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.
"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)
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.
The story ON THE RAINY RIVER
His clarity and enunciation and heartfelt presentation. I could tell he did this project because he loved the book.
It is a book I will listen to again and again...
Say something about yourself!
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.
I'd heard that this book was important and even life-changing, and it proved true. I'm struggling right now with whether I should get the older ladies in my book club to read it too; but they're a bit squeamish and the book is--well, very true to the late 60s and Vietnam years. That was their time, but I think they missed it overall. Hmmmm, maybe that's the best reason to get us all to read it and see it again, from the true side.
I had heard so much about this book, but I have to say it wasn't what I expected. O'Brien is a great writer, but I found the book a bit disjointed. Parts of it were disturbing, and alot of the book is really quite sad, but it just wasn't what I was looking for. The narration, however, is spot on - great job by Cranston.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Listening to “The Things They Carried” reminds baby boomers of Edwin Starr’s 1969 anti-Vietnam song, “War”. The reminder is in its refrain, “What is it good for?–“Absolutely nothing.”
“The Things They Carried” reinforces history’s judgment of Vietnam. Vietnam was an un-winnable war; entered into by the United States with ignorance equal to benighted judgement in Iraq.
One of my two half-brothers served in the 101st airborne in Vietnam. In truth, we rarely saw each other but he never talked about his Vietnam’ experience. He died at 62 years of age. He was a financially successful business man but now I wonder how much of his life was affected by senseless war—I hear Edwin Starr’s refrain. “The Things They Carried” makes one worry about all war veterans and victims; on both sides of senseless war.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
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.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
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.
This is in the top ten. The stories circle back and are retold with new details, new perspectives, new perspectives that reflect on life, death, friends, relations, and memory. It is not just a Vietnam/war book. It is a book on life.
Tim O'Brian: both the fictional one and the real one.
Bryan Cranston has the perfect world weary voice that reflects the humanity of the primary character as well as being adaptive to perfectly bring the other characters to life. He is a great actor. I do hope he narrates more books. Wow. I would give him more than five stars if possible.
Everything. The end was so perfect. I didn't see it coming as the end, but it hit home.
The final hour is the author speaking. This is the most honest and raw reflection on life that only makes the novel more powerful and real. Everything reflected in the book about truth and story are manifested in Tim's brutal truth and reflection. I am going to listen to this book again.
Every ten years or so, I encounter a book that makes my short list of important literary finds. Now I listen to audible.com books and seldom snuggle up with paper and ink text especially when I knit or wait for the sandman to come late at night. If you want to behold an impressive artistic achievement, check out _The Things They Carried_ by Tim O'Brien.
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.
"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.
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