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Book Reviews

The Things They Carried (1990) - Shreya Sachdev

The Things They Carried was published in 1990 and is written by Tim O’Brien. The Things They Carried is a collection of 20 short stories, each that are about American men fighting in the Vietnam War and how they deal with the war itself as well as their feelings about the war and the people they meet. I want to start off by saying that I really liked this book, because it explores so many different themes and really gives an insight into the reality of war. One major theme of the book is the expectations of men contrasted with the realities of men. Often, when we think about war and soldiers that fight, we all generalize them and see them as men who are simply there to perform their duty. However, we don’t see the human side of them and ever think about their feelings towards the war and how they are forced to do this. Tim O’Brien paints such a realistic picture of each soldier that it truly makes the reader sympathize more with these soldiers and view them as proper human beings. I think that more than anything, this book is truly able to open people’s eyes and make them think about certain things in a different light. For example, this idea of truth is a reoccurring theme in the book. Tim O’Brien makes the point about how truth varies for so many people and that there are so many interpretations of truth that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Most importantly, though, this book is able to make people understand the pain that these men have to go through when they are forced to fight in the war. Tim O’Brien’s structure is very subtle, and it takes careful analysis to decode O’Brien’s message. I would give The Things They Carried a 10/10.

Shreya Sachdev