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Going After Cacciato
Tim O'Brien
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Going After Cacciato

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,058 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews

"To call Going After Cacciato a novel about war is like calling Moby-Dick a novel about whales."

So wrote The New York Times of Tim O'Brien's now classic novel of Vietnam. Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that m
ebook, 352 pages
Published February 18th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 24, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
"You VC?" he demanded of a little girl with braids. "You dirty VC?" The girl smiled. "Shit, man," she said gently. "You shittin' me?"

I met Tim O'Brien briefly when he toured for In the Lake of the Woodsback in 1994. Along with his signature he wrote on my copy of the book the word "Peace". I thanked him for his service to his country and I can remembered he paused for a moment, just long enough for me to think I'd completely FUBARed the situation. Then he stood up and shook my hand looking me in
May 02, 2009 trivialchemy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me tell you something about Tim O’Brien.

Tim O’Brien can write.

I don’t mean Tim O’Brien can express ideas well, or that Tim O’Brien knows how to make cogent points using the written language. Hell, I can do that. I can wake up hungover, drink a liter of coffee, and crank out an essay with a title like “Intertextuality in Victorian Memoir: the Solipsism of Affect,” or some such mumbo-jumbo, and it’ll make your average literature professor at The Community College of Seriously Misfortuned Acade
May 14, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the whole of human history, I am of the extremely small percentage of males that did not fight in a war nor had my life changed as a result of one. I am extremely fortunate to have been twice lucky: born both where and born when. So whether it is a truth-seeking need to understand the sadness that countless men and women have had to endure, or it is some atavistic genetic tugging that keeps leading me back to these stories, I am addicted to the threnody of War.

Although I will read almost any
Nov 21, 2015 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2014
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.
-- Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato


At the level of the grunt, the soldier, the dirt and the blood, who wouldn't want to run? Who wouldn't fantasize about just dropping everything and leaving the m
Sep 08, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam, blog, war
This book is not for everyone. If you have trouble suspending disbelief or issues with magical realism, walk away now or read O'Brien's The Things They Carried. However, if you can just sit back and enjoy the ride as a master storyteller blurs the lines between reality and fantasy in such a way that there are no hard and fast truths (which is the point in most of O'Brien work), then you will most likely enjoy the experience. Going After Cacciato is less accessible than The Things They Carried be ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First things first. If you want to read a book about the war in Viet Nam, only one, make it this one.

It's 1969, and Cacciato, a soldier in the US Army, has had enough. He deserts, leaving clues for the other men in his unit indicating that he's decided to walk to Paris. Now they're obligated to go after him, to follow him until he's captured. And if that happens to take them to Paris, that's fine with them.

It's 1969, and Paul Berlin is a Private First Class in the Viet Nam War. On guard duty at
May 24, 2007 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading, The Things They Carried, I immediately ran down to the library to check out O’Brien’s earlier writing, Going After Cacciato. And maybe my expectations were too high, but I was very disappointed in this writing. The Things They Carried was written in such a sophisticated manner. Going After Cacciato seemed jagged and forced. I really can’t see what was so special about this book that it was nominated for a bunch of rewards. I can only guess that there was a severe shortage of novel ...more
Larry Bassett
that was one of the jokes. There was a joke about Oscar. There were many jokes about Billy Boy Watkins, the way he’d collapsed of fright on the field of battle. Another joke was about the lieutenant’s dysentery, and another was about Paul Berlin’s purple biles. There were jokes about the postcard pictures of Christ that Jim Pederson used to carry, and Stink’s ringworm, and the way Buff’s helmet filled with life after death. Some of the jokes were about Cacciato. Dumb as a bullet, Stink said. Du
Nov 19, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoyed the novel, Catch-22.
Recommended to John by: Joe
Winner of the National Book Award, 1979.

"To call Going After Cacciato a novel about war is like calling Moby-Dick a novel about whales," - New York Times.

