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Best known for his fictional portrayal of the Vietnam War Tim OBrien is an American novelist and short story writer who has been compared to Ernest Hemingway Stephen Crane and Joseph Heller The novels that established his reputation Going after Cacciato1978 and The things They Carried1990 explore the horrors of war in a style that is precise and unexpecting yet unbelievably realistic Besides the well-deserved guilt and shame and anguish invoked by the Vietnam War Americans can also take rightful pride in the great national achievements One was the anti-war movement of tens of millions of ordinary citizens a movement in which Vietnam veterans and active duty soldiers eventually played a decisive role The other major achievement is the literature produced by the war a literature of which Vietnam veterans have become the formative creators Tim OBrien has been involved in both of these His contribution to the anti-war movement- writing anti-war editorials for his college newspaper and later ringing doorbells for Eugene McCarthy in 1968 had no great immediate effect even on himself for he then marched off to fight in the very war he considered evil But his contribution to the literature of the war has been exceptional partly because his own experience has led to an almost unbearable share of that American guilt and shame and anguish OBrien served in Vietnam with the fifth Battalion forty sixth infantry from January 1969 to March 1970 He patrolled some of the most active and brutal sites of the war and it definitely showed in the settings of his writings I have read all of OBriens books and The Things They Carried is my favorite one He is a natural storyteller who can spin a tale with the rest of them The main theme is not that war kills and destroys but that storytelling explains connects and ultimately saves the teller and the listener The two great themes that are installed in all of his
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