The Things They Carried

by Tim O'Brien | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0767902890 Global Overview for this book
Registered by midwinter of Tucson, Arizona USA on 5/2/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
28 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by midwinter from Tucson, Arizona USA on Monday, May 2, 2005
From the back:
They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28 pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And, if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

Bookring shipping order:

Telerandil, Arizona, USA
icekween01, Missouri, USA (int'l)
goatgrrl, BC, Canada (int'l)
WhitePine, Connecticut, USA (int'l)
blaisezabini12, Romania (Europe only)
BookHaven01, Portugal (int'l)
lisabb2, Iowa, USA (USA pref.)
AngelfireStar , Nebraska, USA
geniedances, Texas, USA
buffra, Virginia, USA (int'l)
tbeckross, Washington DC, USA (int'l)
Hellie, UK (int'l)
esq228, New Jersey, USA (US pref.)
wyldewomin, Massachusetts, USA (int'l)
firrantello, North Carolina, USA (US/Can. prefered)

Journal Entry 2 by Telerandil from Tucson, Arizona USA on Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Received from midwinter as part of a bookray.

You already know what this book's about. My initial impressions, having finished it, is that I read something very, very important, but I can't for the life of me pick out the details of it. It's as if there's an adaptation of it knocking around in my head, and that's all I remember.

The striking feature of this work is the interplay between its chapters. Between the covers is a series of personal recollections, tall tales, and editorial notes, each of which would stand on its own (and, as most of these are reprints, they originally did stand on their own). Yet these chapters combine to form something more coherent than a collection of short stories, but less cohesive than a single novel. Midwinter suggested that it sounds a lot like Vonnegut's war work, and it really does work that way.

There are a lot of rough edges to this book--both in terms of content and narrative structure. Expect blood and gore and people being less than polite. Expect jarring transitions between successive chapters and sudden bouts of bathos. Yet like the overall structure, the rough edges work together to tell a story. You'll end up filling in some of the transitions yourself, but that's part of the fun.

The story? You'll have to make it up as you go along, like I did. Yet, if you read between the lines a bit--and the narrator gladly shows you the way--you just might find glimpses of a war someone carried all the way home.

Read this one in small doses, on the edge of sleep or in between waypoints.

On its way to icekween01.

Journal Entry 3 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Wednesday, May 25, 2005
received today. I have about 90 pages left in the book I'm currently reading...

The Anorexia Diaries by Linda and Tara Rio

and then I will start on this one.

Thanks for sharing your book!

Happy Bookcrossing!

Journal Entry 4 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Monday, June 6, 2005
Initially I was very impressed with the book but I felt a little let down by the ending. Not enough to not recommend reading it. Just my own personal disappointment. It certainly was a vivid and sometimes gory picture of Vietnam and it carries weight even though it is fiction.

Thanks for sharing your book. I will be passing it along shortly.

Happy Bookcrossing!

Released 16 yrs ago (6/7/2005 UTC) at -- By Post Or By Hand - i.e. Ring, Trade, RABCK, Meet in St. Louis, Missouri USA



sending to the next bookcrosser on the list, goatgrrl


Happy Bookcrossing!

Journal Entry 6 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Thursday, June 23, 2005
It's here! Thanks very much, midwinter and icekween, for making this book available and passing it along. I'll likely start it over the weekend, as soon as I finish the book I'm reading at the moment.

Journal Entry 7 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, June 26, 2005
Well, I feel like the best response I could have to this book would be to write "the poor baby buffalo ... it made me sad" (see "How to Tell a True War Story", p. 84). But I'll try to be a little less oblique. The Things They Carried is a great reminder of the dehumanizing impact of war, but past a certain age there aren't many among us who need the reminder. Other than that, it really just amounts to a bunch of war stories, and the thing about war stories is that -- told simply for their own sake -- they're engaging, but not particularly edifying. Battle makes people crazy - perverted, hardened and cruel. Message received. Now what?

I felt confused and unsettled by O'Brien's characterization of this book as "a work of fiction", when so much of it is clearly rooted in fact. The book is dedicated to the men of Alpha Company, many of whom -- O'Brien tells us in the book -- are named in its pages. But O'Brien seems to have augmented the facts with some confusing, self-aggrandizing details (I killed someone ... I didn't kill someone ... we all killed ... but I didn't kill anyone ... but of course I did ...), and he's clearly chosen not to include some others (like what really happened to the "cute Mama-san" at p. 240 between the time Curt Lemon stripped her at gun point and when he "tuck[ed] her into bed"). Any accountability to the truth gets wiped out in the designation of this book as "fiction". This seems somehow wrong to me. (And disappointing, considering what a talented fiction writer O'Brien really is - I'd heartily recommend his In the Lake of the Woods.)

The piece I did like a lot was "On the Rainy River" (p. 39). O'Brien's rant at p. 45 ("I'd be screaming at them, telling them how much I detested their blind, thoughtless, automatic acquiescence to it all, their simpleminded patriotism, their prideful ignorance, their love-it-or-leave-it platitudes, how they were sending me off to fight a war they didn't understand and didn't want to understand ...") certainly resonates today. And the character of Elroy Berdahl, whether real or imaginary, was wonderful.

But back to the baby buffalo. I guess you'd have to be an edgy, battle-hardened war veteran to get that that was a "love story", all right. To a stupid co*ze like me, it just seemed like unspeakable cruelty.

(Top left: Bong Son, Vietnam, 1966, a Vietnamese mother and her children are framed by the legs of a soldier from the U.S. First Cavalry Division. By photographer Henri Huet (1927-1971). From Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina.)

Journal Entry 8 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, June 26, 2005
Have PMd WhitePine requesting his/her address. Will post again once this book is in the mail.

Journal Entry 9 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Sunday, June 26, 2005
awesome review, goatgrrl!

Journal Entry 10 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Monday, June 27, 2005
Mailed to WhitePine on Monday, June 27th. Thanks very much, midwinter, for making this book available to us!

Journal Entry 11 by WhitePine from Coventry, Connecticut USA on Saturday, July 2, 2005
just received this book and jumped right in to it.

Journal Entry 12 by WhitePine from Coventry, Connecticut USA on Sunday, July 17, 2005
I wanted to read this book, I am glad I did. It lef tme with many emotions . What is good is bad and what is bad is good

Journal Entry 13 by rem_DUV-129661 on Tuesday, August 2, 2005
This book was picked up by my brother from the post office. I have just returned from Italy and it was one of the many books waiting for me home:) Will read as soon as possible!

28 August 05: I am sorry it took me so much time to read this book. The truth is I wasn't in the right mood and I prefered to wait some time before trying to start reading it again - and I must say this: it was worth it!
The stories were SO REAL and page by page I got to know all the characters better and better. My favorite story was by far "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" because it was so impredictible and it left an open ending.
I already have the address of the next reader and I'll mail the book at the beginning of next week. Sorry again for delaying the ring and thank you midwinter for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
30 August 05: mailed today

Journal Entry 14 by -BookHaven- on Thursday, September 8, 2005
i received it today.
i am finishingone ring,have another tiny one, and expect to start this one this sunday.

thanks a lot for sharing midwinter.

Journal Entry 15 by -BookHaven- on Sunday, September 25, 2005
being an european, i expected this book not to have such an impact in me asi found it had in you from your je's, but i found it awsome!
it really is cruel and lovely, from the passion and sorrow o'brien puts in it.
as midwinter said, i really feel i've read something important and that will stay with me for long...

thank you for sharing, i think maybe i'll come back later, as the dust settles down and post some more comments.

i'll be sending this ring to lisabb2 tomorrow.

Journal Entry 16 by lisabb2 from Grimes, Iowa USA on Monday, October 10, 2005
Got this in the mail recently and am reading now!!!

Journal Entry 17 by lisabb2 from Grimes, Iowa USA on Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Well...not sure how I really feel about this one. Sometimes I was really into it and other times it just creeped me the baby buffalo. I do think that it showed how war seems unreal at times to those who were there and also how war can be a living hell at other times. Maybe this one kind of got to me since my boyfriend is over in Iraq right now and it seems like he's really thinking about life and what we take for granted sometimes.

Anyway, I'll be sending this one to AngelfireStar shortly.

Journal Entry 18 by AngelfireStar from Falls City, Nebraska USA on Friday, October 28, 2005

Journal Entry 19 by AngelfireStar from Falls City, Nebraska USA on Saturday, February 4, 2006
Not a bad book. Took a while to get through.

Released 15 yrs ago (2/4/2006 UTC) at Via Mail in -- Mail or by hand-rings, RABCK, meetings, Nebraska USA



sent to geniedances

Journal Entry 21 by geniedances from Houston, Texas USA on Saturday, February 11, 2006
Arrived in the mail today.