I have a hard time reading war stories or watching war movies and not feeling angry or upset afterward. There are a couple exceptions. Like Terrence Malick's, 'The Thin Red Line.' Or Tim O'Brien's stories. War stories that are about death and horrific violence, but also about life, about falling in love, and fucking, and relationships,
This is a tough book to give five stars to. Not because it isn't worthy, but because it is bound to be misleading. Going after Cacciato begins innocently enough. We meet Paul Berlin, a private in Vietnam and we meet his squadmates and we begin to see the struggles and the triumphs of these men. Then Cacciato, a happy idiot along the lines of Chancy the gardener (from the film Being There) who decides he's had enough and he's going to walk the 8,600 miles to France. Thus begins the chase and thus ...more
Dan Porter
The Things They Carried is still O'Brien's best, in my opinion, but Going After Cacciato is not far behind. The ease with which he elicits emotions and the deftness with which he changes them is amazing. When he describes a chopper ride into a hot LZ you can almost see, hear, and smell the experience. He can make painful passages (like Chapter 44) such an essential part of the story that you welcome the pain. Best of all is his ability to surprise you time after time with subtle twists and turns ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Mike marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Annals of Coincidence, entry #1: I met Kareem a few days after New Year's in New York, at a restaurant we both like. It was a Tuesday; I think it was around 1pm. It was one of those wonderful, finite number of weekdays when I didn't have to work. As we ate and drank beer, Kareem told me about the book he'd been reading and enjoying, The World According to Garp, by John Irving, which I've never read. Heard the title a few times over the years, heard the name John Irving, didn't know one had writt
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
“In battle, in a war, a soldier sees only a tiny fragment of what is available to be seen. The soldier is not a photographic machine. He is not a camera. He registers, so to speak, only those few items that he is predisposed to register and not a single thing more. Do you understand this? So I am saying to you that after a battle each soldier will have different stories to tell, vastly different stories, and that when a was is ended it is as if there have been a million wars, or as many wars as ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Sophia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subjective nature of life and reality has driven people to seek objective counsel in religion, astrology, spirituality, or any other source that claims some kind of sturdiness in a world of uncertainty. Theodor Adorno, a twentieth century philosopher, suggests that literature shouldn’t play to this weakness of the mind for “completeness and continuity” which follows an “epistemological impulse”. Getting at truth means exposing different angles, even if they contradict. “Reality is fragmentar ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, war
A Catch-22 for the Vietnam War, a hallucinatory dream sequence of a novel, alternating between horror in the muck of the rice paddies and jungles and black comedy. It's very well written, and the scenes are stitched together evenly despite ranging from blunt street-talking realism to elaborate flights of fantasy. In the course of its dream-plot (chasing the deserter, who decides to walk from Vietnam to Paris), the book takes on philosophical issues such as whether Vietnam was morally different f ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Similar in approach to The Things They Carried, but not nearly as successful, largely because in trying to get around the problem of how to write a war story about a war as metaphysically unhinged as Vietnam, O'Brien settles here on the weary kelson of the hallucinogenic, it-was-all-a-dream plot that, by its very architectonics, evacuates all the drama from the drama and leaves behind little but the words themselves. For a writer like Pynchon, or Joyce, this might succeed. But O'Brien's success ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Dominic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although Going After Cacciato is a surreal counterpoint to The Things They Carried, it is every bit as eye-opening, visceral, and powerful as that masterwork. And O'Brien can really really write! This is definitely a book I want to reread and study a little more closely. (Some stunning chapters throughout.)

There are two narratives in this novel, one a trippy road novel laced with magical realism and one a gritty look (through flashbacks) at aspects of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. It
Nancy Oakes
Feb 15, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
"What part was fact and what part was the extension of fact? And how were facts separated from possibilities? What had really happened and what merely might have happened? How did it end?"

Normally a book of 336 pages is nothing daunting and usually takes about 2-3 days of reading time. I spent well over one week on Going After Cacciato, filled one entire spiral-bound notebook with notes and questions and went through almost an entire package of little sticky tabs for marking things I wanted to c
Jacob Blevins
Feb 28, 2015 Jacob Blevins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going after Cacciato is a fictional representation of the Vietnam War. It is based around a man by the name of Paul Berlin and his company’s struggles of desertion from the war. This idea of going AWOL haunts the company as they are in search of another member of the company, Cacciato, who in fact did go AWOL. Cacciato one day just laid down his rifle and left for Paris. As the company is in search of Cacciato they find themselves struggling to not leave the war themselves. Cacciato in the novel ...more
Mar 05, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I definitely liked the writing style. O'Brien can be very vivid in his description of very short and sometimes disturbing scenes. For most of the book, I thought that was the best part. It easily outdid anything relating to characters or the main storyline.

By the end, I think that changes and you see what larger point he was trying to get across. It has to do with the obligations people stick to for poor reasons. The U.S. staying in Vietnam for too long, soldiers searching tunnels when it always
Jonathan Briggs
Apr 19, 2012 Jonathan Briggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cacciato's got it all figured out. Rather than spend the rest of the war getting shot at or having to clear tunnels filled with angry Vietnamese, he's going to walk to Paris, 8,600 miles "on the nose." It's a possibility. "He's going up through Laos, then into Burma, and then some other country, I forget, and then India and Iran and Turkey, and then Greece, and the rest is easy. That's what he said. The rest is easy, he said. He had it all doped out." It's a possibility. But there's still the wa ...more
Well, I'm not sure why this one is deemed a classic, but, then again, I didn't read it 30+ years ago, and I'm sure it seemed far more novel and compelling at the time. I'm guessing I ended up with this in my stack after I read Matterhorn (same war, but far longer in gestation), which I really enjoyed, and then A Rumor of War (in which the author suggested that his book was influenced by, among others, this book). I can't say this this book is any more the definitive book of Vietnam than, say, Di ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read military fiction nearly as much as I read military nonfiction, but I had to read a "classic" American novel for 11th-grade English class this year, and the plot sounded interesting, so I gave this a try.

