"The Things They Carried," a work of fiction about the experience of a group of soldiers in the Vietnam War, is one of the rare works of recent literature that has helped define Vietnam and the experience of war.
Marking the 20th anniversary of its publication, author Tim O'Brien talked to students and others, including this recent Webcast conversation shot at a Washington, D.C., high school.
In this NewsHour interview, he talks about his goals in writing the book, how it relates to his experience fighting in the Vietnam War, and what young people should know about war.
"A bullet can kill the enemy, but a bullet can also produce an enemy, depending on whom that bullet strikes." - Author Tim O'Brien
"The word war itself has a kind of glazing abstraction to it that conjures up bombs and bullets and so on, whereas my goal is to try to, so much as I can, capture the heart and the stomach and the back of the throat of readers who can lie in bed at night and participate in a story." - Author Tim O'Brien
"When I have a book I enjoy, I'm partly in the book. I'm not just observing it." - Author Tim O'Brien
"Young people, in particular, need to understand the complications and the ambiguities of these things, and to hear it from someone who has not only gone to a war, but devoted a lifetime to suffering from it." - Author Tim O'Brien
1. Have you read any books about war that have affected your attitude towards war?
2. What is the difference between fiction and non fiction? What is historical fiction?
3. What did we learn from the Vietnam War?
1. Why did Tim O'Brien write "The Things They Carried"?
2. What does Tim O'Brien say about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? How does this relate to the way the American public views these wars?
3. What does his statement "A bullet can kill the enemy, but a bullet can also produce an enemy, depending on whom that bullet strikes," mean to you?