We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Things They Carried Audiobook

The Things They Carried

Regular Price:$19.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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

4.2 (4180 )
5 star
 (1993)
4 star
 (1320)
3 star
 (582)
2 star
 (181)
1 star
 (104)
Overall
4.1 (3846 )
5 star
 (1810)
4 star
 (1159)
3 star
 (576)
2 star
 (178)
1 star
 (123)
Story
4.5 (3867 )
5 star
 (2602)
4 star
 (877)
3 star
 (279)
2 star
 (68)
1 star
 (41)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1685
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    514
    513
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    99
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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 . . .

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Sever 05-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "whiney"

    This book sounded like the author's catharsis. As a Vietnam veteran grunt myself, I'm unimpressed.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zsolt 10-02-15
    Zsolt 10-02-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointed"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People who can endure a fictional (sometimes fantastical) story in a historically valid setting.


    Has The Things They Carried turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, because in a way "Killer Angels" is fiction as well, but did a fantastic job.


    What about Bryan Cranston’s performance did you like?

    Great voice, good smooth reading.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Things They Carried?

    The scene of the girl who visits the remote medical base.


    Any additional comments?

    It was just not for me. It's possible I need my stories to be closer to non-fiction.

    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!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    72
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    199
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Joplin, Missouri 03-08-16
    Andy Joplin, Missouri 03-08-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Marvel of storytelling? I do not see it."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    More organized storytelling.


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

    No.


    Which character – as performed by Bryan Cranston – was your favorite?

    I did not have a favorite.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, Brian Cranston.


    Any additional comments?

    Listening to this story felt like I was listening to my crazy, senile uncles war stories. This was mostly represented in the repetition and poor organization.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 03-11-14
    Ian C Robertson South Australia, Australia 03-11-14 Member Since 2010

    Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    617
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    158
    146
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    36
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Carried by Cranston"

    The huge positive about this title is Bryan Cranston. It is hard to conceive of a better reading than his. It captured the people, the place and the time. Of course, he had material to work with, but my gut feel was that he put a lot more on the paddock than the personell he had at his disposal. It is like a great coach raising an average team to another level. I felt this with sufficient conviction that I borrowed the paperback (telling that I didn't buy it, I think) and read it. I read it reasonably quickly, although I think I glossed some of it because it was familiar and just plain not as gripping as Cranston's performance. I think this is rare. I've read good books that are read well and it enhances the book, but it started out good. Sure it got better, but it didn't go from a 3 to a 4 star STORY; overall, maybe, but not the story.
    So, talking about the story; it was on the good side of ok. A safe 3. I found the "story is not true" part a bit hard to follow, but I'm guessing it was a literary device to convey the blurred line between fact and reality, fear and courage. If not, then I'm one of those people the author says "just don't get it".
    I also got the impression that some of the Chapters had been published before as short stories. Sometimes (rarely) the names didn't co-incide and it appeared to be that names had been changed to protect identities at one point in time. This was confirmed by the extra part read by the author.
    Turning to that extra part, I have to say that it was very disturbing. The apparently tenous and precarious line that he walks in his life was painful to listen to and in stark contrast to Cranston's assured voice (as the author's voice in the book, proper). In some ways this extra hour is the highlight of the title. In other ways I wish I'd never heard it.
    This is a hard title to review. Worth the listen for many reasons, most of them due to Cranston's narration or the contrast between it and the author's real one.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley M. Klopstock SACRAMENTO, CA, US 08-23-16
    Ashley M. Klopstock SACRAMENTO, CA, US 08-23-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Where Repetition Works"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel M Cohen 08-18-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb and Harrowing"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kym 08-17-16
    Kym 08-17-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thank goodness for Audible"

    Thank goodness for Bryan Cranston's narration. I would never have finished this book if the author had narrated more than the last "bonus" chapter!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ep163 08-15-16
    Ep163 08-15-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very moving!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • 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

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.