Resources for the Study of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

  • About Tim O’Brien – A profile of O’Brien by Don Lee, published in the Winter 1995-1996 edition of Ploughshares literary magazine. For other articles from Ploughshares pertaining to Tim O’Brien, click here
  • Writing Vietnam: A Conference at Brown University, including a Keynote Address by Tim O’Brien – “The Brown University Department of English and Creative Writing Program hosted a conference on ‘Writing Vietnam’ from April 21 to April 23, 1999. Nationally recognized writers of fiction, memoir, poetry, journalism, and biography read from and discussed their works based on their experiences in the Vietnam War. . . . In his remarks, O’Brien addresses issues of truth and fiction and the writer’s craft. His comments include anecdotes from his short stories ‘On the Rainy River’ and ‘Ambush.’ In both cases, he follows his retelling with some explanatory remarks.” This site includes both transcripts and RealPlayer audio files of the speeches.
  • Peace Church: An American Journey – “A village church. 1967. Vietnam. Crouched in a corner – ragged, sweaty, scared – a news photographer aims his camera at a wounded Marine seated near the altar. Three decades later, this picture would lead the photographer and the Marine’s younger brother on a remarkable journey of history, healing and brotherhood.” Published in the Summer of 1998 by the Washington Post, this three-part series by Phil McCombs includes numerous resources for the study of the Vietnam War.  For the surprising epilogue to this story, published on October 27, 1998, click here.
  • “Turning Points: 1966” (Requires a free trial subscription to HighBeam Research.) – Washington Post writer and Vietnam veteran Henry Allen on a turning point in his life and the country’s, a brief memoir that has much in common with Tim O’Brien’s work.
  • Vietnam War Internet Project – “The Vietnam War Internet Project is an educational organization dedicated to providing information and documents about the various Indochina Wars and to the collection and electronic publication on the web of oral histories and memoirs of both those who served in and those who opposed those conflicts.”
  • Vietnam War Literature – Colorado State University Libraries’ “Vietnam War Literature Collection contains imaginative accounts of Americans fighting in Vietnam. Included are fiction, plays, poetry, artists’ sketches and miscellaneous works. Historical, political and autobiographical accounts as well as protest literature set outside the time or place of the Vietnam War are excluded.” There is a brief overview of Vietnam War literature, as well.
  • Imaginative Representations of the Viet Nam War – “A collection of material . . . preserved in the Department of Special Collections at La Salle University’s Connelly Library. The fundamental aspiration of the Collection operates under a dual intention: 1.To discover how a discrete body of creative literature becomes mythopoeic. That is, how a complex event may be interpreted through creative means; 2.To discover how creative treatments of an event use aesthetic values to reveal both the fact and emotional essence of traumatic cultural phenomena. The primary resources for studying the above two processes are gathered in a collection presently consisting of about 9,000 books of fiction and poetry together with 600 non-print items. Additionally, more than 600 films and videos are available.” This site includes online texts from the collection, including stories, poetry, and essays.
  • Edwin Moïse’s Vietnam War Bibliography – Compiled by a Clemson University history professor, an expert in Vietnam and military history, this is a wide-ranging bibliography of material relating to the Vietnam War, including a subsection on fiction, both American and Asian. It is not an annotated bibliography, but some entries have comments and evaluations by Moïse. For photos of Vietnam taken by Prof. Moïse during a trip in the mid-1980s, click here.
  • The Draft Lottery – Part of a massive site devoted to the history of the 15th Artillery, this page includes an original news article on the Dec. 1, 1969, Draft Lottery and a chart of all the birth dates and draft numbers. There are also links to other pages on the history of the American involvement in Vietnam, including essays, stories, and poetry by veterans.