- Title: The Things They Carried
- Author: Tim O’Brien
- Series: None
- Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story
- Publishing Date: March 28th, 1990
- Publishing Co.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Length: 233 pages
- Format: Kindle, Audiobook, MP3 CD, Paperback, Hardback
- Acquired: Bought a used paperback at a Used Book Sale
- Amazon Link: The Things They Carried
A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.
Final Judgment: 5 Stars out of 5
Throughout my academic career, I have read snippets of this book. A chapter here, a few paragraphs there. Normally, it was an activity set by one of my English or Writing classes in high school and college. And although I enjoyed O’Brien’s writing and could feel his pain tugging on my heartstrings, I have never had the opportunity–or courage–to read the entire book. I decided to change that this summer. I ended up reading this entire book in not only one day, but one sitting.
In our current world, we often forget how bad it can be. We are comfortable and lazy. We have all of the information that we could ever want at the tip of our fingers, ready to yield to us instantaneously. Our loved ones are a second away, even if their physical bodies span hundreds of thousands of miles from us. The biggest decision I have to make in a day is whether to re-watch Game of Thrones or Friends. I go to work in the morning, and I come home at night, safe and sound, ready to forget the trials of the day and relax with my family in my nice air-conditioned house. War is never on my mind. Blood and death do not haunt me.
Reading this novel brought home the atrocities of war. They had always been so removed from my own life that I couldn’t even fathom them. Now, I can. I can better understand the effects that such actions have on human beings, and how our world suffers from them. O’Brien is sure not to sugarcoat his experiences, and this is where the beauty–and horror–of his writing comes from. We readers are forced to experience what he went through in the Vietnam war. We have to live through it, just as if we were knee deep in the shit field with him.
This novel encouraged me to gain a new perspective on not only my own, current life, but on war in general and the lives of those who have already served in war(s). I have grown because of this experience, and I urge anyone and everyone to do the same.