Journal Entry 22 by geniedances from Houston, Texas USA on Saturday, April 8, 2006
These stories were similar to some I've heard from friends who served in Viet Nam. Without a doubt, anyone who serves during war time comes out of the experience changed. It wiould be impossible not to have that happen. Dehumanizing effects were most definately taken to the extreme in the baby water buffalo story. As far as I'm concerned, this was a tale of animal cruelty and cannot be intepreted as anything else. Each carried the weight of his own personal battle within himself. In O'Brian's case writing is his therapy. It is a worthwhile read although I had to take it in small doses. I am sending it on to buffra.

Journal Entry 23 by buffra from Columbus, Ohio USA on Saturday, May 27, 2006

I'm so sorry -- this book arrived, it's been read and when I went to PM the next person on the list, I realized it had snuck in without being journalled! I'm so sorry about that.

I have read it and will right up my thoughts after a bit. I just wanted to let it be known that it was safe and about to undergo the next bit of its journey (on Tuesday, I guess, due to the holiday weekend).

Journal Entry 24 by tbeckross from Washington, District of Columbia USA on Saturday, June 3, 2006
Received today...thanks! Plan to start this one shortly.

Journal Entry 25 by tbeckross from Washington, District of Columbia USA on Monday, July 10, 2006
I thought this was a wonderful memoir. I was hooked from the first page - and I usually don't care for war biographies. This book was different though. I found it to be very moving in its simplicity, both the beauty and the cruelty. I think it's one that will stay with me for awhile.

Never received a response from Hellie, so I sent this off to esq228 on 7/8/06.

Journal Entry 26 by StinaRy from Long Beach, California USA on Thursday, July 20, 2006
Received yesterday in NJ. Have another bookring ahead of it but will start on it soon!

Journal Entry 27 by StinaRy from Long Beach, California USA on Thursday, August 17, 2006
Simply amazing. While I am a fan of books on this topic, and therefore may be biased, I believe even those who are not fans of "war stories" would enjoy this. So beautifully written, with fantastic imagery. I'd recommend this to just about anyone.

I've already PM'd wyldewomin, but have yet to get a response. I'll try once more, but will move on to the next person if there still isn't a repsonse.

Journal Entry 28 by wyldewomin from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts USA on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Very good. Sorry it took so long to pass along. have pm'd firrantello for addy

Journal Entry 29 by firrantello from Morganton, North Carolina USA on Monday, December 11, 2006
Oh wow, it was postmarked December 1 and I didn't journal it until now. Oops. Well, it's safe with me, I'll get on reading it and then try to find someone to RABCK it to when I'm done. Thanks for adding me to the list midwinter!

Journal Entry 30 by firrantello from Morganton, North Carolina USA on Thursday, December 28, 2006
I'd read excerpts from this book in middle school and liked it very much. Here we are down the road and I finally got to read it. It was interesting, but somehow less intreiguing that I had always thought it would be.
I'll try to find somone to RABCK this to.

EDIT: Going to KarenZero, who is toward the end of a ray for this herself. I'm just hurrying up the process :)

Journal Entry 31 by KarenZero from Maplewood, New Jersey USA on Sunday, January 7, 2007
Thanks for sending this to me, firrantello! I've heard that this is a really good book so I am looking forward to reading it. I'll be sure to journal my thoughts when I'm done. Thanks again!

Journal Entry 32 by KarenZero from Maplewood, New Jersey USA on Thursday, June 14, 2007
I am continuing the bookray for this, and will post my thoughts once I am done with the book. Here is the list so far:

twinkpuddin (US)
hopesdreams (CAN, prefers US/CAN)
booklover (US, can ship intl)
tqd (Australia, can ship intl)
Jubby (Australia, can ship intl)
kizmiaz (Portugal, prefers to ship EU)
biffin44 (England, can ship intl)
Haugtussa (Norway, can ship intl)

Journal Entry 33 by KarenZero from Maplewood, New Jersey USA on Friday, June 15, 2007
This was a very affecting and well thought-out book. Interestingly, it is FICTION, although of course it is influenced by Tim's own experiences. It, of course, reads very much like a memoir and the influence of a possibly untrustworthy narrator is really interesting. I enjoyed this book very much and breezed through it. It was captivating, moving, and disturbing all at once. Highly recommended! This book is #180 on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Thanks for sharing it!

Journal Entry 34 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Sunday, June 17, 2007
Thanks for passing along! In the middle of another book right now, then gonna get a start on this classic.

Journal Entry 35 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Monday, July 23, 2007
I finished this last nite. I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. Between O'Brien being in the book and stories that felt so true, it was difficult to remember it's fiction. Some parts felt incredibly familiar. I thought I hadn't read it, but perhaps I read excerpts in high school.

I have hopesdreams' address and will get the book off asap. Thanks KarenZero for sharing!

