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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katherine taveras
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).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Tim O'Brien's novels are always touched by the war in Vietnam and its aftermath. His characters are haunted by their present and past experiences. O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" brought the horror and unease of Vietnam to vivid life, but "Going After Cacciato" goes beyond the basic horrors and unease into the grayer areas of battle. It is a blend of war and fantasy, with the absurd and the surreal mixed in with reality, making any distinction between the two a difficult task.

"Going After Cacciato" is narrated by Spec Four Paul Berlin, a twenty-year-old soldier from Iowa who is afraid to admit just how afraid he is to be at war and to witness the atrocities and deaths he experiences. One day, a soldier named Cacciato decides to lay down his weapon and start walking towards Paris, over eight thousand miles away. Berlin's unit is sent to capture this deserter and bring him back; just as Cacciato steps off the beaten path into the unknown jungles, O'Brien's narrative begins blending reality with fantasy. The trek after Cacciato is a surreal journey through jungle and foreign countrysides peppered with very real danger for soldiers who may not be following orders. Berlin's narrative weaves back and forth between events that happened earlier on (mainly the deaths of soldiers he has known and what everyone thought of Cacciato) and the march towards Paris.

O'Brien is a master storyteller and his own wartime experience in Vietnam has allowed him to examine the war in the most creative outlets imaginable. Through his novels he has been able to recreate the disparity that exits in war between purpose and action, and perception and reality. While the shifts in time are much more liquid than his other works, making it hard to tell the past from the present, "Going After Cacciato" is a sublime and surreal reenactment about the theater of war.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I liked his "The Things They Carried" better (both books the reverberations of the author's experiences in the Vietnam War) though it at times seemed as if it too was searching for significance. To me the literary form "magical realism" is merely a cover for lack of coherence or as a way to segue from one idea or story line to another unrelated one. In "The Things They Carried" O'Brien stresses that the truth or falsity of any war story is beside the point and that might easily have served as the preface to this earlier book. Ostensibly about the pursuit of a soldier gone AWOL heading for Paris and the unit that pursues him some, all or none of the story may be grounded in fact or entirely in the imaginings of one man on guard duty at night in coastal Vietnam. Some scenes are vivid, some ruminations - political and cultural - are engaging but much of the reading was, like the story it presumes to depict, a slog.
An Action Thriller Novel (David Rivers Book 1) - Greatest Enemy :: Blood Oath (The Darkest Drae Book 1) :: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (rpkg) :: The Assassin's Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas :: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home - If I Die in a Combat Zone
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mat calderon
I occasionally found this book difficult to follow, mainly because of the jumps in time. O'Brien uses flashback every other chapter, and the transitions are not always clear. And it was hard to tell whether Cacciato was some imaginary AWOL soldier (at least toward the end), rather than an actual man the soldiers were chasing. Moreover, I got confused when Berlin hooks up with Sarkin Aung Wan, and she accompanies the men for hundreds of miles to Paris. Was she part of Berlin's dream, or did she actually go along with them? I often wondered.
The prose is excellent, almost therapeutic. I enjoyed reading the book out loud while my wife and kids were upstairs sleeping. The writing was smooth and lyrical, the images bold and colorful. For instance, this passage continues to replay in my mind: "...their socks rotted, and their feet turned white and soft so that the skin could be scraped off with a fingernail, and Stink Harris woke up screaming one night with a leech on his tongue." At times I felt as though I was there with the soldiers, suffering with them.
How is one affected by war? Each soldier in Going After Cacciato is affected differently, and O'Brien, himself a Vietnam veteran, shows that some men shrink with fear, others rush forward with clenched teeth, and still others run away. War has a way of doing that, I hear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Of all the books that I have read on the Vietnam War, this is the only one that truly captures the mindset of insanity that makes it a worthy Vietnam testament. Going After Cacciato is an incredible novel, Tim O'Brien artfully interweaves fact and fiction, fantasy and reality, past and present, appearance and truth all so seamlessly that it seems only natural. It is a totally unique novel.
The novel is about an idealistic soldier, Cacciato, who one day decides to leave the war. He abandons his post and heads off to Paris. Then the story becomes more surreal as his squad pursues him through the streets of Mandalay and Delhi and through Kabul and Tehran as they all get closer to deliverance. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Paul Berlin, recalls how things used to be when a young lieutenant was in charge of the brigade, as well as everything from childhood to one particular night on the observation post. The plot begins to play with reality to an increasing extent, but the story remains engaging to the end.
One wonderful thing about this book is its absolute recollection of the life of a soldier. In a book like this that exposes the reader to the true life of a soldier, the details must be present and plausible, and being as O'Brien was a veteran, it is safe to assume that they are, in fact, realistic. However, his insight leads to an intense examination of the life and mindset of a soldier. The soldiers in the story talk like soldiers, but they just seem like real people with a horrible burden thrust upon their shoulders. Also, O'Brien's writing is delightful. Speaking from a purely syntactical standpoint, the way he crafts his sentences is a pleasure to read, even if it describes something horrible in Paul's life.
Although it is not strictly a war novel, the essence of the war is conveyed throughout. Required reading for anyone wanting to understand the war, or see the perfection of the craft of writing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I believe a good novel should not present the details in an obvious manner, but should make the reader examine the details and deduct what happened. If you feel similarly, you are likely to enjoy "Going After Cacciato". Though I do not feel it is Tim O'Brien's best work, it is entertaining and surreal in blending hallucinations with the absurd.

When Cacciato goes AWOL and attempts to walk from Vietnam to beautiful Paris, orders are given to track him down. Cacciato lets it be known that he would go to Paris if given the chance, yet nobody believes he will make it that far. Told from the perspective of Paul Berlin, the trail goes from the battle from to the Middle East before arriving in Paris. The story ends apparently on the hill with Cacciato surrounded. We only know that Berlin is told that it is over.

O'Brien captures modern warfare perhaps better than any other writer. The perspective he gained from his experience in Vietnam adds an intangible quality to his storytelling. You know he was there, and some of the things he saw were like this. This story is fiction, but you have to wonder what parts of the book may not be fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
peter laughlin
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). Tim O'Brien is a solid writer, his characters are well-developed (though some of the supporting cast is two-dimensional; they're not in the book long enough to get a good feeling for them, really, and by the end one understands why this is and finds it somewhat justified), the plot moves along at an acceptable pace, and the surrealism of the premise is original in the extreme. Just don't let the buildup get to you. ****
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rather late in Tim O'Brien's "Going After Cacciato" we read,

"These were hard lessons, true, but they were lessons of ignorance: ignorant men, trite truths. What remained was a simple event. The facts, the physical things. A war like any war. No new messages. Stories that began and ended without transition. No developing drama or tension or direction. No order."

One could picture O'Brien sitting at his typewriter (late at night and frustrated) knowing that men have encountered, thought about, written about, and been tortured and confused by war many times before, but yet still being compelled to write about it, but not really knowing what or how. That there is nothing new to say, and no new way to say it, about something as old as time was clearly a difficult place to start for a writer. Thus, of the myriad of purposes or possibilities of a novel, O' Brien's is to reckon with his experience, to give readers what is there, even if its coherence is not obvious. And when the experience is war, there is ample confusion to reckon with.

At the center of "Going After Cacciato" is Paul Berlin, a grunt in Vietman, not exactly horrified, nor contemplative, nor heroic. He could be, and probably was, any normal chap from any normal small American town. Berlin, if anything, is passive, not really a protagonist, but the departure point of our observation, a portal to the war. And it is from his patrol at an "observation post" that we witness many different slices or episodes of Berlin's experience. What is and isn't "real" in this experience is not quite clear, something the novel itself points out. Only "possibilties" exist. These possibilities make up, among other things, a trek on foot to Paris in pursuit of an AWOL comrade named Cacciato. This takes them through India, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, among other places. Our understanding of Berlin emerges as he is postioned in contrast to his fellow squad members. These include the cocksure Oscar Johnson; Sidney Martin the man of order, rules and will power; Lieutenant Corson, the sympathetic martyr; and Sankin Aung Wan, a source of comfort, confidence, and a possible love interest. Along the way they, their search becomes a lot wider than for Cacciato.

Yet this novel is not about characters. It seems best to read it while watching Berlin's shifting reality, from day-dream to battle, from observation to abstraction. I particularly enjoyed O'Brien's ability to juxtapose the things-as-they-are, raw, "hard observation" of war, with a philosophical inquiry into war as experienced. While O'Brien might call his philosophizing trite, it certainly isn't. He clearly grapples with fundemental questions that no doubt have been asked before (why don't men run?), but only because they are the real mysteries of our existence. What the philosophizing is is refreshingly free from any high brow pretense, which is often used to obfuscate rather than engage essential problems and questions. O'Brien's questions are real, from his own experience. He doesn't need to dress them up.

O'brien's method is not a literary game. I really believe that him to be struggling with his experience, rather than using was as a template for literary wizardry. And when style flows from substance rather than being in search of it, the results are rewarding. In "Going After Cacciato", part of the challenge of war is to recognize which of the endless possibilities actually materialized. One thing that has materialized is a great book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the third of Mr O'Brien's novels I've had the opportunity to read. All set against the backdrop of Vietnam during the war, this one was less of a "war story" then either of the others (The Things They Carried and If I Die in a Combat Zone). A story of one man's journey to Paris, fleeing the war and the soldiers who followed him to try to bring him back. Centered on Spec 4 Berlin, the story is steeped in symbolism describing the trek. The description of the trip on foot is more about the deeper problems the soldiers faced in the war, fighting an enemy that they often couldn't identify, and the reasons they were fighting the war. A difficult book to write about without dropping spoilers right and left.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
margaret kraft
Having recently read Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried", I was expecting a work of similar quality. Alas, I was let down. "Going After Cacciato" is confusing at best as the reader is dragged from the real world to the surreal in seemingly alternating chapters.

On face value, the story concerns Cacciato, a US Army private in the Vietnam War, who chooses to go AWOL and walk from Vietnam to Paris. However, this madly surreal story simply provides the palate for O'Brien to outline some of the horrors of war. And all wars involve horrors. Vietnam was no exception.

By using the technique of alternating between the surreal and the real, I found that O'Brien only succeeded in confusing and often irritating the reader. Surrealism has its place but its use in this novel causes matters to slide into the absurd.

This novel is not the great war novel that other reviewers suggest. It is simply a work that takes too much for granted. Having written one great war novel in "The Things They Carried" does not mean that another work on the same base subject matter will inevitably follow. "Going After Cacciato" is over rated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
loree draude
As an author with my first novel in its initial release, I am a great admirer of Tim O'Brien's GOING AFTER CACCIATO. While I have never been any closer to Vietnam than Honolulu, GOING AFTER CACCIATO captures the insanity of America's Vietnam experience for me. Good men fought the Vietnam War for what they thought were the correct values, and good people opposed the war because of what they thought were the correct values. Tim O'Brien brings these contradictory values to life in this work. Cacciato deserts his jungle post in-country with the intention of walking over 8,000 miles of land to Paris to get those infamous peace talks moving forward. The men of his squad pursue him, soon beyond the world of factual reality. They go on a surreal journey across Asia, Middle East, and Europe, raising more questions than they answer. GOING AFTER CACCIATO is Tim O'Brien's masterpiece, a landmark in contemporary American literature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
"For just as happines is more than the absence of sadness, so is peace infinitely more than the absence of war." This quote from Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato represents the basic theme of the book. O'Brien uses a strange man named Paul Berlin to illustrate the realities and illusions of the Vietnam war. Through Berlin's imaginative trek to Paris he presents views for and against the war. Although the characters and plot are not real, the book leaves a disturbingly realistic impression of war. The book flows like a person's thoughts, through imagination and real events to bring a complete picture of the psychological effects of Vietnam. At times this gets confusing but overall the effect is new and different. And most of all O'Brien shows that although Berlin leaves the war, it is not absent from his life because he has not yet found peace.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary and jon delorme
Hey now, I'll be honest, I have not the patience and much less the time to read a good book. especially one for school. But when I read Going After Cacciato in my American Literature class, I found a book I really enjoyed. I have looked around to buy my own copy of the book, but I have not been able to until now. I love this book for both its engrossing plot as well as the "thrown into the action" effect achieved by O'Brien. I even worte my research paper on the this book. The story of the VietNam War as seen inside the head of one soldier, Going after Cacciato shows the war's effect on the soldier's mind as well as his body. It examines the other factors of war, as far as purpose and causes. If you like war novels or not, you will like Going After Cacciato. Give it a try.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
andrew sheivachman
Cacciato is a member of a U S Army platoon in Vietnam and he goes AWOL.

