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)
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I read this book when it came out, and it blew me away. This audio version retains all of the power and increases in intensity with Bryan Cranston's excellent narration. The Vietnam War was the backdrop to my childhood and early adolescence. It was always there. It seemed a miracle when it finally ended. Tim O'Brien gives a straight-ahead, unsentimental and humane account of his experiences in the war. I don't think I've read anything that left me with such a clear sense of what it was like for the soldiers. The book is beautifully written, the narration is superb, and the audio version includes a fascinating hour-long epilogue, read by Tim O'Brien, which is mostly about his visit to Vietnam in 1994.
This audio version is a great way to re-read the book or experience it for the first time. Highly recommended.
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.
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 . . .
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 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...
The way Tim O'Brien wrote this story keeps you pulled in the entire time. Even if you want to stop this book and start another you can't, it will not leave your mind.
Every aspect of this story was enjoyable. The characters kept me entertained, the amazing stories, and especially the way the stories are told. I love how the book does not only tell a simple story, but gives a real in-depth feel for raw war and the reality of it.
I almost did not write a review on this book because I know that any words I write will not do this book justice. It is a book that must be read yourself.
This story will stick in your mind for a while after reading. It hurts my heart to know the burdens put on soldiers. I can't imagine going through anything like they have to endure.
I did not go to the war in Vietnam, having been rejected for health reasons, but I feel the pain of those who did. The way the soldiers returning were spat upon and otherwise mistreated, and the terrible way our government ignored their broken minds and bodies, was despicable.
This author was there and tells a story from a very caring and introspective mind.
Perfectly narrated, these moving stories are not easily forgotten. Listen and learn about the war and its history, told by those who lived it. Excellent all around for every American to learn more about your history.
I read this book 15 years ago and was excited to see it as a Daily Deal, since I remembered finding it to be very powerful but I didn't remember the details. Here's what I took away from it this time around:
*Bryan Cranston is a fantastic actor and narrator, and I think that he imparts a sincerity and bitterness that can make the experience of listening to this book even more compelling than it might otherwise be. Nevertheless, I wanted someone a little different for this book. Cranston comes off as experienced and sardonic, especially if one has seen him in Breaking Bad. However, much of the book details Tim O'Brien's experiences as a young, insecure recruit being exposed to the horrors of war for the first time, and I felt that someone who could have conveyed a little more innocence would have been more suitable
*This book is moving, troubling and compelling. The stories stick with you
*I found Tim O'Brien's Postscript about his trip to Vietnam with his much-younger girlfriend to be both interesting and aggravating. On the one hand, the way he talks about My Lai and how he personalizes the victims and their families is heartbreaking and really made me think deeply about war and the norms that we are taught about America and its role overseas. On the other hand,
Well written war stories, brought me back to the 60's and 70's, wrong time, wrong place and with wrong people, now US just normalized relationships with Vietnam. How about those who had been gone, perished in the jungles,
Like historical fiction, Christian fiction/romance, classics, children's/teen fiction, fantasy. Paranormal is okay. No witchcraft/vampires.
Someone who likes circular stories or smokes marijuana or went to Woodstock. I did not dislike it for its political views. I have no problem reading liberal ideas. But I think liberals would like it better than conservatives. And people who want to know a soldier's thoughts about Vietnam as opposed to mainly his experiences there.
His constant "true war stories are unbelievable" theme was disappointing. He tells the same story several ways. Then I'm left asking, "What is the truth?" and he asks, "What IS truth?" The books is just too philosophical to me. The narrator (not Bryan Cranston but the author) was unreliable. I wasn't able to finish the book because the author wouldn't just stick to the stories. He had to analyze the stories and change them then analyze them again then tell us maybe he just made them up. I can see why a professor would like this book. It's deep. Too deep for me, unfortunately. Here's a quote: "You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let's say, and afterward you ask, 'Is it true?' and if the answer matters, you've got your answer . . . Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth."
I liked the part where young Tim is considering being a draft dodger, and the older Tim looks back on that and thinks that going to war instead was the cowardly choice. My personal belief is a soldier is braver than a dodger, but it made me think.
How about my least favorite? I stopped listening after a man dies and his friend in grief begins torturing a baby water buffalo. I don't mind realism; I would have liked more of it, but I'd finally gotten to a story after listening to long rambling, and the story was disgusting. Tim doesn't ramble about it being disgusting either. He says, "We had witnessed something essential, something brand new and profound, a piece of the world so startling, there was not yet a name for it."
The narrator, Bryan Cranston, was perfect. He WAS Tim O'Brien.
I just want to say thank you to Tim O'Brien for going to war for his country, regardless if he was doing it to save himself and his family from embarrassment rather than from patriotism, regardless of whether the Vietnam War was pointless.
Report Inappropriate Content