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am 31. Juli 2000
This book is priceless. I waited three years to find the time to properly read this book. The wait was worth it.
I'm 24. I missed Vietnam. All my life I've had a strange fascination with the conflict in Vietnam. I look back on my parents' generation and struggle to figure out exactly what moved them so tremendously to oppose this conflict. What was going on over there? Why were we there? Who was there? What was it really that was so horrific? Why did so many soldiers come back emotionally crippled?
Tim O'Brien has answered many of my questions. War, particularly the "war" in Vietnam, strips a man down to his basic instincts. In this collection of remembrences, O'Brien not only examines what became of men's ideals, beliefs, and reasons for action, but also makes sense of why. He doesn't explain this flat out, rather, he allows the reader to discover how boys become men of war. As the reader follows a soldiers story she can understand how his mindset came to be by the decisions he makes. O'Brien's style is to show, not tell. Through these anecdotes, the reader can see what happens to boys in a war in a jungle that turns them into animals. It is almost a real life "Lord of the Flies" or "Heart of Darkness". The most traumatic part of all this is that once they have become a new breed of human by surviving on their terms, they return and must be readmitted to society on its terms.
The actual subject matter aside, O'Brien raises the level of this work by treating it also as an exercise in exquisite writing. Based on his storytelling abilities alone, this book could serve as a model in creative writing. While at first, there may seem to be a random relation of the stories in their order, but the emotion of each story, along with the differing tone and style, is part of a larger mood that O'Brien is setting. As the stories shift from reflective to frustrated to eerie calm to tortured, the reader can better feel the impact of this collection.
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but if you want to have a keyhole through which you can peer to get a glimpse of a soldier in Vietnam, this is it.
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am 9. Mai 2004
Vietnam has never be that close as in Tom O'Brien's book "The things they carried". In short stories the author tells the things which are carried by the soldiers fighting in Vietnam. They do not only carry their weapons and rucksacks, but also memories and stories which are to be told. And those stories go deep into the reader's mind and leave a mark. As a reader you are suddenly one of them and you fight with them, share their memories, cry with them, think you go nuts like them and try not to forget about what you're fighting for.
O'Brien is a great writer. He knows how to tell different stories without getting monotone and boring. He makes war as alive and deadly as it has been in Vietnam.
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am 4. November 1999
In Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, he presents a unique view of the Vietnam War. Experiences seen in the eyes of a soldier touch the reader on a more personal level. O'Brien uses exceptional detail to portray events in their actuality. Tim O'Brien's attentiveness to detail and his passion for the Vietnam War topic both contribute to the successfulness of his novel. O'Brien covers a wide variety of topics and situations throughout his novel. He covers all the aspects of war from things the soldiers carried to crushes that soldiers had on people back home. By writing about the little things of a soldier's personal life, he was able to convey a realistic, more personalized image of the war life to his readers. It seems important to O'Brien to present the truth and actual emotions felt during the war. Presenting anything but perfection would not be doing our veterans justice. O'Brien makes it obvious that he completely honors and respects the Vietnam War veterans. Accounts of a soldier's personal life are evident throughout the novel. O'Brien uses these personal accounts not only to present an accurate portrayal of war life, but also to show the diversity of the American soldiers that fought with dignity for our country. It is true that these personal recollections can all be either saddening, inspiring, or mind-boggling. Whichever the case, each individual story has a personal significance to every person who reads it. I would recommend this novel to any person who seeks a different version of the Vietnam War. Not only does it present historical facts, but it also gives the reader a perspective from the eyes of a soldier. I think that every reader will appreciate its thoroughness, and extreme attention to detail. Tim O'Brien's novel gives war veterans the honor and respect that they deserve.
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am 8. November 1999
Memories are our link to life and those memories are the most important when you are surrounded by death and what better place to find death than a war. Most of the time we carry these memories with us, but we take it for granted that these things will always be there. we place them in the back of our mind and recall them only when we find need or are reminded of them. Well, it's about time that someone reminded us of those memories. O'Brien's, The Things They Carried, deals not only witht he pysical things they carried for the war, but the pysical things they carried to remember home and the emotional pressures they carried. At first glance, my reaction was, "Great! Another graphic war novel for those who can't stop learning about war." But this isn't a book about the war itself, it's a book about the people who fought the war. It's not about the government that started the war, but a book for every unsung hero that helped finish a war. The novel takes place in Vietnam, but if you change the setting and some of the equipment that they carried, this book could be about any war in history. The Things They Carried goes beyond the war to look at the people and as anyone who takes the time to look can see, the people are just like you and me. One of the characters carries a bible and another carries a picture of a loved one. They simple things because they are simple people, no different from you or me. Because O'Brien focuses on this fact, I think it helps put us in their place and stories are always best when you get to live them no matter how bad the situation may be in the story. I personally would have people read this book not only for the stories that they can relate to, but for the stories that make them look through somebody else's eyes. After all, the only way to make the world better is to look at it from a slightly different point of veiw. Whether it be upside down or through somebody else's eye, that's their choice. No matter what veiw you choose, remember, just remember.
