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 (3906 )
5 star
 (1866)
4 star
 (1219)
3 star
 (548)
2 star
 (174)
1 star
 (99)
Overall
4.1 (3591 )
5 star
 (1695)
4 star
 (1075)
3 star
 (534)
2 star
 (172)
1 star
 (115)
Story
4.5 (3612 )
5 star
 (2419)
4 star
 (825)
3 star
 (264)
2 star
 (66)
1 star
 (38)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Donna United States 12-30-13
    Donna United States 12-30-13 Member Since 2012

    JustMe

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Warning: Do not purchase"
    Would you try another book from Tim O'Brien and/or Bryan Cranston?

    Bryan Cranston would be yes. For Tim O'Brien, no.


    Has The Things They Carried turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes


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

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    The book includes a stray puppy being tied to a grenade and blown-up, and a baby water buffalo shot more than ten times not to kill it but to see it hurt. I wish someone would have warned me what I'd find in this book. Save your money, unless you enjoy reading about items like this. I stopped listening, and deleted immediately.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Dee Spellman Rogers, Ar United States 12-08-13
    Timothy Dee Spellman Rogers, Ar United States 12-08-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Disappointing"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you are looking for the stereotype of the Vietnam soldier who gets high, usurps authority and kills water buffalo this is the book for you. I would have just wished that by now someone would have written a novel instead of a list of "things that happened" while they were there. Struggled through it on every page.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Tim O'Brien again?

    Probable not.


    What didn’t you like about Bryan Cranston’s performance?

    regurgitation of the same Nam storied I have heard for decades.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Abraham Boston, MA 10-19-13
    James Abraham Boston, MA 10-19-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    138
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Good as Matterhorn -- But Which is Accurate?"

    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.

    8 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    terry 11-28-13
    terry 11-28-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    447
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too Dark and sinister"
    Would you try another book from Tim O'Brien and/or Bryan Cranston?

    No


    Would you ever listen to anything by Tim O'Brien again?

    No


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bryan Cranston?

    okay


    What character would you cut from The Things They Carried?

    Everyone


    Any additional comments?

    I'm a Viet Nam vet and was offended by it. It makes us all look like we were young idiots with no moral fiber whatsoever. Some of those things happened but they were not typical of all of us. I served for 30 years, retired a Col. and do not think this book is good literature.

    16 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Voorhees SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, US 11-03-13
    Scott Voorhees SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, US 11-03-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Skip this one"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book is billed as being stories about soldiers in Viet Nam and it did have some stories about soldiers In Viet Nam. But, there was far too much preaching and repeating that war is bad. One story was about someone telling a story. At one point the story teller is told to stop his personal commentary and just tell the story. Had the author taken his own advice it might have been a good book. Instead it is repetitive and boring and one of the most irritating books I have listened to. I could not finish listening to it.


    10 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loud41 09-16-15
    Loud41 09-16-15

    David

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Half-Crazed War Stories laced with Anti-American Views"

    If you are looking for a more personal look at the Vietnam War, or perhaps looking to learn a bit more about those who fought in that war, I would steer you elsewhere...

    Bryan Cranston reads this book absolutely spectacularly! I thoroughly enjoyed his performance!

    Some of the stories contained in this book are entertaining to listen to, and often fascinating or gripping. However, Tim O'Brien himself on numerous occasions destroys any thought of credibility to any of his stories. In fact, I found myself trying to figure out whether or not he was telling the truth or just making something up to get me to feel a certain way more than actually concentrating on the story. Many stories are repeated side by side, over and over. As the book progressed, I felt more and more like I was listening to a half crazed vet who had completely lost touch with reality. Tim O'Brien claimed to have been able to just slide easily back into civilian life. I unfortunately feel somewhat differently.

    Lastly, O'Brien is very bitter about the war. He hated it then, and still hated it when he wrote this book. If you share his opinion, then this might be a good read for you. If not, I again suggest reading something else. Especially at the end, O'Brien is very preachy about his anti-American views.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 01-21-14
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 01-21-14 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    322
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    230
    71
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    20
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a modern classic"

    It's been all over Audible for some time now: a great war story and narrated by Bryan Cranston! Let's get the obvious over with first: Cranston is incredible and you could buy this book on his involvement alone. That said, let's talk about the book, it's mostly good points and its few downsides.

    The Things They Carried is small stories, not very interconnected, from Vietnam. They are not in order and they do not connect at the end to tell some larger story. But they paint a wonderful mosaic of how soldiers come back from war traumatized and we can understand the mental plight of soldiers who were witness to horror. We'll look at stories of men drowning, firefights, trying to dodge the draft, and coming home from war and not being able to integrate into society again. These are nearly perfect moments in time and told with such precision and care that you'll be astounded. My favorite story was of a soldier coming home and driving around a lake, wondering if there is anyone he could tell his story to, the story of how he almost won the Medal of Valor.

    But the author doesn't know how to end the book and it slows down and then just stops. I wish there was more there, that there was a more impactful story to end on, but for me the least interesting moments of the book are at the end. Afterward is a short story separate from the book, read by the author. He is not the narrator that Cranston is, but do listen to this story, it is exceptional. If only it had been the end of the book...

    Do buy this book, it's not only good, I dare to say it's important.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald F. Romancik 12-04-13

    Ronaldo

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worst Vietnam book I ever read"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing.


    What didn’t you like about Bryan Cranston’s performance?

    Terrible


    Any additional comments?

    I am a Vietnam veteran and server with the 5th Special Forces in 1967-68. I also suffer from PTSD. I have read many book about Vietnam and I am in a couple of them.. This is by far the worse book I have listen to about Vietnam. It has no story, no point no beginning, no end.Tim O'brien rambles on through out the book over whelmed in self pity and endless depression. He keeps going over the same stories with wordy phrases that make no sense. The book is depressing from the beginning to the end. If you want to feel depress read it.

    20 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley M. Klopstock SACRAMENTO, CA, US 08-23-16
    Ashley M. Klopstock SACRAMENTO, CA, US 08-23-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Where Repetition Works"

    This was a great story, it was a story about reality, about how things happen and sometimes there is no moral or reason for them happening. The thing that was most interesting to me though was that the book was repetitive, but it was done with a purpose and surprisingly it worked well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharey 08-22-16
    Sharey 08-22-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    159
    66
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent!"

    I listened to this book straight through with just two breaks for lunch and dinner. The stories were interesting and narration excellent but most importantly the author strove to impart the individual and universal sorrow of war and how lasting its affect is on the survivors. I appreciated O'Brien's heartfelt words and sincere desire to bring a message forth from the ruins. War is devastating to all humanity, on both sides, and should be undertaken with great caution. His own narration at the end was especially moving. I was enriched by listening to this book in a very necessary way.

    0 of 0 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.