A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane BauerA Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer

A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

byShane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, Sarah Shourd

Paperback | March 3, 2015

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In summer 2009, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were hiking in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Wrongly accused of espionage, the three Americans ultimately found themselves in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison, where only months earlier leaders of the failed Green Revolution had been confined and tortured. Cut off from the world and trapped in a legal black hole, Bauer, Fattal, and Shourd discovered that pooling their strength of will and relying on each other was the only way they could survive. In A Sliver of Light , the three finally tell their side of the story. With an innovative and ambitious interweaving of the authors' three voices, the book offers a rare glimpse inside Iran at a time when understanding this fractured state has never been more important. But beyond that, this memoir is a profoundly humane account of defiance, hope, and the elemental power of friendship.
SHANE BAUER, SARAH SHOURD, and JOSHUA FATTAL were imprisoned in Iran in 2009. Shourd was released one year later and worked to secure Bauer and Fattal's return in 2011. Since then, the three have pursued careers as writers.
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Title:A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in IranFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.92 inPublished:March 3, 2015Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0544483979

ISBN - 13:9780544483972

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Read from the Book

Summer 2009   1. Shane I stir out of sleep. The air is so fresh and cool, it’s almost minty. Distantly, I hear a stream purl. Sarah and Josh are lying on both sides of me, unmoving. A deep predawn glow infuses everything. A bat cuts jaggedly through the air. I sit up and stretch my arms and back, which sends bursts of energy through my body. Today, we are going to hike. There are few things I love more than this.   Brown mountains jut up over either side of us, mottled with specks of green bushes and patches of yellow grass that looks like lion’s fur. The trail we started on last night snakes upward, weaving a thin little thread through the valley. We wash our faces in a nearby stream. We fill up our many little water bottles, eat some bread and cheese, and walk.   Josh is light spirited and contemplative, jumping from one rock to the next as we set off up the valley. He’s so good at shaking off weariness, putting that wholesome smile back on his face. Sarah and I trail behind him, holding hands and weaving our way between the rocks. None of us speaks, except to point out the occasional curiosity, like empty goat pastures hemmed in by short walls of piled-up rocks or the occasional cement prayer niches with arrows that point the pious toward Mecca.   Hours pass as we walk. Porcupine quills, cat feces, and perfectly round spiky purple flowers appear sporadically on the slowly thinning trail. Josh is a hundred feet ahead. A cloud of yellow dust is pluming behind him, rising above the dry grass and hanging in the hazy air. Are we on a human-made trail, or did some goat slice through this endless meadow, creating this tiny track we are trudging on? The heat is growing and I am easing into that state where my body is tiring, but I just march on autopilot, pulled by something toward the top of the mountain. It must be 11 a.m. How long have we been walking? Five hours?   At some point, we stop to drink from our water bottles, which are starting to run low, and Josh mentions that we’re heading east. “We could just keep going and go to Iran,” he jokes. I remark that Iran must be at least a hundred miles away. We keep walking.   We reach what looks like an old, disused road, clogged with large rocks. We decide to temporarily jettison some of our things, cramming blankets and books under a bush and building a little cairn on the side of the road to remind us where the stash is. Then we plod upward, winding up the switchbacks. The ridge has to be close. The horizon — saddled between two peaks — has seemed directly in front of us for a while now. At the top, we’ll turn back. We’ll have to, or we’ll miss Shon. He, the fourth of our group, stayed back in Sulaimaniya to rest up and is going to meet us back where we started this morning. We’ll have a night around the fire before we catch a bus back up through Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, through the flat expanse of the Syrian Desert, and back to our little home, tucked into the beautiful sprawl and bustle of Damascus.   As we walk, I notice a cigarette pack on the ground. There must be people nearby. Maybe we’ll find a village, have some tea, chat with the locals.   