The Things They Carried


Somewhere I heard about The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.  I decided to check it out assuming it was a nonfiction book describing various personal items soldiers carried into war.  You know…pictures, good luck charms, books, letters.

Then, the book arrived and it was a novel set during the Vietnam War.  My knowledge of this war was limited.  No one in my family was drafted.  Born in 1972 in Georgia, my history classes never made it to the Vietnam War.  However, I know a lot about the Civil War.  All I knew – the Vietnam War was considered controversial and brutal.

This book educated me both about the Vietnam War and the effects of combat on soldiers.  If you only read one book to understand the psychological effects of war, read this one.  It’s a collection of short stories joined together.  These stories are accounts of a platoon from a variety of perceptions.  It’s all a little hazy, which increased my understanding of the confusion of combat… The guilt afterward…  How people heal emotionally… And that some never do.

It’s not a feel good book, but it’s an important book.  I think everyone should be required to read it before we enter any war.