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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.

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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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  •  
    Rachel Riverdale Park, MD 08-02-16
    Rachel Riverdale Park, MD 08-02-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Sieb 07-11-16
    Denise Sieb 07-11-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Just not a good"
    Would you ever listen to anything by Tim O'Brien again?

    Most likely not


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

    Bryan is the only reason to finish this book.


    Any additional comments?

    I could have lived with the book, barely, but the "special" author written and read ending was just to much self serving whining.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Sever 05-16-16
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    "whiney"

    This book sounded like the author's catharsis. As a Vietnam veteran grunt myself, I'm unimpressed.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Waldowski 02-12-16 Member Since 2016
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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kw 01-20-16
    kw 01-20-16
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    "Too Much"

    Thank you for your sacrifice. You carried way too much as a young man and you carry too much weight as a human being.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Roth Pacific Northwest 01-13-16
    K. Roth Pacific Northwest 01-13-16 Member Since 2015

    ladyroth

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    "fantastic book"

    This is a fantastic book that has great meaning.
    So much relevance, besides the simple items themselves, but the servicemen who used them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    augustine 09-17-14
    augustine 09-17-14
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    "Curiously dishonest"

    I did not finish this book.

    I felt an overall dishonesty throughout the book, which the author himself points out. It reminded me of a comedian who laughs at his own jokes in an effort to get the audience to laugh with him. The difference is that Tim O'Brien wants you to cry with him.

    It simply did not work for me.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie D Vallejo, CA 08-27-14
    Angie D Vallejo, CA 08-27-14 Member Since 2013

    Angela

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    "Leave the political narrative at the door"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Possibly, although with explanation that my political leanings don't necessarily align with the author's.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I would love to learn more about this era and the things we put our boys through. I would have bought this book for at least three people I know had it not been for some of the political interjections that I know they may take offense to on some levels. I powered through those sections and found the overall book highly fascinating and engaging.


    What about Bryan Cranston’s performance did you like?

    Yes, the vignette's were dreamlike and nightmarish. I enjoyed meeting the different characters and understanding their motivations behind their actions, even the most grotesque of their actions.


    If you could take any character from The Things They Carried out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Sometimes it was a little too Bryan Cranston... I enjoyed hearing the author's own voice at the end and then thinking back on some of the stories with the author's voice in mind. Hearing the author's voice gave the stories more credibility and emotional fragility than Cranston applied at times.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois 03-26-14
    Lois 03-26-14
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    "Written for a specific audience."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The book may have meaning for those men who served in Viet Nam and I am sure they can relate to the heart and intent of the story. For me there was way too much profanity (I should have known by the outline on the site) and way too much death. Not a book for me but I appreciate the men it discusses.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was wonderful


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlotta Bellinjgham, WA, United States 02-15-14
    Carlotta Bellinjgham, WA, United States 02-15-14 Member Since 2016

    Retired police detective; oenophile; golf and exercise addict; and quilter.

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    "Just a snippet of what I expected"
    What did you like best about The Things They Carried? What did you like least?

    It's a very important story - but it was too minimal. There was too much jumping around from one person to the next.


    What did you like best about this story?

    What they carried symbolizes important things that were left behind, undone, or to be looked forward to...


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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