ladyroth

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    "fantastic book"

    This is a fantastic book that has great meaning.
    So much relevance, besides the simple items themselves, but the servicemen who used them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • john
    Bentham
    12/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What is a true war story?"

    What is a true war story? Can there be such a thing? Tim O'Brien ponders this and explains that there is not, at least not really. These tales and memories and anecdotes of his time in Vietnam all coalesce into a book with great gravity and poetry. War is awful and beautiful, boring and terrifying, and so intense that it overrules all else for the dead and the living alike. There a is an authentic and truthful power in the rumours and stories told, that was so strong it can't be described by me. And Bryan Cranston's reading is wonderful.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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