This is the second book by Tim O’Brien that I’ve read; I borrowed both from my brother-in-law. The first was “The Things They Carried” (reviewed here); and both deal directly on the Vietnam War…. I wanted to read these as I have read so much about other wars, and not much about Vietnam – though my own father was involved in the war.
This is a novel, followed soldier Paul Berlin through his experiences – both real and imagined. His unit is following Soldier Cacciato who has gone AWOL – walking from the jungle to Paris. The book really gets into the soldier’s head, and the way he thinks…. explores how to cope with war, death and all the ghosts that inevitably come out to haunt them. The chapters change between “real-time”, the past, and possible futures…. At first it’s not entirely clear which time reality is being discussed… and which is real or not. What is real to a soldier, particularly in that war? By the end of the novel, everything becomes clear and it seems no one is crazy. Or, is it necessary to become a little crazy to stay sane? This book won the National Book Award, 1979.
Going After Cacciato
by Tim O’Brien
Broadway Books, paperback edition 1999
Original Hardcover- Delacorte Press, 1978