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am 4. November 1999
The Things They Carried was a very relevant, to the story, title. The book is all about the things soldiers carry; both tangible and intangible. Not only did Tim O'Brien, the author, talk about what the soldiers carried on their backs, but how much each item weighed. O'Brien places a great deal of emphasis on the weight. Time after time, the weight of items are mentioned. This is especially true in the title chapter. Sometimes the weights are listed by the individual object and sometimes as a sum total at the end of a list of items.
Not only are the weights in such detail as to the ounce, but the actual items each man carries is in such detail as to describe the man who carries it. One of the many examples of this use of carried items to describe the character who bares its weight is in the title chapter, "Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-sized bars of soap . . . three pairs of socks and a can of dr. Scholl's foot powder . . ." (2-3). From this passage, one can logically deduce Dave Jensen is very concerned about his health, especially the health of his feet. After all, if someone had sick feet he could not walk, let alone run around foreign jungle.
One type of object on which O'Brien tended to dwell, not that it was a bad thing, were the good luck charms and other objects that gave the soldiers hope or helped to distract them from the animosity of the so-called war they were fighting. The objects ranged from a stereotypical rabbit's foot to a good luck pebble to a thumb given to one of the soldiers as a gift. Another soldier carried something that helped to give him the hope that one day he would be able to return home, and that also gave him luck. This aforementioned soldier carried his girlfriend's pantyhose around his neck like a child would carry his blanky. He carried it as both a good luck charm and a reminder of the real world back home. Also as reminders of home and escapes from the brutality, soldiers carried things like comic books and one soldier, as a reminder of his heritage, carried moccasins and a hunting hatchet.
These previously mentioned items are some of the tangible items the soldiers carried. The intangible items, the items that weighed heavily, not on the shoulders of the soldiers, but on their hearts. It is the load they must bare that is more difficult then any tangible object could ever weigh. These intangible objects weighed on the hearts, souls, and minds of the soldiers. One of these intangible weights was the weight on one member of the platoon, Lt. Jimmy Cross. He felt responsible for the death of one of the other members of his platoon who was shot by a sniper. Another man, Curt Lemon - a minor character in the story, carried the weight of the embarrassment of being scared of the dentist. One thing that added onto the weight of everything tangible or intangible, was these men were mot fighting a crystal-clear war. These soldiers did not know who their enemies were or why they had to kill these people. Overall, the weight these men carried was almost unbearable, especially the intangible weights that could never be lifted, and O'Brien does an excellent job of making the reader feel as f he is right there in the thick of the war.
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am 6. März 2000
I read The Things They Carried only because it was assigned in an English class. I usually enjoy most assigned reading, but I was surprised to see that this time, nearly all of my classmates did, as well. This novel follows the dramatic (and traumatic) experience of ten US soldiers of the Alpha Company fighting in Vietnam. The great thing about this book is that it has countless stories within the main story. Some take O'Brien whole chapters to tell, while others require only a few lines. But each of these, brief or detailed, gives the reader a glimpse into the men's lives, personally and as "grunts." The stories are each fascinating, disturbing, depressing, and amusing, and although they have different topics, they all are intertwined throughout the novel. O'Brien can masterfully weave his tales in and out of each other, using repetition to capture our attention and stress his points. He shares with us his idea of what true storytelling is as he immerges in some chapters as a fictional 43-year-old writer and in one chapter as himself, present-day. Keep in mind that, while this novel seems so real and even contains a character with the author's name, this is a work of fiction. O'Brien makes it clear that although his stories are "true," they are not his experiences in Vietnam.