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 what's happening in the world.

Tim O'Brien use
Going After Cacciato's preface is: Soldiers are dreamers ~ Siegfried Sassoon which gives you an idea of the story inside. We follow Spec Four Paul Berlin, Doc, Eddie Lazzutti, Harold Murphy, Stink, Oscar and Lt Corson as they go after Cacciato, who split, gone AWOL and headed to Paris, on foot, from Vietnam. A bizarre mission that at times you wonder if it's really possible. The possibilities. " wasn't dreaming - it wasn't even pretending, not in the strict sense. It was an idea. It was wor ...more
Dec 24, 2009 Lindsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, historical
After reading another book by the author, I decided to try O'Brien out again. The reason I only gave it three stars is because there were points where I was confused in the story. It was disjointed, which I am sure was intentional since you can draw obvious connections to what the soldiers experienced in the war of Vietnam with no clear fighting goals or objectives.

Favorite quote: He was a big man with moustaches drooping to his chin; his hair was black, he was a history teller: "I speak only of
Debbi Mack
Mar 07, 2016 Debbi Mack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-reads
My first Tim O'Brien book was THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, a collection of stories based on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. I was so taken with his writing I decided to read JULY, JULY next. A novel about a class reunion that I thought might be too much like The Big Chill – but it wasn't.

So, knowing (I thought) what to expect, I picked up GOING AFTER CACCIATO. I guess I was expecting something like Saving Private Ryan, but it's not even close to that. In this book, O'Brien once agai
Mar 23, 2012 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite O'Brien. Deserving of more respect than many Goodreaders give it. Not a book of the masses (like Things They Carried.) Not an easy read. Not a pretty read. There is no America here. This is Vietnam. This is the psychological state of soldiers without a choice, in a nasty, nasty, nasty, war. This is AWOL. This is the S*!T.

There was no understanding that war, so why should you understand this book? See, that's the point. It's like magical realism, but it ain't magic, but it is real. I
Ronald Meinung
O'Brien delivers another gem.

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 tr
Eric Althoff
I wanted so badly to like this book, if for no other reason than that "The Things They Carried" by the same author was one of the most searing, piercing and unforgettable books I have ever encountered in all my years. As with the earlier book, "Going After Cacciato" takes place amid the Vietnam War (author Tim O'Brien is a veteran of that unfortunate conflict), but for me it lacked the visceral, immediate sense of humanity that was so endemic to "The Things They Carried."

In brief, "Going" follow
the gift
i have read this only 2 times, but memories of the book persist. this is the first vietnam book i had read, most of my familiarity is through films like apocalypse now. this book is also as fantastic, also as extreme, and the idea that the only escape from a horror is through the imagination, to me this suggests the value of art. there is the wonderful, deadpan recitation of deaths that begin the book. there is les evenements of paris 1968. there is everything in between.
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Book Club: Going After Cacciato 1 2 Jul 13, 2015 11:34AM  
Cacciato 4 57 Jan 03, 2013 09:29PM  
Literary Exploration: December 2010 - Going After Cacciato 24 36 Jan 03, 2011 03:19PM  
How many stories are in this book? 1 18 Oct 28, 2008 06:32PM  
  • The Field of Vision
  • Paco's Story
  • Blood Tie
  • The Waters of Kronos
  • A Crown of Feathers
  • Ten North Frederick
  • The Magic Barrel
  • Chimera
  • A Frolic of His Own
  • The Hair of Harold Roux
  • Morte D'Urban
  • Victory Over Japan: A Book of Stories
  • The Eighth Day
  • Mr. Sammler's Planet
  • Spartina
  • The World Within the Word
  • Kaspar and Other Plays
  • The Oranging of America and Other Stories
Tim O'Brien matriculated at Macalester College. Graduation in 1968 found him with a BA in political science and a draft notice.

O'Brien was against the war but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the "unlucky" Americal division due to its involvement in the My Lai massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in In the Lake of the Woods. He was assigned to
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“Imagination, like reality, has its limits.” 22 likes
“It is easy, of course, to fear happiness. There is often complacency in the acceptance of misery. We fear parting from our familiar roles. We fear the consequences of such a parting. We fear happiness because we fear failure. But we must overcome these fears. We must be brave. It is one thing to speculate about what might be. It is quite another to act in behalf of our dreams, to treat them as objectives that are achievable and worth achieving. It is one thing to run from unhappiness; it is another to take action to realize those qualities of dignity and well-being that are the true standards of the human spirit.” 12 likes
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