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Tim O'Brien was born in Minnesota and served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, and after graduate studies at Harvard worked as a reporter for the Washington Post. When `If I Die in a Combat Zone' was published in 1973, it established him as one of the leading American writers of his generation, a status that was confirmed when `Going After Cacciato' won the National Book Award for fiction.
Winner of a National Book Award in 1979 for Going After Cacciato ( LJ 12/15/77), O'Brien again shows his literary stuff with this brilliant collection of short stories, many of which have won literary recognition (several appeared in O. Henry Awards' collections and Best American Short Stories ). Each of the 22 tales relates the exploits and personalities of a fictional platoon of American soldiers in Vietnam. An acutely painful reading experience, this collection should be read as a book and not a mere selection of stories reprinted from magazines. Not since Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse - Five ( LJ 3/1/69) has the American soldier been portrayed with such poignance and sincerity. Literary Guild featured alternate. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/89.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Library Journal''
Weapons and good-luck charms carried by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam here represent survival, lost innocence and the war's interminable legacy. ``O'Brien's meditations--on war and memory, on darkness and light--suffuse the entire work with a kind of poetic form, making for a highly original, fully realized novel,'' said PW. 60,000 first printing. (Apr.)
YA-- A series of stories about the Vietnam experience, based on the author's recollections. O'Brien begins by sharing the talismans and treasures his select small band of young soldiers carry into battle. The tales, ranging from a paragraph to 20 or so pages, reveal one truth after another. Sometimes the author tells the same story from different points of view, revealing the lingering, sometimes consuming, effect war leaves on the soul. In the end, readers are left with a mental and emotional sphere of mirrors, each reflecting a speck of truth about the things men carry into and out of war. In addition to leisure reading, this collection offers potential for history classes studying war, for English classes doing units on short stories, and perhaps for sociology or psychology assignments.-- Barbara Hawkins, West Potomac High, Fairfax County, VA
`One of the best war books of this century, an unflinching attempt to illuminate both its obscene physical brutality and the terrible mental overload' Guardian `A thrilling and beautiful distillation of everything that has been thought, felt, or said about the Vietnam War and its long afterburn. A heartbreaking and healing masterpiece; time will make it a classic' Michael Herr, author of Dispatches `Essential...O'Brien captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers...a stunning performance. The overall effect of these original tales is devastating' New York Times