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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED BOOK

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The Things They Carried () is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Tim O'Brien, about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War. His third book about the war, it is based upon his experiences as a soldier in. The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa and comic books and all the things a medic must carry. The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories by Tim O'Brien that Read a Plot Overview of the entire book or a story by story Summary and Analysis.


The Things They Carried Book

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With 'The Things They Carried, Mr. O'Brien has written a vital, important book--a book that matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. The Things They Carried book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In , Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato - a novel a.

Tim O'Brien is with us here in Studio 3A. We want to hear from veterans today. RICH Caller: Yes, sir. I actually carry two things personally. I do have a P, and I also have what Air Force crew chiefs called a church key, which was your normal, everyday, metal can opener.

But the things that I don't personally carry, but I used to carry every day, were the coffins coming back from Vietnam, the nuclear warheads coming back out of I guess I can say it today, Subic Bay, because we used to catch them at Barbers Point Naval Air Station outside of Hickam Air Force Base.

And the nights that I spent at Dover during the first Gulf War with , to , pounds of JP4 on a C-5 and 30 to 40, pounds of small arms and rocket ammunitions or motors, and you would see the lightning and then all of a sudden Oh boy. It's hard to believe, isn't it, Rich? I was just talking with Tim O'Brien, just before we started on the show, that it was 20 years after his tour that he wrote this book. It's 20 years since then, but it's almost 20 years since the first Gulf War.

The first Gulf War. It's almost hard to believe. I mean, I went in as a kid. I entered the Air Force in , my senior year of high school, and then I went back, joined the Reserves and was in the Reserves for about 18 months, got called up, I believe it was in September of to go active duty during the first Gulf War. You, you back then you didn't think about it, but then that was when I was 17, 18, 19, Now you get up to 35, and you say, man, you know, I could be gone in a split second.

I mean, we did lose a bird at Dover, got hit with lightning, and it tore the wing off between Number 2 and Number 3 engine, you know? That is the reminder that is consistent in your book, not just the what you then considered an old man looking back you're a much older man now but the incredible youth of, well, you and the others in Alpha Company.

Yeah, at the time it seemed I was among people who were fairly mature. I mean, looking back on it, these were 19, 20, year-olds. People who at the time looked ancient to me turned out to be 27 or It's I think it's an important reminder for all of us that those who do our killing and our dying, they're not kids exactly, but they're not they're certainly not mature adults who have been schooled by life and what life can deliver to us.

And that is a lesson probably worth tucking away. Email from Charles in Portland, Oregon: I wasn't old enough to serve during the Vietnam War. My step-brother was. I made a knife sheath for him out of leather that held his fixed-blade knife, and it had another compartment for a pair of needle-nose pliers that he found useful for a variety of purposes. I could imagine how that could be useful. At the time I was a year-old kid and I picked up there and I've carried since an empathy for other people's suffering.

And now I currently work in the mental health field, and I want to thank Mr. O'Brien because when I was in college his book was one of the books that we studied. I'm delighted to hear that. I was talking with Neal before the show started and saying that books can sometimes have impacts on human lives that go way beyond what an author intends as the book is being written.

And you can help people in ways you would never expect. I'm delighted to hear it. Maybe it helped you a little. And Daniel, the things you still carry - I wonder, every day you hear about another ship being taken by pirates off the coast of Somalia or about the gun battles erupting between the government that holds three square blocks of downtown Mogadishu and the warlords. What do you think? Actually, you know, at the time I was too young to truly understand, but I think we as a nation and as a military service did a major disservice to the Somali people.

We left them in a vacuum that, you know, we were there to kind of take that vacuum away, but we left it almost in a worse condition than it was. Yes, hi. Hi, Mr. It's an extreme pleasure to speak with you today. And I think you're crucial to me having been a now-published author myself, if only for the reason that I wear my Red Sox hat with all my book covers because Mr. O'Brien does it, so I can do it too.