Journal Entry 36 by twinkpuddin from Seattle, Washington USA on Saturday, August 11, 2007
Sorry about the delay! Book out into the mail today.

Journal Entry 37 by hopesdreams from Abbotsford, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Just had this book arrive in the mail. I look forward to reading this book.

Journal Entry 38 by hopesdreams from Abbotsford, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, August 26, 2007
This book was deep & sad for me to read.
Thanks for sharing.

Journal Entry 39 by booklover on Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Redeived this today in the mail.

Journal Entry 40 by booklover on Saturday, September 15, 2007
This is the first book I have read about Vietnam. I feel sorry for the puppy and the baby water buffalo. Military conflict changes people in almost immeasurable ways. I highly recommend this book. I read it in one sitting. Sending this off to tqd next.

Journal Entry 41 by tqd from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, September 27, 2007
Turned up in the mail today to start the antipodean leg of its journey! Thanks booklover, I look forward to reading this one.

Journal Entry 42 by tqd from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, October 7, 2007
Thank you very much, KarenZero for the chance to read this very powerful, moving and amazing novel. It's one of those books where there's no real plot or story arc, just lots of short stories and vignettes about the Vietnam War.

I've read very few war novels, and I think this is the first book I've read set in Vietnam.

I liked the whole concept of "truth" in a war story. Or the lack of truth:

In war you lose your sense of the definite, hence your sense of truth itself, and therefore it's safe to say that in a true war story nothing is ever absolutely true.

I found that this whole (often repeated) concept was again repeated by the blurring of the lines between fact and fiction: obviously the author had served in Vietnam, and was affected by what happened there, and has used it as a source of his stories. But at the same time, he often repeats that he's making up stories. And, then again, you get the same story (in particular, Kiowa's death) from different viewpoints and storylines.

The most powerful bit of the book for me, and the phrase that I may never lose:

"Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin's real fresh and original."

I notice on the spine of the book that it was shelved under teenage fiction at the library (it being an ex-library book, and it's good to see it have another lease of life as a bookcrossing book!). At first I wondered at that (it's about war, and it's not a particularly easy read, although it's wonderfully written), but then I realised that if you can go to war at 18, you can read about it at 18 (or earlier) too.

I'll be seeing Jubby at meetup (bookdrinks!) on Tuesday night, so shall pass this along then. Thanks everyone for getting the book to me, I am very glad I got the chance to read it!

Journal Entry 43 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Thank you TQD.

I received this book at our local bookcrossing bookdrinks this evening.

Now, I've got three other bookrings ahead of this one, I am also on holidays, and hope to get to this one soon.

Thank you for sharing your book with me.

Journal Entry 44 by jubby from Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, November 1, 2007
Now, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I think if this book was not on the '1001 books to read before you die' list, I would not have picked it up (stories about Vietnam vets aren't my usual cup of tea), but was taken aback when I read taht this is much, much more.

An exploration between fact and fiction; an explanation as to why we tell the stories that we do; and examination of the style and techniques that we use for stories.

It was not so much the topic, but the style of this book that I enjoyed the most. And pages 179-180 were just brilliant, with their explanation of why a writer changes and bends facts, and enhances stories.

I think I enjoyed that passage so much, because I recently read 'A million little pieces' by James Frey, and could see why one would deviate from the truth. I am sure the $$$ are also alluring (would Oprah have picked his book to flog is it had been published as fiction?).

Thank you for sharing this book with me Karenzero.
And I can see why TQD made mention of this book being in the Young Adults section of a library.
Not a choice I would agree with...

But a great book for adults, and especially those who like autobiographies and memoirs.

Journal Entry 45 by jubby at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, November 1, 2007

Released 13 yrs ago (10/29/2007 UTC) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Posted to Kizmiaz in Portugal.

Journal Entry 46 by kizmiaz from Belém , Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Thursday, November 8, 2007
Just got it, thanks jubby.
I still have one book to finish before I get to this but it shouldn't take long.

Journal Entry 47 by kizmiaz from Belém , Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This was a most surprising and refreshing read. It’s a collection of short stories but they’re all intertwined so the book really reads like a novel. Very well crafted and poignant writing.
An amazing fictional (barely) account of the experiences of an U.S. infantry soldier in Vietnam. The blood, the guts, the tears, the naïveté, the fear and the bravery, it’s all here and told in such a vivid way that you can’t help but feel for what these guys were put through.
Even though the Vietnam war is a little alien to Portugal we did have a couple of wars going at the same time Vietnam was going and went through the same stuff: drafts, young guys running from the country so they wouldn’t be enlisted, guys sent to fight an unknown enemy, guys dying without a clue of what they were doing there, and especially guys returning to country that felt uncomfortable by their return. All this helped to “get” what the author was relating.
A book that I can’t really find the words to define, except to say that it’s a must read, whether you’re an American or not and whether you stand for war or against it. This book is for written fiction about Vietnam what Platoon is for movie fiction about that same war, both a ten star fictional (barely) account of a screwed up war and the guys that got screwed fighting it. The things they carried going in there weren’t half as heavy as the things they carried coming out of that place.
I’ll be sending it along today (14.11.2007).