His platoon take off after him and once this starts the reader is taken on a mystical walk where the platoon walks to Paris to get him back.

So, the book is divided into two parts, there is vignettes of real combat scene's that the platoon is involved in and then there is the ' magic' scenes where they walk through countries and experience lots of things that are metaphors for whats happening in the world.

The writing is brilliant, but I still don't ' get it' anymore this time than when I read it 30 years ago.

To me its very dated and is a real 'child of its time' written in the late 70's, when everyone was still clinging to the 60's.

As a war novel its a bust ,as a novel to me it's the type of novel that would go down well with the literary set for book awards, for that type of reader its probably gold, but its not for me and even if I'm still around in 30 years I won't pick it up again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
prachi rungta
Tim O'Brian "hit the nail on the head" with this book. The theme of the entire book is how war can deeply affect a soldier even after he is done serving. The whole chase is meant to be a dream by Paul Berlin, and how they can get so close to him, but never catch him, to the point of frustration. This novel, in a way is not directly about war, but it shows how war can truly affect a person, making it so it cannot be forgotten by a soldier. I liked the book because upon reading the novel, I had no idea how traumatizing war can be on a human. I give soldiers so much more respect after reading the book, because it really made me grateful that people soldiers are willing to sacrifice their life for our country. This novel is not for the surface reader, because many metaphors occur in this book to further deepen the novel, and to get O'Brian's point across. The book also is set up in a somewhat confusing format that is difficult to get used to. I enjoyed the fact that this book opened my eyes to the fact that many men and women give/gave up their life to for their country during battle, and the burden to forget after battle.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stan mitchell
Tim O'Brien shows why he is one of the truly great writers of the 20th century. Going After Cacciato is a masterfully written novel that works on so many different levels. O'Brien reveals the mental strain and the incredible toll of war by showing how Paul Berlin uses the imaginary journey after Cacciato to escape the day-to-day horrors that he experiences in Vietnam and come to terms with his feelings about them. O'Brien's use of psuedo-flashbacks gives the story a decidedly surreal feel. He flawlessly weaves detailed, eloquent descriptions of the land and actions with "grunt-speak" and harsh depictions of everyday horrors. The resulting mix is quintissential O'Brien and will keep you enthralled to the end. Not just a novel for war story fans, Going After Cacciato should be read by anybody who enjoys literature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As a huge Tim O'Brien fan, who has read everything he has written, I still think that Going After Cacciato is his best book (although The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods provide stiff competition). Cacciato tells the story of Paul Berlin, an ordinary, decent man who tries to do the best he can amid the horrific circumstances he finds himself in in Vietnam. Berlin is lost and frightened at the war. He has witnessed the traumatic deaths of several fellow soldiers. One night, in an observation post by the sea, Berlin imagines his platoon undertaking a long, complex journey after a simple-minded soldier named Cacciato who has abandoned the war--who has simply walked away, intending to hike all the way to Paris.

The novel's chapters alternate between 3 narrative realities: Berlin's disturbing memories of the war, which he tries hard to suppress, the present time which is the night on the observation tower, and the imagined pursuit after Cacciato. It might take readers a while to catch on that the Cacciato chapters take place only in Paul Berlin's imagination. He tries hard to make the platoon's journey after the AWOL soldier as realistic and convincing as he can. But when the men tumble down an underground system of tunnels, falling and falling like Alice down the rabbit hole, readers realize that something odd is going on.

As the night on the observation post progresses, Berlin's most troubling memories arise to wrest control of the story that he is inventing in his head. Fact and fiction begin to bleed together, as they do in O'Brien's later novel, The Things They Carried. Despite Paul Berlin's best attempts to organize his thoughts into a logical, chronological story, the disorder and chaos of the war intrude and shape Berlin's imagined story.

This novel is about much more than the Vietnam War, although it does a great job of depicting the day-to-day life of the ordinary soldier in the war memory scenes. It is a novel that is, finally, about the power of the human imagination. The novel asks whether the imagination is strong enough to overcome atrocity, to create new endings to old stories, to dream up a way out of war itself. While the ending remains ambiguous, O'Brien explores these questions in a beautiful and heartbreaking way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura belle
Although the military sent me to Vietnam to die (my MOS was forward observer and the artillery duel at Ben Het was in full swing), fate sent me to a small command in Saigon instead and I survived. I've read several books about that horribly wrong war, but this is the only one that truly reflects my experience in all of its paradoxical absurdity. God bless Tim O'Bried and to hell with the United States of America and its interventionist wars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Going After Cacciato has some astonishingly harsh, violent observations about war and the men who fight them, but for a "war" novel it has a surprisingly deft touch. There are moving passages about love and friendship, home and domestic life. Really, the full range of human expression about life is explored in this novel, and not merely the situational elements of Vietnam. The imaginative passages of chasing Cacciato becomes for O'Brien an escape valve for the war, a way to play out, in a vast space of complete possibility, what war and peace mean, and its ultimate cost on the people who wage it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
If you read "Going After Cacciato" after reading Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," prepare for a minor disappointment. The novel is at it's best during those stand-alone chapters that read like short tales from "TTTC." O'Brien's meditation on duty and obligation versus the desire to flee is fine, but somewhat light. Written in 1979, it almost feels as if he is being too careful about not offending anyone as he brings up the distasteful subject of the Vietnam War. It would be particularly inappropriate for teachers to assign this novel to their students to understand what the Vietnam War was like for the soldiers who fought it. For that task, I highly recommend THE THIRTEENTH VALLEY by John Del Vecchio and FIELDS OF FIRE by James Webb.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dawn boucher byington
Usually when I read tha various citations of critics on the back of a novel they're way off. But in the case of Cacciato they couldn't have been more correct. Tim O'brien packaged the dreams and hopes of anyone living in an irrepressably miserable situation. I was a bit disapointed with the ultimate outcome of the novel but, as one reviewer here so aptly stated, his prose is excellent. I can't think of any other novels that make me pine to see the places within them. The colors, sensations and experiences are absolutely vivid. This is a must read for anyone. It is certainly the All Quiet on the Western front of our day.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
irena freitas
Further example of the mastery with which O'Brien writes every one of his novels. The words are so beautiful that you forget you're reading about Vietnam. This is a gripping and intensely told tale of personal convictions and soldierly duty. Read this book. Read every O'Brien book. His words are inspiring and thgouth provoking. Hie style is truly original and he has risen to the rank of the greatest writer of his generation. I give this novel my highest recommendation to any one interested in Vietnam or just reading good literature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
scott meneely
I read this book immediately after having read O'Brien's later Vietnam novel The Things They Carried, which I also highly recommend.
The story is gripping, the characters well-drawn, and the descriptions of jungle warfare, the endless drudgery and fearful monotony of the soldier's day-to-day lives, and the adventures they endure make for powerful and unputdownable reading; however I was left wondering what was real and what was only imagined.
Highly recommended, yet not for those who like their plots neatly tied together.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I hadn't heard of the book or the author before I picked it. I read its first few pages and
Was hooked. The main character, Cacciato [how do you pronounce this name?], decides to walk away from the Vietnam war and hike overland to Paris. His platoon follows him.
The book describes their adventures.
The first quarter of the book contains some of the best combat narrative I have read, it describes the trauma, the randomness, the banality, the irritation of involuntarily living cheek-by-jowl with others. This part for me flowed along. I was able to suspend disbelief about the fact that they were on a mission to track down one of their comrades who was walking into enemy territory.
Without giving the story away, there was a point where they came into contact with the Vietnamese enemy, where I gave up entirely. The fiction had become magic realism, there was no going back to credibility and I'm afraid I lost the plot.
I did however persevere and finish, but I cannot recommend it based on my initial impressions. The writing overall is excellent, the characters well-documented, but I cannot follow when the plot doesn't have the pretence of credibility. I would have liked to have liked this book more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
martika cabezas
Although 'Going After Cacciato' owes greatly to Heller's classic WWII novel 'Catch-22,' it is a very worthwhile read in its own right. 'Cacciato' describes, simultaneously, the pursuit of an AWOL soldier interwoven with the musings of a common solider (Spec-4 Paul Berlin) during a full-night watch. Berlin imagines how the war could be escaped (by fleeing 8600 miles across Asia and Europe to Paris) as he relieves the traumas associated with casualties in his unit. O'Brien brilliantly captures the empty, purposeless fumbling of Vietnam with vignettes such as "world's greatest lake country" (crater holes filled with monsoonal rain). The sardonic and cynical humor of the men and the remorseless meaninglessness of the war are sharply contrasted with the occasionally ethereal and drug-like escape that is conducted only in possibility.
Overall, a very worthwhile read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andy sav
Going After Cacciato presented a well written narrative, expressing his view of the Viet Nam War, portrayed by a rifle platoon. To maintain sanity, one soldier (Berlin) muses over their pursuit of a deserter (Cacciato) to Paris.

You realize that it's more or less Berlin's imagination speaking when they fall into a hole somewhere in Laos and make their way underground to a manhole cover in Mandalay. Up to that point, they may actually be going after Cacciato. The story is complex -- emotions of a young man, a stranger in a strange land.

Four stars for solid writing and plot building.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
niina pollari
I really don't want to short-change this novel. It is definitely a true-to-life, highly-charged account of what it was like to be a part of the lunacy that was Vietnam. I like the way that it starts out in the real world and descends into the undergrowth of the subconscious, similarly to Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" and Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket." The allusions to The Naked and the Dead and to Catch 22 are also on-the-mark. An even more contemporaneous comparison would be to "Saving Private Ryan," obviously, though the motives of the reconaissance teams would not be comparable, morally speaking.
What prevents the five star award is that I've read another Vietnam War book that is so far superior to this account, that I can't in good conscience award them equal status. Meditations in Green, by Stephen Wright is so superior in terms of scope and artistry that I have to reserve my full endorsement for that novel. O'Brien is a highly competent author. On the other hand, Wright just might make it to the highest rungs of the literary ladder, breathing the same air as Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway as far as American mountaineers are concerned. O'Brien may have to be content with breathing the slightly thinner oxygen of Mailer and James Jones. Which might not be so bad, since most of us mere mortals are down here taking in corbon monoxide.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
deborah kasdan
he synopsis says that Tim O'Brien's novels blur the line between reality and fantasy. No line exists in this endeavor. With a few paragraphs at the beginning and a few paragraphs at the end of "Going After Cacciato", the story is entirely a quixotic landscape suspended and book-ended between the fragile (bordering on the shallow) vault of the imagination and the imagination. There are repetitive spelling errors, mainly Vietnamese words (Li Van Ngoc not Li Van Hgoc) and Vietnamese phrases (Mau len not man len), but the rest of the writing flows fluidly, like walking into a dream. Because it is a fictional account (even if it is not fictionalized) of the war, the detailed accounts of the war seem superficial, poorly fleshed out. Insert rice paddy here, a few Vietnamese provinces there, and a M-60, and it would be a cookie cutter account of any war taken in any parts of Asia. I do not think it deserves the National Book Award. Dialogues are definitely the book's strength, but writing on the language level is at best pedestrian. I think a 3 is being generous. Throughout the book I kept on comparing this book strangely to the movie "Harold and Kumar: Go to White Castle." Replace Castle for Paris. Where fantasy instead of bordering on fantasy-- it borders on silly absurdities and tacky weirdness.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michael e
"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. Rather than one long descent into hell, the reader is kept on his toes as O'Brien jump cuts between different time frames, delivering alternating moods and foreshadowed action parceled out with the patience of a surgeon who knows how deep to cut and when to remove the bandages. You trust him not to lop off your leg....and then you hit a mine in the text. The best fiction lets you stand in; here you get a ringside seat and the certain knowlege that all bets are off for these characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ceres lori
Hey all you book readers! Try reading, "Going After Cacciato," by Tim O'Brien. It's a great war novel about a group of soldiers that are ordered to chase down a deserter. The setting starts in Viet Nam, continues on into South Asia, and finally ends up in Italy. Take note; this is all on foot. Tim O'Brien uses a lot of humor in this story. It sure kept me reading. If war novels don't interest you, or bore you to death, Tim O'Brien will change all that. He changed my attitude about reading. Before I discovered his work, I didn't even think about putting my hands on a book. I will admit, there are a lot of authors and books out there that aren't that good or don't fit your taste. All you have to do is match yourself up with one or more. The results are astounding. I have faith that O'Brien's writings can appeal to the young people out there who suffer from this anti-reading syndrome.
Believe it or not, O'Brien actually helped improve my writing skills. From reading so much, I developed composition skills that have breezed me through the last two years of high school with an A to B grade point average. I'm not trying to brag, but going from a fail to an A student based on reading alone made a reader and a believer out of me. So I leave you with this review in hopes of getting through to at least one person. And remember, a book a day keeps the illiteracy away.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
barry levy
I thought "In the Lake of the Woods" and "The Things They carried" were amazingly powerful works. But everyone said "Wait until you read Cacciato!" Well, I read it. What the hell? Parts are really good: the troop in Iran, the subplot involving the troop's dead lieutenant, the gradual evolving of Cacciato's character. As a whole, however, there was no coherence or cohesiveness and just a little too much mysticism. Characters using fantasy to overcome grim reality seem to be an important part of O'Brien's work but he pulls out all the stops here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Going After Caccaito is a smart and original war novel that while at times chaotic, both in plotting and language, gets its characters and energy so right, that these annoyances can be overlooked easily.
9/10. Great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
peggy lo
With this novel, Tim O'Brien captured the spirit of the frustration, camadarie and confusion of the war in Viet Nam as seen by the foot soldier. Cacciato, the protagonist of the novel becomes the driving force of a quixotic attempt to rescue him desertion. In the loyalty of the platoon, the care of one in the relationship to all, mark this novel.

At once surreal, graphic and hyper realistic, Going After Cacciato is a book that marked Tim O'Brien as a major American writer. His depictions of the carpet bombed former jungles, the mindless, twisted jungles, and the trek of the platoon as it chases Cacciato across two continents will rewards its reader.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ashleigh bowers
Tim O'Brien is recognized as one of the premire Vietnam writers for good reason; his prose is exceptional. And for that reason alone I can recommend this book. As for content, I was disappointed. The tone is down, way down. If it's a rainy day and you're in a funk, don't go near this book. And maybe that's his thing--the glass half-empty, woe is me approach to Vietnam. As this is the only book of his I've read, I can't confirm that. But because I read this book first, I am not inclined to read the others. If you find beautiful prose more entertaining than coherent content, this is your book. Personally, I want both for my money.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien is a very well written book. Some may find the flashback memory writing style a bit confusing, but I think it adds a positive literary element. The reader learns a lot about the Vietnam War through Paul Berlin's, a soldier fighting the Commies, memories.
Tim O'Brien uses satire to get his point across sometimes. In one scene, Berlin and his buddies are somewhere in China and are talking about their experiences in Vietnam. " It was such a wonderful war they should make it a movie." One soldier made this sarcastic comment to a Chinese official, who was very interested in their part of the war.
This book shows many aspects of the war. It shows mostly the horrors of war, the deaths and mindless destruction of so much, just to wipe out a form of government. In this war, new war tactics were being used, and they caused horrible deaths to innocent citizens. Everyone knows the Vietnam was the worst war in American history, but this book shows why.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ben whitehouse
This is undoubtedly O'Brien's best wrok, and a masterpiece on war -- ranking up there with War & Peace, All Quiet On The Western Front, and Catch-22. However, it may not appeal to everyone, as it requires the ability not to be literal, and to mentally blend fact and fantasy (not unlike the "magical realism" of Gabriel Garcia Marquez). If you are not that type of reader, you may prefer the also excellent but less experimental "The Things They Carried." I first learned of the novel many years ago, from an unusual DJ named Vince Scelza, who also did book reviews during his show. His recommendation is one of the many things for which I owe him thanks.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Despite an ending that to this reviewer was less than satisfying, this novel of the Vietnam War depicted fully-realized, interesting characters that captured the futilty and horror of war. All in all, a satisfying reading experience.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
joni stiling
And so I bought it. Not sure why it is considered this great book. It starts out well enough. But something gets lost on the way. I'm not sure what. But maybe there was nothing to lose to begin with...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marc buwalda
The main character, Paul Berlin, was a regular kid that was floating through life without clear purpose. When he dropped out of junior college, he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.
It is from Paul's perspective that we experience "Going After Cacciato."
As mentioned in the other reviews, the story is told in three interweaving parts. The different storylines are clearly delineated by the chapter titles, so don't let this method of story-telling scare you off.
I would recommend that you read this book with a friend. There are many points of discussion, including whether or not certain events take place entirely in Paul's imagination. Another interesting topic is what, ultimately, is more important: your opinion of yourself or the opinions that others hold about you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
"For just as happines is more than the absence of sadness, so is peace infinitely more than the absence of war." This quote from Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato represents the basic theme of the book. O'Brien uses a strange man named Paul Berlin to illustrate the realities and illusions of the Vietnam war. Through Berlin's imaginative trek to Paris he presents views for and against the war. Although the characters and plot are not real, the book leaves a disturbingly realistic impression of war. The book flows like a person's thoughts, through imagination and real events to bring a complete picture of the psychological effects of Vietnam. At times this gets confusing but overall the effect is new and different. This is not just about war either. The themes of non-conformity and finding inner peace could be applied to many aspects of life. And most of all O'Brien shows that although Berlin leaves the war, it is not absent from his life because he has not yet found peace.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kristin luna
I found this novel to be interesting and well written but not a great book by any standards. To put it in the same league as other (anti-)war novels like "All Quiet on the Western Front", "The Naked and the Dead" or even "Slaughterhouse Five" is a grave disservice to those true masterpieces. Those books merit a "10" rating. By comparison a "7" is generous for this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is the second book I've read by O'Brien in the last couple of weeks. The character development is great. I can really appreciate the imagination of a soldier on endless guard duty, fantasizing his way out of the war.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jill seidelman
This book is really intense. I mean when you read it, it makes you feel like you were one of the American soldier fighting for your country and your life. Every chapter has a very exciting and keeps you on your toe scenes. This is why I think this book compares to the movie Predator. This book is simply breath taking and a Vietnam war story masterpiece......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darren worrow
This novel has unfortunately been lumped in with other writings about the Vietnam Waw, being overshadowed by books which more completely and accurately describe that experience (e.g. Dispatches or even O'Brien's other works). But get beyond that simple limited interpretation of this novel, and it becomes a latter-day Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with Cacciato as dim-witted but idealistic Tom Sawyer and Paul Berlin as the cynical but good-hearted Huck Finn. Too bad that a movie hasn't been made out of this; it wouldn't even have to involve the Vietnam War. But in the event that never happens, take the time to read this novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Vietnam war continues to bring back painful memories to millions of Americans. Few artists have captured the essence of the war as accurately as Tim O'Brien. In his book, Going After Cacciato, O'Brien tells the tale of Spec Four Paul Berlin and his squad's pursuit of an AWOL soldier named Cacciato. Cacciato decided to leave the war and head for Paris...conveniently located 8,000 miles away. As the squad chases after Cacciato, O'Brien dives into Berlin's first experiences with the war, exposing the fear, courage and attitudes of everyday soldiers. While appearing humorous in nature, which it is at some points, Going After Cacciato is much more than a lighthearted adventure. It takes on the heavy subject of war and its effects on every day soldiers with an intelligent zeal and brutal truthfulness.

O'Brien structures his book in an odd manner, jumping between the chase after Cacciato and flashbacks to various "war stories" involving Berlin and his squad. While at first somewhat jarring, as he usually jumps right when some major action is occurring, eventually it makes for a more interesting and exciting read. The war stories and the Cacciato plot work well together, mixing action sequences and thoughts on war and warfare, so that every chapter (or every other chapter) is fresh material. The inclusion of the war stories also accomplishes two things: 1) It includes Vietnam in the novel, as the majority of the Cacciato sections of the book occur outside of Vietnam; and 2) It gives O'Brien a chance to explore the lessons of war, an opportunity which he takes at every turn.

The majority of the lessons learned in the "war stories" involve the death of a squad member. It's no secret that they died, in fact many of the deaths are alluded to from very early on in the book. Their significance comes not from their death, but from the circumstances surrounding it. From simple lessons such as, " `don' never get shot' " to brutal truths about squad assimilation, and the disturbing yet-sadly-ironic "ultimate war story", O'Brien covers the full threshold of emotions and experiences a soldier can go through during war time. O'Brien's major themes become apparent through these stories as well. His comment on loyalty, procedure, and the value of human life, for example, is brought up repeatedly through story of how "Lieutenant Corson came to replace Lieutenant Sidney Martin." In addition to bringing up his desired themes through the war stories, O'Brien also utilizes the character of Paul Berlin to illustrate the books numerous broader subjects.

Paul Berlin will often question the war and life in general through a stream of consciousness at different points in the novel. These pages take the readers inside the mind of a soldier where they experience his thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. Here Berlin considers the disturbing events he and the others witness, "They did not know how to feel. Whether, when seeing a dead Vietnamese, to be happy or sad or relieved...They did not know how to feel when they saw villages burning. Revenge? Loss?...They did not know good from evil". Here he questions the issue of "courage. How to behave. Weather to flee or fight". These pages are often the most intellectually stimulating, and the most haunting. The conclusions that Berlin reaches reveal only a small portion of what it was like to be in Vietnam, but they become some of the most memorable pages within the book.

One of the most appealing aspects of the book is how is it is to read. O'Brien's style is quickly digested and helps to create vivid images within one's head. His ability to paint a picture of war and warfare puts the reader right there with the squad. In one particularly invigorating part of the book, the squad is dropped in a "hot zone". O'Brien repeatedly describes the aircraft gunners firing over and over, "The gunners fired and fired. They fired at everything....and the gunner kept firing...the gunners kept firing", vividly creating the effect of machine guns blazing as the men enter the combat zone. O'Brien's humor also comes out in his descriptions. One of the characters describes the rain-and-human-filled bomb craters a war zone as the "Worlds Greatest Lake Country" (eventually Cacciato attempts to go fishing in such a crater), providing a perfect sarcastic description of the soggy, bombed out fields that comprised the Vietnam battle zones.

For all that Going After Cacciato accomplishes, it has only one fault: It attempts to tackle too many ideas at once. The lists of themes and ideas that O'Brien explores in the novel number in the 20's, and that's a conservative estimate. His attempt to comment on so much in only 300+ pages leaves the reader a bit confused and overwhelmed. If O'Brien were to scale back on a few of his ideas, he could more thoroughly develop each one, thus making the book more effective as a whole. That aside, Going After Caccito is absolutely marvelous. An intelligent blend of humor, drama, memorable characters, situations, and a thorough discussion on the effects of war, Cacciato is more than deserving of it's praise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Going After Cacciato contains many elements of reality from the Vietnam War, in which the characters are set in this environment filled with death, loneliness, and war. O'Brien portrays this journey through forms of elaborate use of description in this novel. He describes the jungle setting and many other details of this mission so in detail that the reader is visualizing themselves pushing through the overgrowth in search of this so-called man, Cacciato. The novel Going After Cacciato portrays the division of the reality of war and the fantasy state of mind of the soldiers and is a good adventure through the cruelty and reality of war.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
comtesse despair
Tim O'Brien is a really well defined writer. "Going After Cacciato" has to be his most well done novel yet. The characters are well described,and the langauge O'Brien uses makes all the scenery of Vietnam seem real. This is one of the best books I've read for a long time
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fatima f
Personally, I found this book fun to read. Centered around Paul Berlin, a soldier in Vietnam, him and the squad are ordered to retrieve an AWOL soldier named Cacciato, who gets the idea he wants to walk to Paris; which happens to be 8,000 miles.