We pass an ancient-looking, broken-down stone shack on the side of the road. Sarah wants to turn back; I can feel it. Her energy is nervous, but she is trying to hide it. I’m used to this. She is strong and brave, but she’s often a bit anxious when we leave cities, even when we’re in the United States. She fears things like mountain lions and lone men. But she doesn’t like to let the fear dictate her actions. She also doesn’t like to be coddled, so I let her deal with it herself. Anyway, I want to get to the top.   “Would you rather . . .” she starts to ask Josh and me, before trailing off momentarily. She likes to play this game when we walk and, I think, when she’s uncomfortable with the silence. I love how she always starts it the same way, stating the first clause, then deciding on the second clause while the listener waits. Now she asks, “Would you rather get surrounded by five mountain lions right now, or five members of al-Qaeda?”   I think for a few seconds. “Probably mountain lions,” I say. “We could probably scare them off. I think if we were grabbed by al-Qaeda, we wouldn’t have much of a chance.”   “Don’t you think you could reason with al-Qaeda, though?” Josh says. “Speak to them in Arabic? Tell them you don’t hate Muslims? Tell them you’re critical of our government?”   “I don’t think it would matter,” I say. “But okay. I’ll go for al-Qaeda. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we could try to reason with al-Qaeda. There would be no reasoning with five mountain lions.”   Sarah chimes in. “I would definitely choose al-Qaeda . . .” She pauses. “You guys, I think we should turn back. It’s getting hot and we’re almost out of water.”   Then, as if on cue, a tiny runnel trickles across the road. We don’t have to go back just yet. The water is coming from a little spring, dribbling into a small, cement, human-made basin. I pour the water over my head by the bottleful and laugh as it runs down my skin. I can’t remember the last time I felt so free. Free of time. Free of worry. Free of the heat.   Could I be more content, more happy? We take a break, our insides cooled after five hours of walking, and fall asleep in the shade. I wake to the phone ringing. It’s Shon. He is on a bus and getting ready to come to meet us. How could the phone get coverage way up here? “Just go to the waterfall,” I tell him. “It’s right past the big campgrounds with hundreds of people camped out. There are a bunch of tea vendors and stands selling souvenirs and stuff. From the waterfall, walk straight up the trail and up the valley. We’ll be coming down soon. There is no way we can miss each other.” I hang up as Sarah and Josh stir out of sleep. 2. Josh I could hike all day like this.   “You guys,” Sarah says with hesitancy in her voice. “I think we should head back.”   “Really?” Shane sounds surprised. “How could we not pop up to the ridge? We’re so close.”   I turn to Sarah, thinking of her question about al-Qaeda and the mountain lions. I think of another discussion we had, wondering if Kurdish rebels would be in these mountains of northern Iraq and how nervous she was when we were hiking last night. It seems like she’s wanted to turn back for a while but kept quiet. Then I look at Shane and say, “Sarah feels strongly about this. I think we should talk it through.”   I’m being sensitive to Sarah, but Shane knows me well — he knows I want to reach the top, and he asks, “Josh, what do you want to do?”   “Well,” I say, “I think we should just go to the ridge — it’s only a couple minutes away. Let’s take a quick peek, then come right back down.” Sarah agrees.   Just as we’re setting out, Sarah stops in her tracks. She looks concerned.   “There’s a soldier on the ridge. He’s got a gun,” she says. “He’s waving us up the trail.” I pause for a second and look at my friends. They seem worried but not alarmed. Maybe it’s an Iraqi army outpost.   We stride silently uphill. I can feel my heart pounding against my ribs, but I want to look cool and confident. A different soldier with a green uniform and a rifle waits for us where our road meets the ridge. He’s standing in front of a round, stone building that we had previously looked at and decided would be our destination. He’s young and nonchalant, and he beckons us to him with a wave. He doesn’t seem hostile. When we finally approach him, he asks, “Farsi?”   “Faransi?” Shane asks, then continues in Arabic. “I don’t speak French. Do you speak Arabic?”   “Shane!” I whisper urgently. “He didn’t ask if we speak French. He asked if we speak Farsi!”   As I speak, I notice the red, white, and green flag on the soldier’s lapel. These aren’t Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish rebels, al-Qaeda, or mountain lions. We’re in Iran.   We follow the Iranian soldier along the other side of the ridge to a small, unmarked building. Around us, mountains unfold in all directions. There is no flag, nothing marking the building as Iranian, only a dozen soldiers in uniform milling around the building.   A portly man in a pink shirt starts barking orders. He’s scruffy and he looks like he just woke up. This man in pink must be the commander. His men take our stuff. He stays with us as his soldiers dig through our bags.   He doesn’t take his eyes off Sarah. He gets on his radio and communicates something incomprehensible, but still, he keeps his eyes on Sarah’s body — scanning up and down. I can feel Sarah tensing up between Shane and me, and I’m getting worried.

