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The Things They Carried | [Tim O'Brien]

The Things They Carried

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.
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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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Performance
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  •  
    Justin Holland Dothan, AL United States 06-05-15
    Justin Holland Dothan, AL United States 06-05-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Powerful. Moving. Educational."

    I loved everything about this book. It is not a typical book about war. Very well written. Very powerful. Some great points to reflect on and discuss.

    The narration was A+, and the bonus content alone made this worth the purchase.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Douglasville, GA, United States 06-04-15
    Cheryl Douglasville, GA, United States 06-04-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A glimpse into some of the Vietnam soldiers"

    I liked the story even though it really does not have a plot. It is a lot about the emotions of a few soldiers and their personalities.

    The author, Tim O'Brien, definitely has literary skills. The book is written well, however, it was a little confusing sometimes not knowing if it was a true story or fictional, and that all of the stories were meant to be metaphors.

    I wish that the author had developed a plot in the story.

    Narrator, Bryan Cranston, was excellent

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 05-31-15
    Karen 05-31-15 Member Since 2015

    I have been a book junky my whole life. When I listened to my first audiobook, I fell instantly in love! I have quite eclectic tastes.

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    "Amazing!!!!!"

    This is the best war time novel that I have ever read/listened to. The story is incredible, I loved the characters, I couldn't stop listening to it. Brian Cranston's narration is perfection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marsha 05-30-15
    Marsha 05-30-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Soul Ripping"

    What is real, what is not? Some came home, but really didn't. Anger Anguish Madness. The war is still killing. Soul ripping.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Brooklyn, NY, United States 05-18-15
    Joseph Brooklyn, NY, United States 05-18-15 Member Since 2008
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    "Too moving. Too accurate, too compelling."

    Spot on relating of what our soldiers (kids) went through, did, and remember now. I couldn't let a vet read this for fear that any nightmares that might have dimmed would get awakened again.
    Bryan Cranston is brilliant. Everyone who is not a vet MUST read this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Chad 05-18-15
    Chad 05-18-15
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    "loved it"

    a truly defining story of the horror of Vietnam and if war . oddly personal

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Whalen Condry 05-17-15
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    "Great book!!"

    This book is a very good book. The reader plays each part to perfection. Recommended to everyone!! Fantastic book for all!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Mark 05-12-15
    Mark 05-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Brilliant powerful portrayal"

    Beautifully written and original narrative. Took me places in this account I never expected. Brilliantly woven and heartrending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    susan saltz 05-12-15
    susan saltz 05-12-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Amazing book, and a great reading by Cransto"

    Will keep you engaged and thinking the entire time. The rest of these words are to take up space because it wouldn't let me submit this otherwise

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Todd R Fredricks 05-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "One long slog into darkness"

    First of all Brian Cranstons narration is terrific. The story is poetic but it is the epitome of the most depressed narrative that one can imagine coming from a Vietnam Vet. There is nothing re demon here, no happy ending, just emotional pain of a man who stopped living at age 23 and remained mired in the thick muck of a rice paddy in Vietnam.

    Sadly his deceased buddy Kiowa, a devout Christian, should have been his guide. Kiowa dies in combat but lived fully while he was here. OBrien missed the message of hope that Kiowa lived and in the end gives the reader a sad tale of what happens to a greatly gifted wordsmith who chooses the path of bleak and purposeless nihilism over the road that leads from the harsh rocks of life to a bright and sunny shore.

    A great book to read if you want the psychology of those who never allowed themselves to leave Vietnam.

    0 of 0 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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