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The Things They Carried


The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of ...
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Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Created: 03/04/20

Replies: 18

Posted Mar. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3058

Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)


Posted Mar. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
normar

Join Date: 05/15/11

Posts: 36

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed the book. It was different from other books I have read


Posted Mar. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Tired Bookreader

Join Date: 08/19/11

Posts: 187

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Since finishing the book, I have thought of little else. Maybe because I had a brother in the war and I always wondered what it was like. I used to write to him and would like to think he carried one of my letters. The items carried were there to help cope with an insane situation. How else could they survive something a person can't even fathom.


Posted Mar. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 61

a book of revelations

I had read the first chapter of this book in a selection of short stories. It was okay, but a bit tedious to read. The book improved after that, until--WOW, I was completely hooked.

I was disappointed briefly when the author said the book was not completely true, although it was based on truth. And then I got over that, figuring the book was left in much better shape.

From then on, I was totally in the sway of the narrator. I learned so much, feeling such dismay at times, and relative joy here and there.

I am very grateful to have come across this valuable "memoir."


Posted Mar. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

Posts: 76

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I have read several disturbing books about Vietnam, notably for me Word of Honor by DeMille. They reinforce the concepts of how war is hell and how our young men are put in situations that are unwinable.
This book makes the war so real. It is obvious that the writer was there and that as a sensitive young man, he struggled with all the moral deliminas that other authors describe. But...oh the writing! This is so poignent and well expressed.


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
brendad

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I had tried to read this book several years ago when it first came out and couldn't get into it. This time I was absolutely absorbed by the writing and the stories. I think it was one of the best war stories of that era. It's interesting how you react to a book differently at different times in your life.


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 176

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I actually loved reading this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved the author's depiction of the things they carried - not only the actual things that they bodily carried, but the dreams and the memories and the emotions they carried; the fatigue, boredom, sorrow and fear they carried; all these things they carried with them.


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianneh

Join Date: 03/09/20

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I remember this period of time. I have read a little about it. I have with those, younger than myself, about that period, many of whom served. Never before have I have had a sense of the horrors of that time in our history. This author brought the time there alive for me. He brought the horror of being there right to me. I am just a bit from the ending so I will be back soon. He calls it fiction, every moment seemed real to me!


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyh

Join Date: 06/25/13

Posts: 327

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed it, but had a difficult time with it. I have intentionally not read any books about this war. It was so unpopular and I knew people that were in it. I thought about reading this one and did decide to go with it. I am glad I did. I did, however, have a hard time reading about these young boys and what they were going though. No one should have to do this in their youth.


Posted Mar. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bettiet

Join Date: 03/11/20

Posts: 7

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I first read this book sometime around 2000, give or take a few years. I remember being very moved. Mainly what I remember was that we read it in our book group for the annual dinner/discussion to which we invited our husbands, and their stories were moving also. Interestingly, although all the men were of draft age during this time, none of them had been drafted. Mainly it was the "luck of the draw" that their numbers had not been called. Rereading the book more recently I was struck by the fact that these young men depicted were really just boys, younger than my son is now. I remember when he was that age; sometimes he was a boy and sometimes he was a man. I was also struck this time around by the language used to describe the Vietnamese and I wondered if that derogatory language would have been used in a book today. I realize it is all part of what has been described earlier; soldiers need to feel that the enemy is evil in order to do the things that go into being a soldier.


Posted Mar. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BuffaloGirl

Join Date: 01/13/18

Posts: 150

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I have heard over the years that this book was the iconic expression of the American soldier’s experience in the Vietnam War. After reading it, I can understand that belief. Reading the book left me feeling flat and depressed from the loss of life and innocence and pride that these young men and our country suffered in a war that no one understood. Almost all of the stories are heartbreaking.


Posted Mar. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djn

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 93

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

This is a difficult to not feel depressed over the stories. But it was a book to read and gave understanding to the stories of war.