Editorial Reviews

The best of these stories - and none is written with less than the sharp edge of honed vision - are memory and prophecy. These tell us not where we were but where we are, and perhaps where we will be. . . . It is an ultimate, indelible image of war in our time, and in time to come" - Los Angeles Times"The Things They Carried is as good as any piece of literature can get . . . It is controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd." - Chicago Sun Times"In prose that combines the sharp, unsentimental rhythms of Hemingway with gentler, more lyrical descriptions, Mr. O'Brien gives the reader a shockingly visceral sense of what it felt like to tramp through a booby-trapped jungle, carrying 20 pounds of supplies, 14 pounds of ammunition, along with radios, machine guns, assault rifles and grenades. . . . With 'The Things They Carried, Mr. O'Brien has written a vital, important book - a book that matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone interested in the craft of writing as well." - Michiko Kakutani, New York Times"[B]elongs high on the list of best fiction about any war? .crystallizes the Vietnam experience for everyone [and] exposes the nature of all war stories." - New York Times, "Books of the Century""With The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien adds his second title to the short list of essential fiction about Vietnam. . . . [H]e captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers. But he goes much further. By moving beyond the horror of the fighting to examine with sensitivity and insight the nature of courage and fear, by questioning the role that imagination plays in helping to form our memories and our own versions of truth, he places The Things They Carried high up on the list of best fiction about any war." - New York Times Book Review"When Going After Cacciato appeared out of nowhere to win the 1979 National Book Award, it seemed to many, myself included, that no finer fiction had, as of then, been written in the closing half of the 20th century - or was likely to be in the remaining years to come. The Things They Carried disposes of that prediction. . . . Tim O'Brien is the best American writer of his generation." - San Francisco Examiner'The integrity of a novel and the immediacy of an autobiography . . . O'Brien's absorbing narrative moves in circles; events are recalled and retold again and again, giving us a deep sense of the fluidity of truth and the dance of memory.' - The New Yorker"Rendered with an evocative, quiet precision, not equaled in the imaginitive literature of the American war in Vietnam. It is as though a Thucydides had descended from grand politique and strategy to calm dissection of the quotidian efforts of war. . . . O'Brien has it just right." - Washington Post"Powerful . . . Composed in the same lean, vigorous style as his earlier books, The Things They Carried adds up to a captivating account of the experiences of an infantry company in Vietnam. . . . Evocative and haunting, the raw force of confession." - Wall Street Journal"O'Brien has written a book so searing and immediate you can almost hear the choppers in the background. Drenched in irony and purple-haze napalm, the Vietnam narrative has almost been forced to produce a new kind of war literature. The Things They Carried is an extraordinary contribution to that class of fiction. . . . O'Brien's passion and memory may have been his torment all these years, but they have also been his gift. . . . The Things They Carried leaves third-degree burns. Between itsrhythmic brilliance and its exquisite rendering of memory - the slant of sunlight in the midst of war, the look on a man's face as he steps on a mine - this is prose headed for the nerve center of what was Vietnam." - The Boston Globe"Simply marvelous ? A striking sequence of stories that twist and turn and bounce off each other . . . O'Brien has invented a tone of voice precisely suited to this war: it conveys a risky load of sentiment kept in check by both a chaste prose and a fair amount of comedy. . . . Wars seldom produce good short stories, but two or three of these seem as good as any short stories written about any war. . . . Immensely affecting." - Newsweek"The Things They Carried is as good as any piece of literature can get. . . . The line between fiction and fact is beautifully, permanently blurred. It is the perfect approach to this sort of material, and O'Brien does it with vast skill and grace. ? It is controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd. I salute the man who wrote it." - Chicago Sun-Times"Consummate artistry ? A strongly unified book, a series of glimpses, through different facets, of a single, mysterious, deadly stone . . . O'Brien blends diverse incidents, voices, and genres, indelibly rendering the nightmarish impact of the Vietnam experience." - Andy Solomon, Philadelphia Inquirer"O'Brien has brought us another remarkable piece of work . . . The stories have a specificity of observed physical detail that makes them seem a model of the realist's art. . . . What finally distinguishes The Things They Carried is O'Brien's understanding of the nature of memory." - Miami Herald"This is