Of all the amazing things you've given me, probably the most crucial to my development as a person is you gave an arena for my father and I to talk, and I think I'm 35, and I think a lot of my generation, Vietnam is a lost topic for us because our fathers don't want to talk about what happened to them. The memories are too close and too horrific. And through "The Things They Carried," my dad and I were actually able to have conversations about his time in Vietnam, which ultimately led to me and he's very sick right now, actually, but it led to us being able to have conversations about each other.

And so it really became this place where him and I could go to, when we couldn't talk about anything. We'd talk about your work and use that as a vehicle to discuss war and what he had experienced but also who he was as a person. That's a great thing to hear. You know, the rewards of being a writer can include, you know, awards and money and that sort of thing, but a story like yours is the one that makes me remember being 24 years old and setting out on a career to be a writer.

I hear from disparate sources stories sort of like yours. I had a letter from a young woman, a year-old woman in Minneapolis, a story kind of like yours. My dad was quiet and there was trouble in the family, and my mom was trying to explain to me why she had never been able to fall in love with my father, who had been in Vietnam, at least not wholly in love. And in AP English class she encountered the book, gave it to her dad. He began talking.

The mother began talking. They went to counseling, and they're still together. They're not perfect, but they're happy. And a thing like that makes me want to cry because that is nudging up against my intent in writing that book, not to heal that family in particular but to have a book transcend bombs and bullets and in some way or another worm its way into the human spirit or heart.

So thanks. Let's see if we can go next to this is Brian, Brian calling us from Birmingham, Alabama. I just want to thank you for your book, because, yeah, I went through a couple combat situations, and I didn't know I was one of the, like these kids that are coming back now and the kids that came back from Vietnam. I was one of those kids, and I didn't know how to talk it out.

I didn't know how to get help unintelligible I was in my world all by myself, in this pretty much world of hell, you know, my brain. And I read your book. I read "Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul," little things like that. Yeah, I went in with an open mind, but, yeah, I kind of figure, okay, this is just another pile of garbage to just throw onto the stack, you know, and the self-help books. But it actually - it opened my eyes to make me realize that there are other guys out there like me.

And it made me wonder, well, you know, unintelligible counseling, you know? I signed up for VA medical benefits, stuff like that.

And it really helped me. And I just really want to say thank you, because, I mean, it's funny because my wife, you know, she's a couple of years younger than me, but, you know, I'm from the Northeast, she's from Alabama, but she never had anything to do with the military. And she has a father that was early 80s, you know, no combat or anything, so she really didn't know how to ask me questions. And it's been, you know - because of your book and other books like that, you know, and the counseling, it's actually made me be able to explain to her the stuff that I went through and, you know, be able just to talk about it instead of just keeping it in and let it become like a little bomb.

Brian, those of us on the radio side here, thank you for your judicious use of the word garbage. Oh, yes, no problem. Here's an email that we have, and this from Matt in Palmyra, Virginia.

Tim, I've read your books in reverse order. He doesn't talk about the experience at all. How do I approach the subject or should I leave his memories to himself? Probably a little of both. I think in the end that there are all kinds of reasons for silence.

It can go anywhere from trauma to simple politeness. War is a party pooper of a topic. You don't go to a cocktail party and say, hey, you want to hear about Nam or Iraq. Out of politeness one stays silent sometimes, at least in my own case, because I have no idea where to start, where to end, what to choose to talk about.

It's overwhelming, and therefore you go quiet out of a kind of nervous - the daunting task ahead of where do you begin and where do you end. So to encourage through books or movies is a starting place. And if a person wants to talk, that person will talk. I certainly don't think that enforced conversation is going to help anyone. But to open the door to conversation through art, not a terrible idea. We're talking with Tim O'Brien. His book, "The Things They Carried," came out 20 years ago.

I think it was 20 years ago yesterday. When they're good or if I'm told they're good I will.

'The Things They Carried,' 20 Years On

I saw a great film called "The Messenger. Man, I thought it was - not in a war, but knocking on doors. And I really was touched by it.

