The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction


Book Information

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010
  • Character-Building Curriculum
  • Social Studies Curriculum

From the publisher:

"They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice.... Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to

A classic, life-changing meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling, with more than two-million copies in print 

Depicting the men of Alpha Company—Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three—the stories in The Things They Carried opened our eyes to the nature of war in a way we will never forget. It is taught everywhere, from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing, and in the decades since its publication it has never failed to challenge our perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, and courage, longing, and fear.

256 pages  978-0547391175  Ages 15 and up

Plot: Character-driven Tone: Emotional struggle; introspective Pacing: Measured

Editor's Note: This is a gritty collection of the stories of soldiers in the Vietnam War. They are exploring what is inside of them and revealing the war going on within them while they fight the war in the jungles. This is not an action-packed, shoot-em up. The action is on the interior, some of it dark and troubled, and all of it human and real.

Editor's note:  This book was recommended on the NCTE Teaching and Learning Forum.  Teachers who have used the book in their classroom units said their students loved it.

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