writing so powerful that it steals your breath. ? It perfectly captures the moral confusion that is the legacy of the Vietnam War. . . . The Things They Carried is about more than war, of course. It is about the human heart and emotional baggage and loyalty and love. It is about the difference between 'truth' and 'reality.' It is about death - and life. It is successful on every level." - Milwaukee Journal"O'Brien's stunning new book of linked stories, The Things They Carried, is about the power of the imagination. . . . I've read all five of O'Brien's books with admiration that sometimes verges on awe. Nobody else can make me feel, as his three Vietnam books have, what I imagine to have been the reality of that war." - USA Today"I've got to make you read this book. ? A certain panic arises in me. In trying to review a book as precious as The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, there is the nightmare fear of saying the wrong thing - of not getting the book's wonder across to you fairly-and of sounding merely zealous, fanatical, and hence to be dismissed. If I can't get you to go out and buy this book, then I've failed you. ? In a world filled too often with numbness, or shifting values, these stories shine in a strange and opposite direction, moving against the flow, illuminating life's wonder, life's tenuousness, life's importance." - Rick Bass, Dallas Morning News"O'Brien has unmistakably forged one of the most persuasive works of any kind to arise out of any war." - Hartford Courant"O'Brien succeeds as well as any writer in conveying the free-fall sensation of fear and the surrealism of combat." - Time"It's a marvelous and chilling book, and something totally new in fiction. A dramatic redefinition of fiction itself, maybe. It will probably be a bestseller and a movie, and deserves to be. It will be nominated for prizes, but I wonder if any prize will do it justice. Maybe a silver star for telling the truth that never happened, passionately, gracefully." - Charlotte Observer"The Things They Carried is more than 'another' book about Vietnam. ? It is a master stroke of form and imagery. . . . The Things They Carried is about life, about men who fought and die, about buddies, and about a lost innocence that might be recaptured through the memory of stories. O'Brien tells us these stories because he must. He tells them as they have never been told before. ? If Cacciato was the book about Vietnam, then this is the book about surviving it." - Richmond Times-Dispatch"Throughout, it is incredibly ordinary, human stuff-that's why this book is extra-ordinary. . . . Each story resonates with its predecessors, yet stands alone. The soft blurs with the hard. The gore and terror of Vietnam jungle warfare accumulate into an enormous mass." - Houston Chronicle"Even more than Cacciato, The Things They Carried is virtually impossible to summarize in conventional terms. If anything, it is a better book. . . . The novel is held together by two things: the haunting clarity of O'Brien's prose and the intensity of his focus. . . . O'Brien's stories are like nobody else's. His blend of poetic realism and comic fantasy remains unique. ? In short, critics really can't account for O'Brien at all. At least in part that's because his Vietnam stories are really about the yearning for peace - aimed at human understanding rather than some 'definitive' understanding of the war. . . . Just by imagining stories that never happened, and embroidering upon some that did, O'Brien can bring it all back. He can feel the terror and the sorrow and the crazy, jagged laughter. He can bring the dead back to life. And bring back the dreaming, too." - Entertainment Weekly"Brilliant. . . O'Brien again shows his literary stuff. . . . An acutely painful reading experience, this collection should be read as a book and not a mere collection of stories. Not since Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has the American soldier been portrayed with such poignance and sincerity." - Library Journal"One hell of a book . . . You'll rarely read anything as real as this." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried carries not only the soldiers' intangible burdens-grief, terror, love, longing - but also the weight of memory, the terrible gravity of guilt. It carries them, though, with a lovely, stirring grace, because it is as much about the redemptive power of stories as it is about Vietnam." - Orlando Sentinel"The author of the National Book Award-winning Going After Cacciato offers us fiction in a unique form: a kind of 'faction' presented as a collection of related stories that have the cumulative effect of a unified novel. . . .The prose ranges from staccato soldierly thoughts to raw depictions of violent death to intense personal ruminations by the author that don't appear to be fictional at all. Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Vietnam experience . . . there's plenty." - Booklist"Astonishing . . . Richly wrought and filled with war's paradoxes, The Things They Carried will reward a second, or even a third, reading. . . . His ambitious, modernistic fable, Going After Cacciato, raised the American war novel to new artistic realms. The Things They Carried is also astonishing-in a whole new way." - Boston Sunday Herald"Eloquent? In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien expertly fires off tracer rounds, illuminating the art of war in all its horrible and fascinating complexity, detailing the mad and the mundane. . . . The Things They Carried joins the work of Crane and Hemingway and Mailer as great war literature." - Tampa Tribune & Times"The Things They Carried is distinguished by virtue of the novelty and complexity of its presentation. Mr. O'Brien is a superb prose stylist, perhaps the best among Vietnam War novelists. . . . The imaginative retelling of the war is just as real as the war itself, maybe more so, and experiencing these narratives can be powerfully cathartic for writer and reader alike." - Atlanta Journal & Constitution"The search for the great American novel will never end, but it gets a step closer to realization with The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien." - Detroit Free Press"His language is simple - no tricks, no phony subtlety, no 'artistic' twists. The writing is as clear as one of his northern Minnesota lakes. . . . The Things They Carried charts out a lot of emotional territory, gripping the reader from beginning to end. This is one of those books you should read. It is also one of those books you'll be glad you did. . . . This book - and these lives - will live for a long time." - Milwaukee Sentinel"There have been movies. And plays. And books. But there has been nothing like Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. . . . O'Brien's vision is unique. . . . All of us, by holding O'Brien's stories in our hands, can approach Vietnam and truth." - San Diego Union"His characters and his situations are unique and ring true to the point of tears. His prose is simply magnificent. . . . Unforgettable ." - Minneapolis Star Tribune"A powerful yet lyrical work of fiction." - The Associated Press"O'Brien's new master work. .. . Go out and get this book and read it. Read it slowly, and let O'Brien's masterful storytelling and his eloquent philosophizing about the nature of war wash over you. . . . The Things They Carried is a major work of literary imagination." - The Veteran"In The Things They Carried, a matchlessly literary book, O'Brien casts away any least pretense and writes straight from the heart. . . . The Things They Carried is an accomplished, gentle, lovely book." - Kansas City Star"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. . . . Beautifully honest . . . The book is persuasive in its desperate hope that stories can save us." - Publishers Weekly"The best of these stories - and none is written with less than the sharp edge of honed vision - are memory and prophecy. These tell us not where we were but where we are, and perhaps where we will be. . . . It is an ultimate, indelible image of war in our time, and in time to come" - Los Angeles Times"The Things They Carriedis as good as any piece of literature can get . . . It is controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd." - Chicago Sun Times"In prose that combines the sharp, unsentimental rhythms of Hemingway with gentler, more lyrical descriptions, Mr. O'Brien gives the reader a shockingly visceral sense of what it felt like to tramp through a booby-trapped jungle, carrying 20 pounds of supplies, 14 pounds of ammunition, along with radios, machine guns, assault rifles and grenades. . . . With 'The Things They Carried, Mr. O'Brien has written a vital, important book - a book that matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone interested in the craft of writing as well." - Michiko Kakutani,New York Times"[B]elongs high on the list of best fiction about any war? .crystallizes the Vietnam experience for everyone [and] exposes the nature of all war stories." - New York Times,"Books of the Century""WithThe Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien adds his second title to the short list of essential fiction about Vietnam. . . . [H]e captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers. But he goes much further. By moving beyond the horror of the fighting to examine with sensitivity and insight the nature of courage and fear, by questioning the role that imagination plays in helping to form our memories and our own versions of truth, he placesThe Things They Carried high up on the list of best fiction about any war." - New York Times Book Review"WhenGoing After Cacciatoappeared out of nowhere to win the 1979 National Book Award, it seemed to many, myself included, that no finer fiction had, as of then, been written in the closing half of the 20th century - or was likely to be in the remaining years to come.The Things They Carried disposes of that prediction. . . . Tim O'Brien is the best American writer of his generation." - San Francisco Examiner'The integrity of a novel and the immediacy of an autobiography . . . O'Brien's absorbing narrative moves in circles; events are recalled and retold again and again, giving us a deep sense of the fluidity of truth and the dance of memory.' - The New Yorker"Rendered with an evocative, quiet precision, not equaled in the imaginitive literature of the American