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am 4. November 1999
In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien not only portrays life in the Vietnam War but also describes the weight carried by each individual. He mystifies the reader by placing them into the book through the soldiers' boots, flak jackets, and guns. However, the weight that he is ultimately trying to show is the one in the mind, heart, and soul. This book is a perfect example of non-fiction in a fictional book. This is sometimes questioned, though; due to the way that O'Brien places the reader in the "war zone" and even into each character's mind. Thus, he tries to accomplish a difficult task, to make us look into our imagination while combining historical past, or our memory. When comparing this book to others, I found a complete blank because this book stands alone. O'Brien has such a unique, intimate way of expressing the ideas and events that happen throughout the book. It has Dolby Surround Sound and a Tinitron monitor built into the plot. This is what makes it so exciting. When reading it, one can not wait for the ending. But, this is not feasible because the many questions that the reader has requires him to read between the lines of all the pages. This book is so true to life. It combines the memory aspect, as well as imagination, and the reader is then required to use them too. Each page is as unpredictable as the next one. From the beginning to the end, emotions can be felt. O'Brien drops you back in time to Vietnam, leaving you there to experience the weight that was felt.
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am 8. November 1999
"The Things They Carried" was a great read, though I must say that the psychological perspectives O'Brien offers through the "Evidence" chapters of "In the Lake of the Woods" makes that novel a more intruiguing and intellectually insightful piece of literature. The most interesting part of TTTC is its fictional status, which I, in fact, feel is truth instead. Although the novel seems on the large part a factual account of his experiences, I think the novel is capable of maintaining a "fictional" status because of the stance O'Brien takes on what is really the truth. As O'Brien states, "In any war story, but especially a true one, it's difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen...And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed" (78). This theme of exact truth and seeming truth is one that is constantly referred to throughout the novel, and is arguably the central focus of the novel. This continuing internal debate that takes place regarding the truth of the novel adds to the great psychological insight O'Brien offers in all of his works. His description of events, which if truly fiction is incredibly vivid, certainly portrays a reality that leaves an indelible mark on the reader's mind. TTTC, as is true of all of O'Brien's works, presents a view of the human psyche that is accurate, intruiging, and provacative. It is truly a novel worth reading.
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am 4. November 1999
First off, this book will change your ideas of what fiction and non-fiction may be. Technically, all of the passages contained within this book are stories. All made up, no more, no less. But the tricky part comes in when you start to realize how incredibly realistic O'Brien's tales are. "The Lives of the Dead" juxtaposes the skirmish in Vietnam and a childhood love to show how people generally cope with death, and if you didn't know better, you'd think it happened to you too. O'Brien has a good sense of detail, most likely given to him by the fact that what he writes about is still true to life, it just never happened. Sure, O'Brien was in the "war," but his comrades in this book are equal parts imagination and memory. There probably was no Ted Lavender, but there may have been a man in O'Brien's troop who was killed while whizzing. Or maybe not, maybe he just threw that in there to be either harsh or cheeky. No matter what it meant, it still makes the book one hundred percent believable. It's almost the same effect given by the film The Blair Witch Project: you know it's not real, but your entire mind doubts the truth. And this works very well for O'Brien, I've never read a better description of a man at war than this. Even after watching all of the Hollywood depictions of Vietnam, from the heroic Forrest Gump, to the horrors of the jungle in Apocalypse Now, or even the abrasive Ful l Metal Jacket. This book tells the story of how it effected people personally, how it changed them forever, and how there's no way they can ever go back to who they were. One perfect example is the chapter, "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong," in which one soldier ships his girlfriend over to Vietnam and watches her transform from a civilized lady into a ghost-like soldier. These are the stories that should've been told to every world leader before a conflict begins. You have to see what goes on inside the head of the individual to see what war is really like. At least I'm a believer.
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am 4. November 1999
They carried more than guns, boots, clothes, helmets, and food. They carried grief, love, hate, longing for home, and compassion in the midst of what seemed like the end. Only when they could not carry anymore did they give up their right to sanity and plunge into a world of chaos. The men either stood back and drifted from war, or they grasped on and devoted the time spent in Vietnam to be a choice of kill or be killed. In "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien allows the reader to grasp a part of war that is missing in the context of our history books. The focus is real and personal. It is alarming, yet captivating with the details at hand. The Vietnam War was none less than a dynamic adventure for the young men that fought in it. The story escapes into a world of imagination and memory. O'Brien crosses that line between comfort and discomfort with the reader. The binder reads fiction, but as you walk in the words of the author, it is hard to imagine the story being falsified. The vivid sensory details entangles the mind in a world of love and hate; war and freedom. He challenges the reader's reaction in each chapter and plants an emotional edge to his words. O'Brien finds his past to be more than a memory, it is real and lives daily. The descriptions pull the reader into the battle front to face each obstacle as if it were happening that moment. The book is brought to life with the introduction of each character. The title is rapidly evaluated by the items in which each soldier had to carry. As the chapters plunge forward a deeper meaning of The Things They Carried becomes evident. A burden that grasps not only the identity of each individual, but the heart as well. A burden that will never be lifted, but forever carried.
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