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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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  •  
    Mike Florence, Colorado, United States 04-01-15
    Mike Florence, Colorado, United States 04-01-15 Member Since 2010

    Mike Vendetti

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bryan Cranston Takes You There"

    Tim O'brien was one of the 1.6 million Americans who served in combat during the Vietnam war. That war was indeed a mixing pot of young Americans. Because of the draft 21 year old college grads like Tim served next to high school drop outs. The drop out like the grad carried home the memory, but unlikely will ever write a book. Tim Obrien, like Ambrose Bierce, "What I Saw at Shiloh", has superbly written of the temporary insanity that overtakes the minds of young soldiers as they attempt to deal with the madness of war.

    O'Brien conveys it for real, and the narrator Bryan Cranston, makes it real. I tend to be overly critical of an audiobook like this, because I was in the Infantry in Vietnam in 1965, and I am an audiobook narrator/publisher. O'Brien and Cranston nail it. Five stars all the way around.

    This audiobook reminded me of watching "Pvt Ryan" in a theater with surround sound; hearing the sizzle of a round passing over your head and turning around and looking into the eyes of a dead man. I remarked to my wife coming out of the theater, that that was about as close as a civilian will ever get to being in combat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 03-15-15
    Scott 03-15-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not What I expected"
    Would you try another book from Tim O'Brien and/or Bryan Cranston?

    Probably not


    What was most disappointing about Tim O'Brien’s story?

    A little to self absorbed


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I preferred the operational aspects


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Maybe too many drugs consumed by the writer during the experiences

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul S. 03-13-15
    Paul S. 03-13-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    13
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    "Not what I thought..."

    The book began as a moving narrative about a platoon, but quickly turned into an outlet for the author.

    It was interesting, but much more than a war story. It was not what I was expecting.

    Brian Cranston could not have been a better choice for reader. His voice added a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey 03-13-15
    Jeffrey 03-13-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
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    "Well narrated"

    I would have likely stopped listening of it weren't for Bryan Cranston. The book starts out well enough but the stories are the same as other books about Vietnam, Iraq, etc and as a veteran there wasn't anything special that kept my attention.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob Gray 03-10-15
    Rob Gray 03-10-15
    ratings
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    13
    4
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    Story
    "Never stop complaining about how your life sucks"

    Mr O'Brien goes on and on about how his experience was so awful and bemoans his decision making. How life would have been so different for him had he only made different choices. Well, Mr O'Brien, you've made your choices and you choose to look only at the bad that comes from them. I feel sorry for you and for your loved ones who have to live with such negativity.


    Signed
    Iraq War and Desert Storm vet who chooses to look at all of the great decisions I've made in my life and not dwell on the poor ones and the awful experiences I've endured

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    charles searles naples, fl United States 03-06-15
    charles searles naples, fl United States 03-06-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Insider's Look at Vietnam"

    Well written and a great read by Brian Cranston. Makes you realize what a horrible waste of lives and money.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Spring Valley, CA, United States 02-27-15
    Amazon Customer Spring Valley, CA, United States 02-27-15 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Haunting Portrait of War"

    First off, I want to say that Bryan Cranston's narration was spot on. As you would expect his rendition of the characters is one of the huge selling points for this title. Which, if a person is familiar with Tim O'Brien, is a gripping account of life as an ordinary soldier in Viet Nam. The book is composed of a series of short accounts focused on one of the soldiers O'Brien served with. Ted Lavender, Curt Lemon, and the others become very real characters, imbued with tragedy even when they survive the war. This is a short work that in an interesting way is not marred by the frequent repetitions. Finally, the final part is an extended narration by the author which focuses on the impact the war had on his life. This part relates his impressions of things when he returned to the country in the 1990s. Seeing places where he'd fought, and people whom he had fought against. I don't want to spoil things, so let me just say that if you want to gain a sense of how the war impacted Americans and you don't want the stereotypes and cliches this is a great start. And even if all you want is to hear how a great actor can enrich and not overwhelm the text, this is a great selection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LisaB2595 Katy, Texas 02-24-15
    LisaB2595 Katy, Texas 02-24-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    19
    3
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    "Engrossing."
    Would you listen to The Things They Carried again? Why?

    Yes, but not for a while. It's an emotional ride.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Things They Carried?

    SPOILERS:


    killing the baby buffalo.


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

    Rat.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Things They Carried and why?

    The main character.


    Any additional comments?

    Bryan Cranston does a wonderful job reading this book, and the author's note at the end is also very good. Be sure to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel 02-22-15
    Joel 02-22-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great read"

    A beautiful an honest glimpse into a part of history becoming more and more forgotten. I cherished the style, the prose, the structure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Us 5 Camp 02-15-15
    Us 5 Camp 02-15-15
    ratings
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    23
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    "understand a little better...."

    maybe this is the way to understand a little better, this most misunderstood of wars: through the stories, ramblings and aftereffects of the boots on the ground

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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