And I thought it was beautifully acted and had me in tears. Others bore me. It's good. It's interesting. I wonder also, the TV series, "The Pacific. You should give it - it's challenging in a sense - I've studied that particular battle there in Guadalcanal at the moment.

And I've been there, and it helps to have been there and seen these sights. But on the other hand, it so accurately transmits the absolute sense of confusion and chaos.

I'm amazed they took such risks with the lack of, you know, coherent narrative. That's good. I'm glad to hear they're doing it that way. I mean that's my recollection of war, is chaos and which - where am I and why am I here and where are they? Utter lost feeling, almost like being trapped in a bad dream. Let's see if we can get another caller in on this conversation. Let's go to Ed.

He can bring the dead back to life. And bring back the dreaming, too. O'Brien again shows his literary stuff. An acutely painful reading experience, this collection should be read as a book and not a mere collection of stories. Not since Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has the American soldier been portrayed with such poignance and sincerity.

You'll rarely read anything as real as this.

Louis Post-Dispatch "Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried carries not only the soldiers' intangible burdens-grief, terror, love, longing--but also the weight of memory, the terrible gravity of guilt. It carries them, though, with a lovely, stirring grace, because it is as much about the redemptive power of stories as it is about Vietnam. The prose ranges from staccato soldierly thoughts to raw depictions of violent death to intense personal ruminations by the author that don't appear to be fictional at all.

Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Vietnam experience. Richly wrought and filled with war's paradoxes, The Things They Carried will reward a second, or even a third, reading. His ambitious, modernistic fable, Going After Cacciato, raised the American war novel to new artistic realms.

The Things They Carried is also astonishing-in a whole new way.

NEA Big Read

In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien expertly fires off tracer rounds, illuminating the art of war in all its horrible and fascinating complexity, detailing the mad and the mundane. O'Brien is a superb prose stylist, perhaps the best among Vietnam War novelists. The imaginative retelling of the war is just as real as the war itself, maybe more so, and experiencing these narratives can be powerfully cathartic for writer and reader alike.

The writing is as clear as one of his northern Minnesota lakes. The Things They Carried charts out a lot of emotional territory, gripping the reader from beginning to end.

This is one of those books you should read. It is also one of those books you'll be glad you did. This book--and these lives--will live for a long time. And plays. And books. O'Brien's vision is unique. All of us, by holding O'Brien's stories in our hands, can approach Vietnam and truth. His prose is simply magnificent. Go out and get this book and read it. Read it slowly, and let O'Brien's masterful storytelling and his eloquent philosophizing about the nature of war wash over you.

The Things They Carried is a major work of literary imagination. The Things They Carried is an accomplished, gentle, lovely book. Beautifully honest. Now to mark the 20th anniversary, a new hardcover edition is out. To read a selection about the acidic boredom of war, you can go to our Web site at npr. Tim O'Brien is with us here in Studio 3A.

We want to hear from veterans today. And let's go next to Rich, and Rich is with us from Sunman in Indiana. I actually carry two things personally. I do have a P, and I also have what Air Force crew chiefs called a church key, which was your normal, everyday, metal can opener. But the things that I don't personally carry, but I used to carry every day, were the coffins coming back from Vietnam, the nuclear warheads coming back out of I guess I can say it today, Subic Bay, because we used to catch them at Barbers Point Naval Air Station outside of Hickam Air Force Base.

And the nights that I spent at Dover during the first Gulf War with , to , pounds of JP4 on a C-5 and 30 to 40, pounds of small arms and rocket ammunitions or motors, and you would see the lightning and then all of a sudden JP4 is jet fuel, by the way.

RICH: You can't refuel anymore, you know? It's hard to believe, isn't it, Rich? I was just talking with Tim O'Brien, just before we started on the show, that it was 20 years after his tour that he wrote this book. It's 20 years since then, but it's almost 20 years since the first Gulf War.

It's almost hard to believe. I mean, I went in as a kid. I entered the Air Force in , my senior year of high school, and then I went back, joined the Reserves and was in the Reserves for about 18 months, got called up, I believe it was in September of to go active duty during the first Gulf War. You, you back then you didn't think about it, but then that was when I was 17, 18, 19, Now you get up to 35, and you say, man, you know, I could be gone in a split second.