war in Vietnam. It is as though a Thucydides had descended from grandpolitique and strategy to calm dissection of the quotidian efforts of war. . . . O'Brien has it just right." - Washington Post"Powerful . . . Composed in the same lean, vigorous style as his earlier books,The Things They Carriedadds up to a captivating account of the experiences of an infantry company in Vietnam. . . . Evocative and haunting, the raw force of confession." - Wall Street Journal"O'Brien has written a book so searing and immediate you can almost hear the choppers in the background. Drenched in irony and purple-haze napalm, the Vietnam narrative has almost been forced to produce a new kind of war literature.The Things They Carriedis an extraordinary contribution to that class of fiction. . . . O'Brien's passion and memory may have been his torment all these years, but they have also been his gift. . . .The Things They Carriedleaves third-degree burns. Between its rhythmic brilliance and its exquisite rendering of memory - the slant of sunlight in the midst of war, the look on a man's face as he steps on a mine - this is prose headed for the nerve center of what was Vietnam." - The Boston Globe"Simply marvelous ? A striking sequence of stories that twist and turn and bounce off each other . . . O'Brien has invented a tone of voice precisely suited to this war: it conveys a risky load of sentiment kept in check by both a chaste prose and a fair amount of comedy. . . . Wars seldom produce good short stories, but two or three of these seem as good as any short stories written about any war. . . . Immensely affecting." - Newsweek"The Things They Carried is as good as any piece of literature can get. . . . The line between fiction and fact is beautifully, permanently blurred. It is the perfect approach to this sort of material, and O'Brien does it with vast skill and grace. ? It is controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd. I salute the man who wrote it." - Chicago Sun-Times"Consummate artistry ? A strongly unified book, a series of glimpses, through different facets, of a single, mysterious, deadly stone . . . O'Brien blends diverse incidents, voices, and genres, indelibly rendering the nightmarish impact of the Vietnam experience." - Andy Solomon,Philadelphia Inquirer"O'Brien has brought us another remarkable piece of work . . . The stories have a specificity of observed physical detail that makes them seem a model of the realist's art. . . . What finally distinguishesThe Things They Carried is O'Brien's understanding of the nature of memory." - Miami Herald"This is writing so powerful that it steals your breath. ? It perfectly captures the moral confusion that is the legacy of the Vietnam War. . . .The Things They Carried is about more than war, of course. It is about the human heart and emotional baggage and loyalty and love. It is about the difference between 'truth' and 'reality.' It is about death - and life. It is successful on every level." - Milwaukee Journal"O'Brien's stunning new book of linked stories,The Things They Carried, is about the power of the imagination. . . . I've read all five of O'Brien's books with admiration that sometimes verges on awe. Nobody else can make me feel, as his three Vietnam books have, what I imagine to have been the reality of that war." - USA Today"I've got to make you read this book. ? A certain panic arises in me. In trying to review a book as precious asThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, there is the nightmare fear of saying the wrong thing - of not getting the book's wonder across to you fairly-and of sounding merely zealous, fanatical, and hence to be dismissed. If I can't get you to go out and buy this book, then I've failed you. ? In a world filled too often with numbness, or shifting values, these stories shine in a strange and opposite direction, moving against the flow, illuminating life's wonder, life's tenuousness, life's importance." - Rick Bass,Dallas Morning News"O'Brien has unmistakably forged one of the most persuasive works of any kind to arise out of any war." - Hartford Courant"O'Brien succeeds as well as any writer in conveying the free-fall sensation of fear and the surrealism of combat." - Time"It's a marvelous and chilling book, and something totally new in fiction. A dramatic redefinition of fiction itself, maybe. It will probably be a bestseller and a movie, and deserves to be. It will be nominated for prizes, but I wonder if any prize will do it justice. Maybe a silver star for telling the truth that never happened, passionately, gracefully." - Charlotte Observer"The Things They Carried is more than 'another' book about Vietnam. ? It is a master stroke of form and imagery. . . .The Things They Carried is about life, about men who fought and die, about buddies, and about a lost innocence that might be recaptured through the memory of stories. O'Brien tells us these stories because he must. He tells them as they have never been told before. ? IfCacciato was the book about Vietnam, then this is the book about surviving it." - Richmond Times-Dispatch"Throughout, it is incredibly ordinary, human stuff-that's why this book is extra-ordinary. . . . Each story