- First published in 1990, The Things They Carried is regarded as the quintessential fictional work about the Vietnam War. The novel is composed of 22 individual stories, but also combines aspects of memoir, novel and short story collections. This is a book that is easy to read, easy to pick up when you have time, and easy to revisit again and again.
- The novel is narrated in first person by a writer and combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He tells us soldier's stories - who they were before the draft, how they fought, and how they coped when they returned home. In its essence, these are stories of soldiers coming home and learning to live in the world again - learning to feel human again, learning not to be afraid, and learning to forgive.
- The Things They Carried is a war story and as such, socially relevant to us now in 2010. The novel offers a lot to be reflected upon - spiritual, emotional, and psychological burdens that we all carry with us. Tim O'Brien has often said that the title is meant to go beyond just soldiers and the war to the human race in general. As a war story, there are several haunting and graphic scenes. We hope the opportunity to read these stories will increase your awareness and respect for all our soldiers, both veterans and men and women in active duty. We also hope these stories will make you pause to reflect on the things you carry.
- Finally, The Things They Carried is also a novel about writing. The narrator and the characters in the novel often reflect on the process of storytelling and writing itself. We hope the wonderful depth this novel offers will give everyone something to cherish in reading this book.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the novel. Here is a look at the 1990 cover and the new anniversary edition: