Tim O’Brien is from small town in Minnesota. He was born in Austin on October 1, 1946, a birth date he shares with several of his characters in many of his war stories dealing with the Vietnam War. In 1968 after graduating summa cum laude from McAlester College in St. Paul with a degree in political science, O’Brien was drafted into the army, to fight the battle of the Vietnam War. What many people don’t know is that Tim O’Brien was against that war, and was in anti-war demonstrations. He also said in an interview that he went through a “horrid confused, traumatic period, with the trauma of deciding whether or not to go to Canada.” (Website on bibliography page). O’Brien was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the “unlucky” American division due to its involvement in the “My Lai” massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in the Lake of the Woods. He was assigned to 3rd Platoon, A Co., 5th Batt. 46th Inf., as an infantry foot soldier. O’Brien’s tour of duty was 1969-70. (Alvin Merricks). As many of his readers can see by reading most of Tim O’Brien’s books, the Vietnam War had a very drastic impact on him for the rest of his life. But to continue with what happened when he came back from war and received a Purple Heart, he decided to continue his education and go to a school which many people know called Harvard. He enrolled himself in a Ph.D. program in government, and worked for two summers as a reporter for the Washington Post. After working for the Washington Post, he finally started writing his great books. He not only wrote novels, but he also wrote short stories. Some of the titles to his novels are: Northern Lights. New York, Delacorte Press, and London, Calder and Boyars, 1975. Going after Cacciato, New York, Delacorte Press, and London, Cape, 1978. The Nuclear Age. Portland, Oregon, Press 22, 1981; London, Collins, 1986. In the Lake of the Woods. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1994.Tomcat in Love. New York, Broadway Books, 1998. Some of his shorts stories are: The Things They Carried. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, and London, Collins, 1990. Keeping Watch by Night, Night March, Fisherman, Calling Home, Speaking of Courage, and the list goes on. In every single one of his books the Vietnam War is mentioned and talked about. In my opinion this is a great thing, because everyone should know about what went on and how our own American people were killed for nothing. In the book “The Things they Carried,” O’Brien describes how war was. Since his books are fictional he does not use the names of the real people he was with, he used different names to cover them up. This story puts the war in your head and makes you feel what the soldiers felt when they were walking through the forests not knowing what is in front of them, on the side of them, or what is hidden under the ground beneath them. The soldiers had no idea if there was Vietnamese solders sitting up in trees, or sitting in bunkers waiting for the Americans to pop up and starts shooting. In the story he also describes how he left the girl he really likes back home. He even quotes himself in the story by saying, “Whenever he looked at the photographs, he thought of new things he should have done.” (Chapter 1, pg. 5). In this quote Tom describes how much he wished he would have done more to show the girl that he likes her and that he could have “kissed her” or done more to show his emotions. I think that many soldiers who were in the war always thought about their relationships, family, friends, and loved ones who they left behind to fight this pointless war. What made things worse for the soldiers is when they returned from Vietnam and fighting for our county many people ridiculed them, made fun of them, and gave them dirty names such as baby killers, murderers. Instead of the county welcoming back the soldiers with open arms, and an opportunity to fit right back into society, and modern life, people made their lives hell! A very popular movie that came out after the Vietnam War was called Forest Gump. In this movie Tom Hanks plays the role of a Vietnam soldier. This movie shows the ups and downs of the war, and the type of treatment that the soldiers received when they finally arrived home. When I read Tim O’Brien’s books my visual are the senses from Forest Gump, especially when they are fighting and Tom Hanks runs back and starts rescuing this friends who where shot and hurt, and could not move for themselves. It is almost as if the director of that movie read a couple O’Brien books and decided to make a movie out of it.
In today’s society we are going through the same period in time when American is at war once again. Instead of us being in Vietnam we are in Iraq and Afghanistan, if it was my guess, I would say that Tim O’Brien could possibly wrote more stories about the wars going on now, and make a couple extra dollars because I’m sure that the soldiers are experiencing the same turmoil, that the soldiers did what they where fighting in Vietnam. At least as a county we are supporting our troops and still giving them respect when they come back on leave or permanently. Have a couple of friends in the Iraq right now, I cannot imagine going through what the soldiers of today go through and the soldiers of Vietnam went through to protect out beautiful country. Many Americans take things for granted and bash this county for what it is, but we are the only county that is free to do what we want and when we want it, and Tim O’Brien is a true American hero. He fought for what he thought was right by protesting against the war and when he was sent out to Vietnam he still fought for this county to protect it from other people taking it over. Today Americans are doing the same thing. Many are against the war but they go out every day to protect the country for what we stand for and for what we believe in. If it was not for these wars, American might be run differently and just not be the same. Having come from Ukraine when I was a little boy, my parents always told my brother and I that American is the land of opportunity and the only county in the world where one day can go from being nothing to the next day being the world’s most powerful person. Tim O’Brien shows that in this biography and in his stories. He shows that even people who did not want to go away to battle in some other county that they did not know, but for the sake of this county they were willing to die and give up their rights for ours, and for that, we are the strongest and most powerful county in this nation.
Tim O’Brien has written many books and in my opinion became the best war writer of his time. In this writing he puts vivid detail of how the war was and how many lives it affect, he shows strength throughout most of his war book and does not want his readers to forget what happened to our county almost 50 years ago. For that O’Brien is one of my favorite writers and will be as long as he keeps writing about what our own people went through during the war period.