Journal Entry 48 by biffin44 from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Thursday, November 22, 2007
This came through the door today, nice surprise. Have just started reading The Grapes of Wrath which i think might take, um, a while! But will do my best ;)


SO SO sorry it has taken me this - but I'm happy to say that the book is now on it's way to Norway.

I thought it wouldnt take me long to read this because it's a small book, large text and not technically challenging. I didnt consider the fact that i just wouldnt like it. I'm afraid the narrative did not hold my attention and so i generally was inspired to pick it up and read it...

Sorry again but thanks for the opportunity!

Journal Entry 49 by wingHaugtussawing from Stavanger, Rogaland fylke Norway on Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I received the book today.
I'm looking forward to read it.

Journal Entry 50 by wingHaugtussawing from Stavanger, Rogaland fylke Norway on Thursday, January 24, 2008
Well - what to say?
I liked parts of the book, but as previous readers have pointed out I found it strange that the author stated it as 'a work of fiction'.

I'd like to add a quote from the book p.230
"The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make the spirits in the head."

Well, unfortunally O'Brien didn't make me dream along with him.

As I am last in the ray - I'll try to continue it.

Ths list of participants & shipping order
Tuttasb - Norway (Europe)
Vamperstein8782 - UK (Eurpoe)
RDWirral - UK (Europe)
Marsala - The Netherlands (Europe)
iliotropio - Belgium (international)
perryfran - USA (international)
ExemplDucemus - USA (Within the US)
SeamonkeyofTVCH - USA (international)
cat207 - Australia (prefers Aus)
juli2007 - Australia (international)

Journal Entry 51 by Tuttasb from Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag fylke Norway on Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The book arrived safe today. Thank you for letting me be a part of the story of this well travelled book.

Journal Entry 52 by Tuttasb from Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag fylke Norway on Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I'm not sure what I feel about this book. It is really a book worth reading but I have to agree with the previous readers, is this fiction or fact, I was confused. The book is filled with horrific details but I guess that is necessary to make a realistic description of what really happened in Vietnam. This is not the best book I've read but I'll recommend it to other readers becaus the book makes an impression and tells stories about war we should not forget.

Journal Entry 53 by Tuttasb at BookCrosser in book ring/ray, By Mail/Post/Courier -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Released 13 yrs ago (2/6/2008 UTC) at BookCrosser in book ring/ray, By Mail/Post/Courier -- Controlled Releases



On it's way to the next reader.

Journal Entry 54 by rem_AMJ-898913 on Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Received safely thanks!

Journal Entry 55 by rem_AMJ-898913 on Thursday, March 6, 2008
I think this would have been better if it had actually been written as a true story rather than a work of fiction, because there is so much obvious personal truth in it (take the chapter entitled "Notes" for example) that calling it fiction just makes it fall kinda flat. It almost has a sense of inertia, a kind of emptiness about it.

I didn't feel anything for any of the characters (with the exception of the baby buffalo) and wasn't moved by any of the events that happened (again, with the exception of the baby buffalo incident). And, if I'm honest I only actually read the whole thing because I don't like giving up on books.

Will mail this on to RDWirral tomorrow.

Journal Entry 56 by RDWirral from New Ferry, Merseyside United Kingdom on Friday, April 11, 2008
This arrived about 2 weeks ago, but I went away before I registered. Looking forward to it. Thanks midwinter!

Journal Entry 57 by lostbookisland on Monday, December 15, 2008
This book has washed ashore at the Lost Book Island after not being heard from for many months. This new arrival will be shown to a room and be allowed a bit of rest before being introduced to the many fun things to do here at the island.

All around there are books sipping cool drinks under shady palms while other books participate in a wide variety of beach sports. There is plenty of sand, surf and sun here for all of the lost and wayward books to enjoy.

It is hoped that very soon a new journal entry will come to rescue this book from the island and send it back out into the BookCrossing world so that it may continue on its journey. It is hoped that the new journal entry will tell all the interested parties where this book has been this long time and where it will be traveling to next.

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