Posted Mar. 18, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bosuzoks

Join Date: 03/18/20

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought this book was well written and poignant - highly recommended. It's a bit disjointed but, in some cases, a call back to previous chapters and the dissonance between war and home were effective in evoking the confusion and difficulty in adjustment to war and after war.


Posted Mar. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KelHydra

Join Date: 08/05/19

Posts: 17

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I greatly enjoyed the book even though I don't usually go in for "war" books. But this was about so much more than war. I think it was a fantastic meditation on the humanity of soldiers, how even if they aren't entirely "truthful" (but, I'm of the opinion that truth is subjective, so...) there is still truth in experiences that are distilled into fictional stories. It was a more emotional book than I was expecting and really highlighted the emotional baggage of soldiers (yet another thing they carried) that seems sometimes to be swept aside in favor of stereotypical heroics and a tough-guy mentality. This was also the only fictional book I've read (so far) about the Vietnam war. Honestly, we didn't learn much about the war in school, so it made me go and research some of the particulars. I definitely learned things that I never would have considered to be the case before.


Posted Mar. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bobbie7

Join Date: 09/19/13

Posts: 61

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

The title of the book was so "right on". The author started out by listing physical items carried into war, and then I realized that the really important significance of the book is the emotional and psychological. things they carried with them and brought back with them. I was surprised at the dark humor sprinkled throughout, but I realized that to stay "sane", these brave men had to rationalize the horrors of the war. For a relatively short book it carried a very large impact.


Posted Mar. 20, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
hahiramom

Join Date: 01/16/14

Posts: 13

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

While I know this is a novel, I have to keep reminding myself of that because O'Brien's imagery and descriptions are all too real. Classmates, neighbors and relatives were all affected by this war. Some went, some fled and some were deferred. Of those that went they came home changed. Physically, mentally or not at all, our lives were changed. For those that came home they faced derision and sadly, rarely hailed. This should be required reading. It deserved the praise it's received.


Posted Mar. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joang

Join Date: 05/17/12

Posts: 86

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

They carried it all... the physical, the emotional. Powerful and poignant. Hard to believe that this is fiction. I felt that I knew each and every one of the men of alpha company, Jimmy, Bowker, Rat, Mitchell, Dobbins and Kiowa. How they felt, how they fought, how they cared, how they loved. I felt that I was right there with them in each chapter. To the author's credit he made me feel I was part of alpha company living each day with them. The intensity of the emotions this book evoked was surprising. Still cannot believe this is fiction!
I really liked this book. Having each chapter seemingly stand alone as a short story breaks up the intensity. Makes it more palatable. A good technique for this type of book.


Posted Mar. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianneh

Join Date: 03/09/20

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

It was a whole new way of thinking of the war. It was NOT about the war. It was IN the war. We all read about events that occurred. We were not there! This time we were. It was a whole new perspective of that entire time and, in many ways, far more meaningful..... and terrible.

One thing I would really like to know .... did any women actually follow any soldier over there? That did not seem as 'real' as the rest of the book.


Posted Apr. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 496

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Things They Carried? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I think this book is extremely successful in conveying the horrors of war, especially the Vietnam War (as it is called in the USA) or the American War, as it's called in Vietnam. The Vietnam War killed (counting MIA as killed) close to 60,000 American soldiers and approximately a quarter of a million South Vietnamese soldiers. There was still a draft, and few people alive today remember that since we are just a couple of years away from a half century of not having a military draft in the United States. It was one of the most turbulent times in American history: anti war protests, college students shot and killed on campus for protesting (listen to the song "Ohio" along with photos ( https://youtu.be/YX95QSKBODo ). Brave soldiers came home without any World War type celebratory greetings but rather felt blamed instead of honored. Many boys came home without arms or legs, and even those who appeared whole had to deal with what they saw over there and think about what was going to happen to South Vietnamese friends who were left behind . Overwhelming sadness and lost.


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