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The Things They Carried Audiobook

The Things They Carried

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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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  •  
    Roberto Flores Jackson, Mi USA 02-26-16
    Roberto Flores Jackson, Mi USA 02-26-16 Member Since 2015

    BeanHill

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    "Great book, even for a Gen X'r"

    incredible book!
    I picked it because I love Brian Cranston, but the sorties are all so touching.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Waldowski 02-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    2
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    "spectacular style of sharing this story"
    What did you love best about The Things They Carried?

    I loved this read. Narrator was spot on perfect. Descriptions drew pictures, emotion and a good frame around each scenario. Oh boy what an ordeal. I believe every American should hear or read this. Returning to the site was a separate ordeal and just as enticing. From his heart to mine is how I felt. Not a spewing of war but situations of war within relationships made or almost made in a short time. My hats off to Tim for the nerve to dredge it ALL UP for us.


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

    The pig. The man showing his scares upon his return. The conversations or repetitions of some comrads after seeing something ugly.


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

    All equal


    Any additional comments?

    I'm sharing this with everyone. Cranston was PERFECT.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leland 01-27-16
    Leland 01-27-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Cried many times. +1"

    This book is deep in many ways, if you are looking for a book about the psychology of those on the ground in Vietnam this is a must buy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caligulove 01-24-16
    Caligulove 01-24-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A Must Read"
    If you could sum up The Things They Carried in three words, what would they be?

    Best War Novel


    What other book might you compare The Things They Carried to and why?

    All Quiet on the Western Front


    What does Bryan Cranston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Bryan Cranston adds a fantastic, believable narration to this contemporary classic. The difference I see is that instead of reading someone's journal or diary entries- the actual person has chosen to sit down with you for awhile and tell you everything about their time in Vietnam. Cranston's narration makes version a joy for newcomers and repeat listeners alike.


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

    Tim O'Brien, or probably Kiowa.


    Any additional comments?

    My favorite section; "In a true war story, if there's a moral at all, it's like the thread that makes the cloth. You can't tease it out. You can't extract the meaning without unraveling the deeper meaning. And in the end, really, there's nothing much to say about a true war story, except maybe "Oh." True war stories do not generalize. They do not indulge in abstraction or analysis. For example: 'War is Hell' As a moral declaration the old truism seems perfectly true, and yet because it abstracts, because it generalizes, I can't believe it with my stomach. Nothing turns inside. It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah 01-03-16
    Leah 01-03-16

    chicagomom

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    "Wow."

    Great reading. Excellent story. Moving. Poetic. One of the best books out there. I'll never be able to serve in the military and I'm grateful for Tim OBriens honest account. I know more now. It's a moving moving book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 12-23-15
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 12-23-15 Member Since 2016

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More Than I Expected"

    I thought this book would be a mildly interesting recounting about the objects carried by American soldiers (alive and dead) during the Vietnam War. It was more than I expected. It did include the objects soldiers carried, but the book was much more about the emotional baggage that soldiers carried before, during, and after the fighting. This was not a great book, the prose are just passable, the structure is hit and miss, the characters are fleeting, but the emotional content is worth the time. It explores soldiers and war from a unique and interesting perspective. I did not find the writing unpatriotic or even particularly anti-war. The narration was good, but not great.

    Overall, this was well worth the time.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Bagley 11-09-15
    Ron Bagley 11-09-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great story"

    I wish that Brian Cranston could do every book I listen to, just got lost in the story as he was telling it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George J. Nagel 11-08-15
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    "Cranston does an amazing job with great stories"

    My least favorite section of this book was the author-narrated memoir at the end. In large part, because of the persuasive tone that Cranston established in his reading.
    The title section may be the strongest, but the stories are all connected, and build off each other, united by Cranston's voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Miller 10-31-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Felt like a creative writing seminar"
    What would have made The Things They Carried better?

    Frankly, I didn't like the writing style. I guess I was expecting a more literary Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (an amazing book and performance). This story gave me zero connection with the characters. If I hadn't been caught on a road trip without something else downloaded, I never would have finished the book.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Tim O'Brien? Why or why not?

    Doubtful.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The concept of a Bryan Cranston-read story probably was why I bought the book. His voice wasn't fascinating and had no variance. I guess I prefer performers like Bronson Pinchot.

    The more I think about it, I'm amazed Playtone was associated with this. Band of Brothers is the best series I've ever watched. This book and performance don't rate in the same headline as that show.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The addendum with a recording from the author about his return to Vietnam felt more genuine.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sjouke 09-20-15
    sjouke 09-20-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Heavy going, but a must read"
    Any additional comments?

    The opening chapter is easily one of the best I've read. The stories are deep and moving, though some are quite heavy and maybe not recommended for the light hearted. The ending is a little drawn out, and I know some that were left confused and a little irritated by a seeming turnabout. This book is nevertheless a must read for everyone, giving a very brutal interpretation on war that is seldom covered in this manner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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