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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

4.2 (5124 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bailey 04-27-17
    Bailey 04-27-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
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    2
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    "Bailey Books"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes it was a Fresca and personal view point of a terrible war


    What did you like best about this story?

    The details of the everyday was what I took from this book from the wierd "greenis" to to the dentist in the field and the nights sleeping in a shit field.


    Did Bryan Cranston do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    This was his most outstanding writing his depiction of his peers and his love or hate of them


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Gaskin 04-25-17
    P. Gaskin 04-25-17 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    "Incredible!!"

    This book should be required reading in high school. It opened my eyes in a way other books about Vietnam didn't. Mr. O'Brien's writing style and his command of words makes this well worth the time. Bryan Cranston does a great job at narrating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginny 04-25-17
    Ginny 04-25-17 Member Since 2016
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    5
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    "Honest and brutal"

    Fantastic narration to a brutally honest take on the Vietnam experience. The epilogue, narrated by Tim O'Brien, provides a poigant update, bringing Vietnam and those who lived it into the modern daylight.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Kleinman 04-01-17 Member Since 2004
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    "Moving, brutal, real"

    Could not get you closer to the experience and feeling of the Vietnam War, from the perspective of a US ground soldier. Read by a very good actor.

    Intense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie 03-22-17
    Katie 03-22-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Timeless"
    Any additional comments?

    Hadn't read this book in over 10 years. I can recall not really "getting it" when I was younger since it was required reading. I enjoyed listening to it and now understand why it was required, made me want to revisit old reading lists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick J. Lynch 03-19-17 Member Since 2015

    Pat the reader

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    "Jane Fonda like anti-American storyline"

    The story was interesting for the first few minutes while the writer described his fear and almost becoming a draft dodger, but quickly turned into a bad fantasy with obvious made up quotes and misrepresenting people. John Kerry would be proud. This book stunk almost as bad as the person who wrote it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    COWGIRL37 03-09-17
    COWGIRL37 03-09-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Not quite what i expected."

    This book isn't a normal war experience story. Its very disjointed. I didnt care for it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Filatoff 03-07-17
    N. Filatoff 03-07-17 Member Since 2016

    sheba_denial

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    "Excellent "

    The narrator read it perfectly, pitch, tone, inflection, and animation with each character. Book easily sucked me into his thoughts, feels and experiences. Will likely listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CaraN Maryland, United States 02-21-17
    CaraN Maryland, United States 02-21-17 Member Since 2016

    Carolee

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    "Fascinating Memoir"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. To anyone who survived the Vietnam War, or any war, or has loved someone who did. It offers an unique perspective of the horrors and beauties (friendships, awareness of the gift of life, learning, etc.) of serving in a foreign war. O'Brien as a warfighter and writer has a lovely, honest, heartbreaking, vivid way of capturing his experiences.


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

    Since it focuses on O'Brien's wartime experience, probably any wartime memorial. However, each person's perspective and way with words shifts it.


    Have you listened to any of Bryan Cranston’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't, but he's a fantastic actor and narrator. He did a fantastic job on this one.


    If you could rename The Things They Carried, what would you call it?

    I would definitely not rename it. I love how that phrase unifies the stories and weaves through the theme of physical an mental carrying. It's fantastic.


    Any additional comments?

    This story shows the perspective of someone who is sensitive and strong, analytical and aware of his own humanity. It's a wonderful memoir and rather brave.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Edmond, OK, United States 02-16-17
    Ed Edmond, OK, United States 02-16-17 Member Since 2012
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    "What war is really like. Cranston is AWESOME!"

    Bryan Cranston should read all audiobooks; his voice is the best. This book presents war as like most other human endeavors: messy, disorganized, occasionally terrifying and deadly. Heroism and service exist, but so does inhumanity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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