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"When you are ordered to march through areas such as Pinkville--GI slang for Song My, parent village of My Lai ... you do some thinking. You hallucinate. You look ahead a few paces and wonder what your legs will resemble if there is more to the earth in that spot than silicates and nitrogen. Will the pain be unbearable? Will you scream or fall silent? Will you be afraid to look at your own body, afraid of the sight of your own red flesh and white bone? You wonder if the medic remembered his morphine."
O'Brien paints an unvarnished portrait of the infantry soldier's life that is at once mundane and terrifying--the endless days of patrolling punctuated by firefights that end as suddenly and inconclusively as they begin; the mind-numbing brutality of burned villages and trampled rice patties; the terror of tunnels, minefields, and the ever-present threat of death. Powerful as these scenes are, perhaps the most memorable chapter in the book concerns his decision to desert just a few weeks before he was sent to Vietnam. "The AWOL bag was ready to go, but I wasn't.... I burned the letters to my family. I read the others and burned them, too. It was over. I simply couldn't bring myself to flee. Family, the home town, friends, history, tradition, fear, confusion, exile: I could not run." Tim O'Brien went into the war opposing it and came out knowing exactly why. If I Die in a Combat Zone is more than just a memoir of a disastrous war; it is also a meditation on heroism and cowardice, on the mutability of truth and morality in a war zone and, most of all, on the simple, human capacity to endure the unendurable. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I haven't yet read any of O'Brien fictional work, but this memoir really opened my eyes. I feel so fortunate not having to experienced these types of challenges. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Real Happy
We use his later book "Things They Carried" in HS senior year AP English.
This first work lays the groundwork for the "Things" volume. Read more
Well written and thought provoking. Since reading this I bought two other books by Mr. O'Brien.Published 1 month ago by Lance Vandenbroek
This book is OK but it doesn't do justice to most of the emotions one experiences when faced with daily combat. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Richard Krulis
My son needed this book for school. Much too expensive to purchase the book (hard copy and paperback) so we were forced to purchase for his Kindle. He liked the story. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rachel