Tim o'Brien

Tim O'Brien


Tim O'Brien was born in 1946 in Austin, Minnesota, and spent most of his youth in the small town of Worthington, Minnesota. He graduated summa cum laude from Macalester College in 1968. From February 1969 to March 1970 he served as infantryman with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, after which he pursued graduate studies in government at Harvard University. He worked as a national affairs reporter for The Washington Post from 1973 to 1974.

His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper's, The Atlantic, Playboy, and Ploughshares, and in several editions of The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. In 1987, O'Brien received the National Magazine Award for the short story, “The Things They Carried,” and in 1999 it was selected for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. O'Brien is the recipient of literary awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been elected to both the Society of American Historians and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. O'Brien currently holds the University Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University. He lives with his wife and children in Austin, Texas.

We have collected additional resources for readers who want to learn more about Tim O'Brien.

photo credit: Meredith O'Brien

The Books

The Things They Carried
20th Anniversary

Available in: paperback | hardcover | eBook | Kindle

The powerful and enduring work of fiction about men and war—now with more than two million copies in print.

They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illumniates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

In the Lake of the Woods July, July
  • If I Die in a Combat Zone,
    Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
  • Northern Lights
  • Where Have You Gone Charming Billy?
  • Going After Cacciato
    (National Book Award winner!)
  • The Nuclear Age
  • Tomcat in Love

Tim O'Brien & Nate Fick

On Wednesday, March 24, 2010, Tim O'Brien met with students from Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C. He was joined by Nate Fick, the author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer, to discuss writing and their mutual combat experiences (O'Brien served in Vietnam, Fick in Iraq and Afghanistan).

After O'Brien read a passage from The Things They Carried, the two authors answered questions from Cardozo's students—and other questions submitted online from students across the United States. Their conversation was broadcast live over the Internet, where it was viewed by more than 300 schools—and is now available for viewing at any time.

(This video lasts approximately 52 minutes.)

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