Read If I Die in a Combat Zone (Box Me Up and Ship Me Home) by Tim O'Brien Free Online
Book Title: If I Die in a Combat Zone (Box Me Up and Ship Me Home)|
The author of the book: Tim O'Brien
Date of issue: 1999
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 357 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.3
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Over time, Tim O'Brien has used both art and artifice to shape his fictional accounts of Vietnam. Award-winning novels such as Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried offer up a surreal view of the war: a soldier who decides to walk to Paris, leaving only a trail of M&M's in his wake; a young man who imports his high-school girlfriend to his base camp high in the jungled mountains, only to lose her to a shadowy squad of Special Forces Green Berets and to "that mix of unnamed terror and unnamed pleasure" that was Vietnam. O'Brien's first account of the war, however, was written in the raw, unfiltered months following his return from Southeast Asia in 1969. If I Die in a Combat Zone has all of the eloquence and attention to language and detail that are a mark of the author's work; what is different about it is its straightforward, unembellished depiction of his personal experience of hell.
"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
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Read information about the authorTim O'Brien matriculated at Macalester College. Graduation in 1968 found him with a BA in political science and a draft notice.
O'Brien was against the war but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the "unlucky" Americal division due to its involvement in the My Lai massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in In the Lake of the Woods. He was assigned to 3rd Platoon, A Company, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, as an infantry foot soldier. O'Brien's tour of duty was 1969-70.
After Vietnam he became a graduate student at Harvard. No doubt he was one of very few Vietnam veterans there at that time, much less Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) holders. Having the opportunity to do an internship at the Washington Post, he eventually left Harvard to become a newspaper reporter. O'Brien's career as a reporter gave way to his fiction writing after publication of his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home.
Tim O'Brien is now a visiting professor and endowed chair at Texas State University - San Marcos (formerly Southwest Texas State University) where he teaches in the Creative Writing Program.
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