Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was sent to me by a a very close family friend while I was mobilized to Iraq for the end of the Iraq War, or Operation New Dawn (OND) as it was called. I had brought along my kindle and it was packed with books so I haven’t had a chance to finish it until now. Quite frankly I’m glad I didn’t get a chance to read it then.

The book is well written and conveys the sense of shame, despair, and confusion that the author went through during his war.

During his war. Not mine. The fifty or so odd years that separate the struggle that he went through and the struggle I and my friends and fellow service members went through is a very different time. A very different war.

I had confusion of why I was were I was and confusion over what we were supposed to do. I never, though, felt shame. I and my compatriots could always feel proud and the effort that we put in to our job and the professionalism we showed in doing our work. Surer there were the incompetent and the selfish individuals, as any one who has read my blog has heard me complain about. But overall I was never confused that I was doing the best I could and that we were doing the right thing.

I was also fortunate. I never had to kill anyone, and I never had anyone die in front of me. We lost people, and the lost hurt and was taken personally. But I was fortunate to be spared that aspect of war. Not everyone I know has been that lucky. I hope though that anyone who has served in the same war as I knows that they are not alone and that how they behaved and what they fought for, despite what the politicians say was the reason, was for the greater good.

I felt the anguish that the author went through and I could easily see myself or some people I know going down the same route. I’m glad I didn’t read it at the time because it would have cut to close and would have added to the separation and anxiety I was already feeling.

If that sounds like a back handed compliment it isn’t meant to be. I liked this book and it conveyed the war that Tim O’Brien went through. Fortunately for me, it wan’t the one I went through.

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