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Going After Cacciato Paperback – Feb 1 1979


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reissue edition (Feb. 1 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385283490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385283496
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,116,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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It was a bad time. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gregory G. on March 28 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is the perfect blend of fiction based on a very-real factual setting for the Vietnam War and a form of 'magic realism' akin to Gabriel Garcia Marquez to tell a powerful story and make a powerful condemnation of the war. What's most impressive is that this book was written before O'Brien had cut his teeth on later more successful books like 'Things They Carried.'
Some reviewers have complained about the distortion caused by the intertwining storylines and shifts in time and focus, but they are not muddled at all and the book is very easy to maintain. This is what elevates the book beyond mere storytelling or fictionalized factual accounts. You can read other reviews for a synopsis of the story - my two-cents is that this book lives up to the hype and works to perfection. O'Brien is one of only two fiction writers still in their 'prime' so to speak and putting out books somewhat regularly that I will look for and buy (other being Phillip Roth).
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Format: Paperback
This is a different kind of war story, one that women can read without being grossed out by all the guy stuff. O'Brien's writing elevates the telling of Vietnam war events to poetry and art, even in the face of bodies blown to bits by land mined. For instance, at one point he goes on for, oh, maybe 10+ pages commenting on the silence, the lack of anything scary happening, the quiet jungle, the unseen and unfelt enemy. And it began to bug them all, making them edgy and crazy and nervous. And still, page after page, he only talks about the fact that nothing happened.
Then, the last sentence of the chapter: When Pederson stepped on the land mine and blew to bits, it was something of a relief.
For my money, that kind of telling of war stories can't be topped.
Read it; you won't regret it. And read The Things They Carried, too.
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By A Customer on Oct. 24 2003
Format: Paperback
This was a boring book to read. It was confusing by flipping between story lines. By the end of the book I just wanted to get it over with. The ending(last few chapters) were sheer torture to read. I have no idea how this book could have gotten any award, or be on any recommended reading list.
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Format: Paperback
Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato (Dell, 1978)
...P>Going After Cacciato is both the story of a troop of soldiers sent to pursue Cacciato, a comrade who deserted, and the story of one member of that troop, PFC Paul Berlin, spending the night in an observation post. For those who haven't yet read it, I won't spoil it by saying how those two stories intertwine. Cacciato has somehow glommed onto the odd idea that it's possible to walk from Vietnam to Paris, and has decided to set out doing just that. The soldiers follow him, reaching a critical point when they cross the border into Laos, and ultimately decide to keep going. They get farther and farther from Vietnam, but find that the shenanigans of the war stay with them pretty much wherever they go; as a Viet Cong officer they meet in Laos tells them, "the land is your enemy."
In that sense, yes, it is most certainly a novel about the Vietnam War and how it sticks in the heads of veterans long after they've left the field (though some of the tricks O'Brien pulls toward the end of the novel undercut that). And it is a good one; the very absurdity of the plot is enough to keep the reader flipping pages. But if one is looking for the definitive Vietnam War novel, one is probably better served searching out Gustav Hasford's brilliant short novel The Short-Timers (upon which the film Full Metal Jacket is based, albeit loosely) or, perhaps, Lucius Shepard's Life During Wartime.
Not to say Cacciato is not well-written, engaging, fun to read, and an overall darn fine book. It is all of those things, and I have spent far more of this review denigrating the buildup than the actual book (as my rating will surely convey).
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Format: Paperback
I had never read anything by Tim O'Brien before "Going After Cacciato", and I had high hopes for this novel ... Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I don't know, maybe I just didn't get it. Yes, there were some moving scenes and some well-written passages, but in my opinion they were few and far between. Yes, the plot was surreal, but it was also flat. I would give this book 2.5 stars if that were an option because I think Tim O'Brien does have some talent. However, this book just didn't do anything for me. I always judge a book based on if I would recommend it to my friends or family, and I cannot think of anyone I know that would truly enjoy this book.
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By M. Auerbach on Jan. 31 2003
Format: Paperback
"Ignore the bad stuff, look for the good." Paul Berlin, our mostly reliable narrator of an unreliable and surreal war, remembers these words from his father when the two of them camped out along the Des Moines river one summer, when the chief threat was probably no more than a mosquito bite. He recalls these words on a night march not long after watching one compatriot die from fright and another couple shot to pieces in a forced tunnel search by their implacable lieutenant. As much as Paul Berlin wants to wake up from the war, the reader is drawn to the vividly sketched details of this dreamscape. There is a surreal quality to Tim O'Brien's writing (rather than wait for Godot, the soldiers chase the ghost of an enigmatic private) that mixes brisk humor with desultory maiming and death. It's as immediate and unembellished as the ground these soldiers walk, crouch, crawl, recline, and fall on; a Vietnam "Catch 22".
O'Brien pretty much dispenses with plot in order to communicate (in penetrating detail) the haze of war. The soldiers straggle through a boobytrapped landscape on their way to Paris, ostensibly to bring back their defected comrade (rendered by O'Brien as a cipher, a Pillsbury Doughboy who should have boarded the bus for summer camp, but instead was shipped to Vietnam), but realize after awhile that Cacciato, in his naive way, is fulfilling their own fantasy of escaping from this unwinnable war - a goading from Cacciato to follow in his footsteps.
This long day's journey into night is lightened by O'Brien's quirkily drawn characters (like trigger-happy Stink Harris and tough, sometimes sly, Oscar Johnson) and the fracturing of time.
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