I mean, we did lose a bird at Dover, got hit with lightning, and it tore the wing off between Number 2 and Number 3 engine, you know? That is the reminder that is consistent in your book, not just the what you then considered an old man looking back you're a much older man now but the incredible youth of, well, you and the others in Alpha Company. I mean, looking back on it, these were 19, 20, year-olds. People who at the time looked ancient to me turned out to be 27 or It's I think it's an important reminder for all of us that those who do our killing and our dying, they're not kids exactly, but they're not they're certainly not mature adults who have been schooled by life and what life can deliver to us.

And that is a lesson probably worth tucking away. My step-brother was. I made a knife sheath for him out of leather that held his fixed-blade knife, and it had another compartment for a pair of needle-nose pliers that he found useful for a variety of purposes. I could imagine how that could be useful. Let's see if we can go next to this is Daniel, Daniel with us from Greenville in Tennessee. At the time I was a year-old kid and I picked up there and I've carried since an empathy for other people's suffering.

You are here

And now I currently work in the mental health field, and I want to thank Mr. O'Brien because when I was in college his book was one of the books that we studied. I was talking with Neal before the show started and saying that books can sometimes have impacts on human lives that go way beyond what an author intends as the book is being written.

And you can help people in ways you would never expect. I'm delighted to hear it. Maybe it helped you a little. CONAN: And Daniel, the things you still carry - I wonder, every day you hear about another ship being taken by pirates off the coast of Somalia or about the gun battles erupting between the government that holds three square blocks of downtown Mogadishu and the warlords.

What do you think? DANIEL: Actually, you know, at the time I was too young to truly understand, but I think we as a nation and as a military service did a major disservice to the Somali people. We left them in a vacuum that, you know, we were there to kind of take that vacuum away, but we left it almost in a worse condition than it was. Hi, Mr. It's an extreme pleasure to speak with you today. I actually was first introduced to the "The Things They Carried" in Dewitt Henry's ph class at Emerson, and I always have three copies of your book: one that I keep completely clean, one that I use for notes as an English teacher, and one that I kind of use for notes as a writer and a learner.

And I think you're crucial to me having been a now-published author myself, if only for the reason that I wear my Red Sox hat with all my book covers because Mr. O'Brien does it, so I can do it too.

CHRIS: Of all the amazing things you've given me, probably the most crucial to my development as a person is you gave an arena for my father and I to talk, and I think I'm 35, and I think a lot of my generation, Vietnam is a lost topic for us because our fathers don't want to talk about what happened to them. The memories are too close and too horrific. And through "The Things They Carried," my dad and I were actually able to have conversations about his time in Vietnam, which ultimately led to me and he's very sick right now, actually, but it led to us being able to have conversations about each other.

And so it really became this place where him and I could go to, when we couldn't talk about anything. We'd talk about your work and use that as a vehicle to discuss war and what he had experienced but also who he was as a person. You know, the rewards of being a writer can include, you know, awards and money and that sort of thing, but a story like yours is the one that makes me remember being 24 years old and setting out on a career to be a writer. I hear from disparate sources stories sort of like yours.

I had a letter from a young woman, a year-old woman in Minneapolis, a story kind of like yours. My dad was quiet and there was trouble in the family, and my mom was trying to explain to me why she had never been able to fall in love with my father, who had been in Vietnam, at least not wholly in love. And in AP English class she encountered the book, gave it to her dad. He began talking.

The mother began talking.At the end of "On the Rainy River," the narrator says, "I was a coward.

Can you talk about why you began there seemingly in the world of information? It's hard to believe, isn't it, Rich? Here's an email that we have, and this from Matt in Palmyra, Virginia. Dobbins agrees. What is the single most important message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?

Without having some experience, it just, they either didn't want to hear it or they couldn't relate to it. Then O'Brien got his draft notice.