O'Brien has a way of "painting the picture" for the reader. For instance, six pages consist of detail about a quiet forest. O'Brien likes to forshadow, and use flash backs as his literary devices.

Berlin, tired of the war, wants to escape using his imagination. Him and the others, including Sarkin Aung Wan (Vietnamese "girlfriend"), like the idea of walking to Paris. Through many trials and tribulations (inprisonment by the government because of no passports, ambushes, etc.), the team trecks on. Many times Cacciato is almost caught, but he sets numerous booby-traps to escape his hunters.

The story is a war-fiction. It takes place in three parts: first is the war itself, Paris, and the Observation Post. I would definetely reccomend reading this book. I'm not going to ruin the ending, but Tim O'Brien is today's M. Night Shyamalan.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dela dejavoo
O'Brien's work "The Things They Carried" is one of my favorite novels. Therefore I was eager to read "Going After Cacciato". After reading the novel I found myself disappointed. I had hoped to read a work on par with "The Things They Carried" or possibly better. Unfortunately this was not the case. O' Brien is an exceptional author therefore the work is worth reading, however it does not live up to the standards I would expect O' Brien's work to reflect.

The work is successful in some areas. O' Brien creates vivid scenes through his use of symbolism and surrealism. The novel illustrates the struggle inside oneself between dreams and reality and the difficulty one faces when trying to take an idea and build a future on it. The principle character and his journey after Cacciato lead the reader through various events that not only reveal many truths about war but about life as well. For these reasons the novel should be read, however the reader must not focus too greatly on the hype that surrounds the work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book depicts the mental and emotional landscape of the Vietnam war with subtlety, brutality, fantasy, dark humor, and a crafted blend of clarity and confusion (among lots of other things you will just have to read the book to find).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Loved it. What a great story. My only disappointment was I would have liked the story to go into detail in some spots where it condensed but I realize that would have made the book very long. In my view no bad thing. Read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary smith
Going after Cacciato is a complex story that has three distinct parts. The first being that of Paul Berlin setting out on the mission of Going after this other soldier named Cacciato. The entire book takes place in one night as Spec Four (military name of Belin) stands the watch on the first night of looking for him. He remembers flashback stories of when he first arrived in Vietnam, then jumps to his imaginary story of chasing Cacciato all the way to Paris, and finally back to reality with what he is doing on the watch itself. Beautifully written and very moving, Going after Cacciato is well worth the read!!!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica reeves
I rated this book a three based on O'brien's The Things They Carried. I thought that book was a five, but was disappointed with Going After Cacciato. It was great and very interesting in the beginning, but later trailed off and was boring and confusing. I felt O'brien left too many holes to be filled in with our own imagination - why! It's his story, his writing, why not tell it like it is man! Stop sending us dribbling a basketball backwards down a football field man! The imagination and pretending that Berlin used a lot in the book was very good, but it also added to the confusion and easily threw me off. If you want to read both The Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato, read Cacciato first, otherwise it will only be a disappointment.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I thought the story was at its best when it played it straight. The description of the helicopter ride to Landing Zone Bravo; particularly the faceless, firing, door gunners and "spent shell casings rolling into piles as the Chinook banked and maneuvered down..." were best examples of powerful and thought provoking words.
I wish the author would have remained in factual, insightful places like these rather than divert me on a fanciful trip to Paris. However; I would still recommend the book for its flashes of brilliance.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sangya gyawali
Expecting the best of O'Brien after reading his other novels, I was sorely dissapointed. Something which I cannot put my finger on and that was so successful and in both of the aforementioned books seemed to be lacking in this novel. Perhaps this novel contained, at times, too much narrative. O'Brien's powerful themes were wasted in this book, rather IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS was a better and more artistic display of responsiblity, perception, and misperception as themes, while THE THINGS THEY CARRIED was more shocking and raw in terms of the Vietnam foot soldier's life and mentality. Though worth the investment of time, a better experience could be extracted from one of O'Brien's other novels.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
breonna hiltachk
"Going After Cacciato" is a highly rated book. It's a national book award winner and dubbed, " A novel of great beauty and importance" by The Boston Globe. Tim O'Brien is a highly rated author as well, having won more than just this award and the interest and loyalty of many readers. This book is no acception.
"Paul Berlin paid attention to detail. He saw sunlight that lasted until dusk. He saw grain unloaded from small river junks. He saw a monkey dancing at the end of a leather leash. He saw the river darken, the sky turning pink, the city beginning to light itself. And he believed what he saw."(p104)This is very representative of O'Brien's writing style and the style of the book. To me it just points out how little faith soldiers have in a war. They hope for a god, but they don't believe anything until they can see it.
The reason I only this book three stars is not because of the writing itself, and certainly not because of the story. I just personally dislike the way in which the book tells its story. You find out information just before you need it and it has three stories going on at once. It's close to impossible, at some points, to tell when the stories become separate because they all seem to bleed together.Also if you know anything about war, parts of the tale are highly unbelievable, and the end comes as no shock. I would reccomend that this book be read by persons having patience and willingness to read the book through to the end, despite its slow start.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric knapp
I'm a Junior in High School and recently had to read a short story by Tim O'Brien and enjoyed his writing, so I grabbed a copy of "Going After Cacciato" and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am an avid reader and definitely couldn't put the book down. Even if you know nothing about war or Vietnam, I recommend you grab this book and snuggle up to a cozy place in your living room and let Tim O'Brien take you to a different time and place.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is one of my favorite novels of all time. I first read it in college, nearly fifteen years ago, and recently picked it up again. It can be read on many levels: a Vietnam story, a discourse on the absurdity of war, a study of human nature, etc.. O'Brien is a gifted writer, and while I also enjoyed The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods, this book remains my favorite.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
robin schluter
I was totally confused through most of the book. But I really liked it. I was drawn into the book. I couldn't and still can't figure out if this whole thing happened or if it was in one soldier's imagination (in the book).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mandy robidoux
I picked up this book because I am a huge fan of Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and "If I Die In a Combat Zone." Since I found both of these books to be particularly interesting and enjoyable to read, I thought that "Going After Cacciato" would be enjoyable as well.

