I would have finished this book a week ago, but I've been down with the flu. Which one did you feel in your gut, much as O’Brien must have on that actual day in Vietnam, when he contemplated the fact that his bullet may have ended the life of another human?
It feels honest about the numbness and ambivalence of most soldiers fighting an unwinnable war, one in which the enemy was rarely seen and blended in so well with the civilian population. Tim O’Brien is the only author writing about the Vietnam War that I have read. I compared her to characters out of books by Hemingway and Maugham.
September 1st 1999
If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home study guide contains a biography of Tim O'Brien, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Remember the earlier excerpt from O’Brien’s memoir where O’Brien and Captain Johansen fired at three enemy silhouettes, killing one? Nothing new to add to old review. He's more of a pacifist. His peace of mind and restful nights were taken from him.
Because O’Brien so deliberately plays with the notions of truth, critic Steven Kaplan wrote: “O’Brien liberates himself from the lonesome responsibility of remembering and trying to understand events and creates a community of readers who understand that events have no fixed and final meaning.” Do you agree or disagree with Kaplan’s assessment? This being the second of Tim O’Brien’s books I have read I have found both to be insightful, dramatic, as well as disturbingly peaceful. I missed the Vietnam draft by a day. Is his a moral universe? ‘Why not?’ he said…He got into his car and rolled down the window. How could I doubt that what I was reading is true? It did not occur to me that a man would die when I pulled the trigger of that rifle. For the most part, O’Brien’s time in Vietnam was filled with the faceless enemies and terror that he and his fellow soldiers worked hard to keep at bay. Finally, Kiowa intervenes, throwing a poncho over the dead body. None of these objects are imaginary or concocted by the author, he identifies standard issue weapons down to the last ounce. He was drafted, so he had to go.
He feels the guilt and the burden of having killed and he wants his readers to feel it, too. No one will ever know whose bullet actually killed that man, but somehow that doesn’t bother me. Start by marking “If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home” as Want to Read: Error rating book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Although it is a memoir, it is so carefully crafted in its sequencing of vignettes and selection of archetypical examples, it comes across as a fictional narrative. Though I didn't love this quite as much as "The Things They Carried" (the ultimate Vietnam book IMO), or my all time love "In the Lake of the Woods" (words can't express the adoration I have for that chaotic beautiful mess), If I Die in a Combat Zone is disturbing and painful and written with the clarity and disdain the subject matter deserved. “Talk,” Kiowa said. (p. 130). Three of his books, If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973), Going After Cacciato (1978), and The Things They Carried (1990), deal specifically with the Vietnam war. Don’t mention anything about—’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I won’t.’”. Johansen fired. I wondered what the other two men, the lucky two, had done after our volley.
I'm a warmonger and my dream is for the world to be engaged in perpetual conflict.
He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. “In many cases,” he writes in his collection of short stories, The Things They Carried, “a true war story cannot be believed. Like me, O'Brien read deeply into the war and took a principled stance against it, but unlike me he actually went, citing cowardice as his main reason for finally agreeing to go. War wasn’t even over. I’m not sure how I phrased it—just a general question—but Jimmy Cross looked up in surprise. Tim O'Brien matriculated at Macalester College. 97-98). He didn’t glance once and look away. Although O'Brien is terrified, he forces himself to participate in combat wisely. If you have the time, I highly recommend reading this book alongside the marvellous and gripping Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam in which the author plays a prominent role. In these works O'Brien clearly establishes fear as both a dominant aspect of the experience and an essential component necessary for the display of courage, one of his most significant considerations.
In her letters she claimed I created her out of the mind.
We’d love your help. Later Johansen and the lieutenant talked about the mechanics of the ambush.
That, at least, was Johansen’s report. Some veterans I know don't like O'Brien's books because they say they are not true. Good job it wasn't me out there.
But wait a minute. But Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried 34 rounds when he was shot and killed outside Than Khe, and he went down under an exceptional burden, more than 20 pounds of ammunition, plus the flak jacket and helmet and rations and water and toilet paper and tranquilizers and all the rest, plus the unweighed fear.
Brave and handsome, all that stuff. On the adequately dubbed Mad Mark’s chest, you’d find the necklace of dead Vietcong ears, literally.
With daybreak, Captain Johansen and the artillery lieutenant walked over and found a man with a bullet hole in his head. The dialogue seemed pretty true to the soldiers I knew in Vietnam. He does recognize, however, that he has a duty alongside his fellow citizens to participate and not to dodge the draft. O'Brien's supporters say he should know. by Marsena Konkle, Words often fail me.