“The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water.”
This fictional story written by Tim O’Briendoesn’t seem like fiction at all. Although The Things They Carried takes place in Vietnam one can scarcely imagine only slight differences from different wars throughout the ages. The things any soldier might carry to help him through the terrible battles separated by the terrible waiting and/or marching between terrible battles. This is a powerful novel as it gives insight to a very personal part of the soldiers’ war. While they face the enemy they seem prepared for those encounters it is the other, longer periods that test them both mentally and physically.
One of the interesting things is the contrast between this novel and one that I am currently reading about the civil war and the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The fate and thoughts of the infantryman are not all that different. The things they carry differ only in the technology and developments over the hundred years between wars.
This is very well written and I highly recommend for all readers.