resonates with its predecessors, yet stands alone. The soft blurs with the hard. The gore and terror of Vietnam jungle warfare accumulate into an enormous mass." - Houston Chronicle"Even more thanCacciato,The Things They Carried is virtually impossible to summarize in conventional terms. If anything, it is a better book. . . . The novel is held together by two things: the haunting clarity of O'Brien's prose and the intensity of his focus. . . . O'Brien's stories are like nobody else's. His blend of poetic realism and comic fantasy remains unique. ? In short, critics really can't account for O'Brien at all. At least in part that's because his Vietnam stories are really about the yearning for peace - aimed at humanunderstanding rather than some 'definitive' understanding of the war. . . . Just by imagining stories that never happened, and embroidering upon some that did, O'Brien can bring it all back. He can feel the terror and the sorrow and the crazy, jagged laughter. He can bring the dead back to life. And bring back the dreaming, too." - Entertainment Weekly"Brilliant. . . O'Brien again shows his literary stuff. . . . An acutely painful reading experience, this collection should be read as a book and not a mere collection of stories. Not since Kurt Vonnegut'sSlaughterhouse Five has the American soldier been portrayed with such poignance and sincerity." - Library Journal"One hell of a book . . . You'll rarely read anything as real as this." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Tim O'Brien'sThe Things They Carried carries not only the soldiers' intangible burdens-grief, terror, love, longing - but also the weight of memory, the terrible gravity of guilt. It carries them, though, with a lovely, stirring grace, because it is as much about the redemptive power of stories as it is about Vietnam." - Orlando Sentinel"The author of the National Book Award-winningGoing After Cacciato offers us fiction in a unique form: a kind of 'faction' presented as a collection of related stories that have the cumulative effect of a unified novel. . . .The prose ranges from staccato soldierly thoughts to raw depictions of violent death to intense personal ruminations by the author that don't appear to be fictional at all. Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Vietnam experience . . . there's plenty." - Booklist"Astonishing . . . Richly wrought and filled with war's paradoxes,The Things They Carried will reward a second, or even a third, reading. . . . His ambitious, modernistic fable,Going After Cacciato, raised the American war novel to new artistic realms. The Things They Carried is also astonishing-in a whole new way." - Boston Sunday Herald"Eloquent? InThe Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien expertly fires off tracer rounds, illuminating the art of war in all its horrible and fascinating complexity, detailing the mad and the mundane. . . .The Things They Carried joins the work of Crane and Hemingway and Mailer as great war literature." - Tampa Tribune & Times"The Things They Carried is distinguished by virtue of the novelty and complexity of its presentation. Mr. O'Brien is a superb prose stylist, perhaps the best among Vietnam War novelists. . . . The imaginative retelling of the war is just as real as the war itself, maybe more so, and experiencing these narratives can be powerfully cathartic for writer and reader alike." - Atlanta Journal & Constitution"The search for the great American novel will never end, but it gets a step closer to realization withThe Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien." - Detroit Free Press"His language is simple - no tricks, no phony subtlety, no 'artistic' twists. The writing is as clear as one of his northern Minnesota lakes. . . . The Things They Carried charts out a lot of emotional territory, gripping the reader from beginning to end. This is one of those books you should read. It is also one of those books you'll be glad you did. . . . This book - and these lives - will live for a long time." - Milwaukee Sentinel"There have been movies. And plays. And books. But there has been nothing like Tim O'Brien'sThe Things They Carried. . . . O'Brien's vision is unique. . . . All of us, by holding O'Brien's stories in our hands, can approach Vietnam and truth." - San Diego Union"His characters and his situations are unique and ring true to the point of tears. His prose is simply magnificent. . . . Unforgettable ." - Minneapolis Star Tribune"A powerful yet lyrical work of fiction." - The Associated Press"O'Brien's new master work. .. . Go out and get this book and read it. Read it slowly, and let O'Brien's masterful storytelling and his eloquent philosophizing about the nature of war wash over you. . . .The Things They Carried is a major work of literary imagination." - The Veteran"InThe Things They Carried, a matchlessly literary book, O'Brien casts away any least pretense and writes straight from the heart. . . .The Things They Carried is an accomplished, gentle, lovely book." - Kansas City Star"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. . . . Beautifully honest . . . The book is persuasive in its desperate hope that stories can save us." - Publishers Weekly"