The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien 1


“Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future.”

Tim O’Brien was a soldier in the Vietnam War. Drafted despite an acceptance in graduate school, he was reluctant to go and contemplated going to Canada to dodge his draft notice. The book is a series of essays exploring what he saw, did and felt during this period of his life. He admits taking liberties with some of the facts to create a story that captures the feeling he wants to convey.

I honestly don’t remember how I stumbled upon this book. There was a decent wait for it at the library and I borrowed it as an e-book. I thought it would focus more on what items people carried with them during war, but it was more about war’s long-term affect on people’s minds, bodies and souls.

The Things They Carried is a very heavy book. O’Brien describes when people in his unit die and a few of their kills. The most striking essay is when a soldier in their unit ends up drowning in a field that the local village uses as their “outhouse” area. The stories are haunting because that time of life seems to haunt the author. The book almost seems like a type of therapy for O’Brien.

I would recommend this book for older readers as it deals graphically with war and its toll on its participants. I found it hard to read in some sections. However, anyone who wants to better understand someone who served in Vietnam would find insight in this book.

But the book here (affiliate link).

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.