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 (4176 )
5 star
 (1991)
4 star
 (1320)
3 star
 (580)
2 star
 (181)
1 star
 (104)
Overall
4.1 (3842 )
5 star
 (1809)
4 star
 (1158)
3 star
 (574)
2 star
 (178)
1 star
 (123)
Story
4.5 (3863 )
5 star
 (2599)
4 star
 (877)
3 star
 (278)
2 star
 (68)
1 star
 (41)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Lisa_Minneapolis 09-23-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gratuitous violence"
    What did you like best about The Things They Carried? What did you like least?

    Bryan Cranston is brilliant as the narrator of this book. It certainly seems to be a very detailed account of the daily life of infantrymen in Vietnam, however, I was greatly disturbed by portions of the book which seemed unnecessarily violent. In particular, there is a scene describing the horrendous torturing of a juvenile water buffalo at the hands of a frustrated American soldier. I was sickened by this part of the narrative and question why the author thought that such a passage was appropriate. It may be that events like this did occur; however, I hardly see the need to include endless details about such repugnant behavior when it adds nothing to the story.


    Would you recommend The Things They Carried to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would not. I think that there are many well-written novels, plays, etc. about the horrors of the Vietnam War which have considerably more literary value.


    Could you see The Things They Carried being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    A film based upon this book would not add anything to the existing body of fictional work about the Vietnam War. The films "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" have more than adequately depicted the horrors of the Vietnam War.


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie D Vallejo, CA 08-27-14
    Angie D Vallejo, CA 08-27-14 Member Since 2013

    Angela

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Leave the political narrative at the door"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Possibly, although with explanation that my political leanings don't necessarily align with the author's.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I would love to learn more about this era and the things we put our boys through. I would have bought this book for at least three people I know had it not been for some of the political interjections that I know they may take offense to on some levels. I powered through those sections and found the overall book highly fascinating and engaging.


    What about Bryan Cranston’s performance did you like?

    Yes, the vignette's were dreamlike and nightmarish. I enjoyed meeting the different characters and understanding their motivations behind their actions, even the most grotesque of their actions.


    If you could take any character from The Things They Carried out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Sometimes it was a little too Bryan Cranston... I enjoyed hearing the author's own voice at the end and then thinking back on some of the stories with the author's voice in mind. Hearing the author's voice gave the stories more credibility and emotional fragility than Cranston applied at times.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Bangkok, Thailand 04-29-14
    Paul Bangkok, Thailand 04-29-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    77
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Yuck"

    I was stricken with a case of literary seasickness in listening to this book. The author stitched together a bunch of stories in an incoherent way that left the pitch and roll of this disorganized work most difficult to understand. Worse still, some of the stories, particularly the implausible and belabored recount of a soldier who imported his girlfriend to the front lines, strained credulity beyond the breaking point. Narcissistic diversions into what a "real war story" is or should be was another distraction that did little to help this allegedly authentic personal memoir limp across the finish line.

    Save your money.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois 03-26-14
    Lois 03-26-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Written for a specific audience."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The book may have meaning for those men who served in Viet Nam and I am sure they can relate to the heart and intent of the story. For me there was way too much profanity (I should have known by the outline on the site) and way too much death. Not a book for me but I appreciate the men it discusses.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was wonderful


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlotta Bellinjgham, WA, United States 02-15-14
    Carlotta Bellinjgham, WA, United States 02-15-14 Member Since 2016

    Retired police detective; oenophile; golf and exercise addict; and quilter.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    187
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just a snippet of what I expected"
    What did you like best about The Things They Carried? What did you like least?

    It's a very important story - but it was too minimal. There was too much jumping around from one person to the next.


    What did you like best about this story?

    What they carried symbolizes important things that were left behind, undone, or to be looked forward to...


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelli REDDING, CA, United States 01-21-14
    Kelli REDDING, CA, United States 01-21-14 Member Since 2015

    spa wench

    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    44
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narrator is the strongest component of this title"

    Brian Cranston is superb. The book is a much better listen for his narration.

    The story itself is good, a heart-felt attempt by the author to reconcile the effect of the war on the rest of his life. I feel petty giving it anything less than a stellar review, because it was a horrible war, and horrible circumstances, and the author participated in it and lived to come home and try to move past it's effects. BUt 3 is the best I can do. To me it has the feel of several long newspaper or magazine articles bundled together to form a book. Also, the author has a habit of repeating dialog, verbatim, several times. At first I thought it was a plot device, and it was effective. But hen he used it in the next chapter, and again... it became a distraction. Plus, becasue it was repeated verbatim, 4 or 5 times i will forever remember "his jaw was in his throat. his upper lip and teeth were gone. his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star shaped hole ..." for the rest of MY life. Excellent descriptive abilities.

    Worth the listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron L 12-06-13
    Aaron L 12-06-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    76
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Repetition begets tedium"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The chapters not directly about the author were well written.


    What could Tim O'Brien have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    O'Brien should have hired an editor with the discipline to cut the repetitive material and improve the pacing of the book.


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

    Cranston's performance was excellent.


    Could you see The Things They Carried being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    The conceptual material is solid but it would need to be wholly rewritten.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arlene j Florida 10-20-13
    arlene j Florida 10-20-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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...

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sally Filler 09-15-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    97
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    110
    107
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't waste time or money"

    NOT A STORY!!!, just a bunch of fragmented snatches of memories. I feel for the writer's pain and all. I understand that he has suffered from the horrible things he has seen and done. GREAT to write it all down as a catharsis BUT don't try to feed it to me!
    Really I don't blame the writer..... I BLAME THE DANG AUDIBLE REVIEWS!!!! RIPPED OFF AGAIN!!!! I am getting really sick and tired of these "sales pitch" reviews.
    Do not waste your time

    6 of 9 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.