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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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  •  
    GDavidson 08-05-16
    GDavidson 08-05-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Loved it"

    From the moment I started reading this book I couldn't put it down, I like how it was written even the way it was narrated, I was just a baby back when the Vietnam War was going on, all I remember was the men I'd see at times locked inside themselves after they came home,
    I never really understood, in a small way be it lies or truth I came away with a little more understanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Scott 08-05-16
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    "The Stories They Told"

    Tim O'Brien's war stories are woven together to give a chilling but intensely American view of young men at war. Both brutal and beautiful, the tales blend death, humor, and survival but rarely triumph in the green forests and villages of Vietnam Nam. There are no pulled punches or attempts at political correctness. If they survive the seemingly chance onslaught of war, the vets come home damaged in spirit and changed forever. I was moved and hurtled back to a time when war was hell. Just like now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shayne 08-04-16
    Shayne 08-04-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A good collection of stories."

    I liked the stories in this book. To me it felt more like it was a collection of short stories. I found the story concepts interesting. After I realized this was fiction, I was able to better understand what the author was doing and explaining at the same time. I am curious to know what was real and fake now because it seemed very earnest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas 08-03-16
    Douglas 08-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "okay but a little of a letdown"

    the first half of the book was excellent however the last 30% or so of it to me seem to turn into more of a self-loathing, self pity and in the author's opinion what I took to mean as only cowards went to Vietnam. the last half of the book would be short periods of stories from Vietnam and then he would go off on Long tangent about his childhood and how he currently lives his life none of which had anything to do with Vietnam I started the book thinking that it was going to be about soldiers lives and experiences during the Vietnam war and not so much of the politics or after action reports for battles but how and what soldiers did felt while they were over there. the book wasn't bad the first half was I thought great but the end middle and ending of it was a letdown for me

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer streamwood 08-03-16
    Amazon Customer streamwood 08-03-16 Member Since 2012

    I am a wife of 30 years, mother of 4 wonderful grown children and a retired teacher....one of my new goals as I turn 50 this year is to become an author! I listen to one story on audible a week I am an addict!

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    "Sad Excuse for a Memoir"

    This book has little more than the whining complaints of an over-age liberal. Some parts were interesting, like when presenting stories of the individuals he served with. Much of it, though, involves the rantings of an America-hating liberal, who bemoans the fact that he didn't have the guts to run away to Canada.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Riverdale Park, MD 08-02-16
    Rachel Riverdale Park, MD 08-02-16 Member Since 2016
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    "so very hard to listen to this but I couldn't stop"
    Would you listen to The Things They Carried again? Why?

    parts of it but some parts are just too awful.


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

    The olive tree


    What about Bryan Cranston’s performance did you like?

    A voice I like and a familiar tone. Didn't use a stage whisper and didn't sound like he is speaking just to hear himself. Great real person reading a very difficult part of our lives.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    A couple of sad days as I listened then tried to push away memories of people gone now


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Lofstedt 08-01-16
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    "Talent abounding."

    Tim O'Brien is an artist with words. This is yet another story about the tormented minds of Vietnam vets but is more profound and eloquent than most. Bryan Cranston's performance is simply superb!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Les Raymond 07-26-16
    Les Raymond 07-26-16
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    "Couldn't make it past the foul language"

    I would love to have listened to this all the way through since I love War Stories. But there are so few accounts written of the war that keep the language fairly clean and unfortunately this was not one of them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Nelson Las Vegas, NV 06-14-16
    Alex Nelson Las Vegas, NV 06-14-16 Member Since 2016

    I am an Anthropologist (in training), Koreanist, and former EFL teacher who grew up on R. L. Stine and Stephan King with a fondness for SF.

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    "All War Novels should be Anti-War Novels"
    Where does The Things They Carried rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Despite my high rating its not one of my favorites by any means since it is well outside the genres I most enjoy (Non fiction, history and Sci-fi).I wouldn't count it among my favorites but that has less to do with the writing and the style than the subject matter.


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

    Honestly this is my first time reading a non-science fiction war novel and its not a genre that holds much interest for me. I was intrigued by the idea that the novel is read by Bryan Cranston and skeptical as to whether it would be well executed. I was very satisfied with the narration.


    Any additional comments?

    I think more gung-ho adolescent boys should be forced to read such anti-war (aka realistic) war novels to make them reflect on the human costs (on both sides) of any armed conflict.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianna 05-03-16
    Marianna 05-03-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Insightful"

    Historical and insightful. Difficult subject matter at times but with an important message. Listening to this book has given me a better understanding of what happened during the Vietnam war.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • john
    Bentham
    12/24/14
    Overall
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    "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

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