Sure, O'Brien's wonderful writing style definitely shines through during some parts: his use of description, the reader's connection to the characters. However, overall I found the book to drag on for far to long and confuse me with the constantly changing places, people, and points of view. I was surprised that this book has gotten so much more positive recognition than O'Brien's other works, because it really didn't do too much for me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sean cuthill
This is a decent Vietnam story. If you want a gory book like the movies make it this is not for you, however- if you want a book that has an original plot and good characters, read it. Tim O'Brien has a first hand take on war and reveals his experience through ideas in this book. It isn't a book you can read in one sitting but it is a decent read for a boring weekend or plane flight.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
janet dickson
This book was very typical Tim O Brien and I thoroughly enjoyed the action as well as the emotional ordeals that the author puts the characters through. THis is a great book and to anyone that hasn't read Tim O Brien before I would recommend this book along with the almost perfect "The Things They Carried"
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jana marie
Whether or not this novel is important as a Vietnam novel seems to me to be irrelevant, or at least unimportant to me. "Going After Cacciato" is not simply an allegory of war, but also of the human instinct to join a group or cause. Cacciato represents individualism, self-interestedness, and idealism . He is, himself, and ideal or an aspiration. O'brien's novel changed the way I understand my reality. It challenged me to think outside of the group I was a member of and consider the legitmacy or appropriateness of membership. Read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
leland rowley
This book is about the Vietnam War...but is also not about the war, but rather a trek to Paris that ends up being one of those "it was all just a dream" scenarios. Kinda hate that.

Having said that, this book is fast paced and very unpacked so it's an easy and pleasant read. I used this one when I was on the exercise bike and it usually kept me on longer than I'd usually go, so it's not all that bad.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
eileen charbonneau
School decided to suggest this book. It was the ONLY war novel on a list of like 30, mabye 20 books. So I decided to get it. I found the worst part is basically the rapid changes that appear in the book.
Paul Berlin is pretty cool, he was the only character I actually liked though. Oscar was alright, Doc was fine, and Eddie was alright too. Cacciato is boring, he isn't even really a main character. As for the changes, there are so many, and there are things left out. Ok so sometimes they don't even tell you if a guy dies, and like 2 chapters later you read about him and think he is alive. Then you learn that you just went back in time. Huh? Alot of times in the book you will be reading, thinking you got it, then they talk about something completely different, and don't even tell you that it is a flashback of Paul Berlin's life. First page of the book tells you Stink woke up with a leech on his tounge, never read it in the book. Also, Stink is like a jumpy character. At one point he slaughters a water buffalo and just shoots it until it is mutilated. A few chapters later, we learn that Stink HATES blood, and he can't stand the site of it. Excuse me? You just told me Stink devoured a water buffalo with bullets and watched as skin flew off, now Stink hates blood?
The action is the thing that let me down though. There is practically none. Water buffalo getting shot, guy shooting helicopter, ending fight, that is it. Those 3 things are the only fighting in the book, and the only action. The first one is one page long, the second one is like 3 pages long and is extremely confusing at first, and the third one leaves you with no ending only that a guy was shot in the stomach. Lets not forget that explosion of the jail, oooo that was not spectacular. This novel doesn't really have anything to do with fighting, and is really just another depressing book. I mean it isn't depressing as some others, but alot of it is about the hardships they face.
The ending is unsatisfying, and is almost a way of screwing over the reader. You read the whole book, then learn that there was really no point to reading the book, cause there is no ending to what the book was about. Confused? Wait until you read Going After Cacciato.
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, hold up, you gave the book 3 stars, Mdizzio." Sure I did, that's because it used foul language, im not trying to promote the use of foul language, but it was a definite pick me up over the stories in school that never used any real language. Well, with the exception of Huck Finn. I really just like how the characters don't act like angels 24/7.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
graham fortije
Going After Cacciato is a fiction novel of the Vietnam War. A group of soldiers tried to catch a run away soldier who filled with dream of going to Paris. Searched and followed behind him with the adventures, sadness, love, hope, and and understanding of people in different ways. The book confused me bacause an author set up a story that work back and forth, but I would recommend that you read this book since the main point of this book is to believe in hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I wept with the sudden glory of it.
When I first read this book, I wept for the total despair of it.
When I first read this book, I wept for the hope it gives.
When I first read this book, I wept.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bonnie burlton
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
krista bratton
When I fisrt began reading, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the book. Later that same day I couldn't leave the house because I just needed to know what happened to them. O'Brien's language is clear and crisp. I reccomend that everyone reads this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
terri balside
this book is very well written and enjoyable. It isn't a book about war at all. There are 3 very interesting and seperate stories being told simultaneously.It is still very organized even though there are 3 different stories being told. Highly recommended book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joshua west
Truly the best book I have ever read. So gripping you will never want to put it down, even when you are done. So surprising I had to read the ending three times! So amazing you will want to read it over and over.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ire ne
On March 25, 2003, I read The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien, and thought it a superlative book, rivaling that other great book of Vietnam short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. I have read 55 winners of the National Book Award for fiction and since this won that prize when I found the book I looked forward muchly to reading it. But I was totally disappointed to find it is a fantasy, bearing no relationship to anything actual--the Vietnam soldiers go in a tunnel from Vietnam to Burma and on to Paris, while at the same time slogging in Vietnam. I read all the good things said about the book and it reminds me of the people who were impressed by the Emperor's new clothes till a little boy said he had none on. I suppose I am as dumb as the little boy but I honestly could see nothing worth being enthused about in this book.
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