National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried

by Tim O'Brien

Abstraction may make your head believe, but a good story, well told, will also make your kidneys believe, and your scalp and your tear ducts, your heart, and your stomach, the whole human being.


Tim O'Brien (Copyright Marion Ettlinger, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin)

Writer Andrew Carroll is one of the nation's foremost experts on wartime correspondence. The editor of several acclaimed books including War Letters (2001) and Behind the Lines (2005), he is also the founder of the Legacy Project, a national all-volunteer initiative that encourages Americans to preserve their wartime letters and emails. He is the editor of the anthology Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families (2006).

Lan Samantha Chang's works include Hunger: A Novella and Stories (1998), winner of many prizes including the Southern Review book award, the Banta Award for Literature, and the PEN/Hemingway/Ucross Prize; the novel Inheritance (2004); and All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost (2010). Since 2006 she has been the Director of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Author Richard Currey served in Vietnam as a medical corpsman for the Navy. His books include the novels Fatal Light (1988) and Lost Highway (1997); a collection of poems and nonfiction, Crossing Over: The Vietnam Stories (1980); and a short story collection, The Wars of Heaven (1990).

Max Paul Friedman is a writer and a history professor at American University in Washington, DC. His book, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (2003) won the Herbert Hoover Book Prize in U.S. History.

David Kipen is a freelance book critic and founder of Libros Schmibros, a lending library and used bookshop in Los Angeles. He is the former Director of National Reading Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw The Big Read, and a former book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Kipen is the author of The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History (2006).

Alice McDermott is the author of the 1998 National Book Award winner for fiction, Charming Billy. Such other books as A Bigamist's Daughter (1982), That Night (1987) and After This (2006) have also enjoyed critical success and a wide readership. She is the Richard A. Macksey professor of writing at Johns Hopkins University.

E. Ethelbert Miller has been the Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University since 1974. His poetry collections include Whispers, Secrets and Promises (1998) and How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love (2004). Miller has written two memoirs: Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (2000) and The 5th Inning (2009).

Craig Mullaney is a Rhodes Scholar and West Point graduate who served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He taught history at the U.S. Naval Academy from 2005-2008. His bestselling memoir, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education, was published in 2009. He has also worked for USAID and the Department of Defense.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Tim O'Brien won the 1979 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction for his novel Going After Cacciato. His other works include the memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973); and the novels In the Lake of the Woods (1994) and July, July (2002). The Things They Carried (1990) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize.

Juilliard-trained actor Bradley Whitford has enjoyed an impressive career in film, television, and theater. In 2001 he won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the television series The West Wing (1999-2006). His films include Bicentennial Man (1999) with Robin Williams, The Muse (1999) with Albert Brooks, and Cabin in the Woods (2012).

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