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Going After Cacciato

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  11,507 ratings  ·  751 reviews
Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

Winner of the 1979 National Book Award, Going After Cacciato captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked this strangest of wars.

In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indoch
Paperback, 351 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Broadway/Crown Publishing Group (first published 1978)
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Jeffrey Keeten
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 Woods back 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 i
Paul Berlin never wanted to be a soldier.

He'd never really had any professional aspiration, other than to play baseball, but when he's drafted into the Vietnam war, a soldier he becomes.

Turns out, he isn't a natural. When he enters combat, he suffers panic attacks that cause him to experience a debilitating shame in front of his peers and his commander.

In his desire to disassociate from his circumstances, Paul decides to pursue a fellow soldier who's gone AWOL, a young man named Cacciato who, in
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Joe Valdez
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
Two stories unfold simultaneously in Going After Cacciato, one I was riveted by and another I felt alienated by. The disjointed nature of the novel didn't come as a shock; Tim O'Brien's masterpiece The Things They Carried was a compilation of harrowing short stories penned between 1975 and 1990 on the subject of the Vietnam War. In this novel, published in 1978, O'Brien's attempt to contrast the external experiences of a young army specialist conscripted into the war while taking the reader into ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
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
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dreamlike story of a quest and an escape from war, of a soldier in Vietnam who decides he's had enough and begins hiking to Paris, and of the soldiers tasked with bringing him back. The horror and absurdity and sheer unreality of war are on full display in this moving novel.
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tim O'Brien is such an impressive American writer. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED is more widely known than GOING AFTER CACCIATO, but this book is also a heavyweight. More of a meditation on madness and war, this book absolutely blew me away. Amazing...
``Laurie Henderson
My first opinion of this book is that I found it disappointing. This 336 page book is the first by the extremely talented, Vietnam veteran, Tim O'Brien set during the Vietnam War.
Since O'Brien had experienced all the horrors of being an infantry soldier I was expecting a gritty account of a soldier's life.

How in the world this brilliant young man becomes an Infantry soldier is puzzling since only the lowest I.Q.'s were steered into this deadly occupation. A soldier with the lowest I.Q. could st
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, vietnam, blog
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
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Going After Cacciato

O’Brien is the pre-eminent writer of the American soldier’s experience in Vietnam. This novel won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1979.

A soldier Cacciato goes AWOL while on patrol in Vietnam. He tells the squad that he’s had enough of the horror and is going to walk to Paris, France. We learn that the squad is determined to hunt him down even across the continent. It shortly becomes clear that the search is really a fantasy in one of the soldier’s head who is jealous o
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

I read this on a whim during a transition period. I appreciated its swagger. The premise is simple and fantastic, an infantryman frustrated by the lack of progress at the Paris Peace Talks, decides to walk there from Vietnam and his peers pursue him to save him from his own idealism.
Apr 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
So I read this book almost 8 years ago in the book format and gave it three stars. And I just finished it in September 2020 in the audible format and I am upping it to four stars. The book was first published in 1978 and apparently the audible was finished in 2011. I found the book to be at times dragging and at other times dazzling. It really improved once I figure it out the switching back-and-forth from real Time to Real imagining. There is not so much of the jungle fighting that you get used ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who enjoyed the novel, Catch-22.
Recommended to John by: Joe
Shelves: subject-vietnam
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
Jan 31, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam

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 ✩
“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
Breinholt Dorrough
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
(Mild spoiler that reveals no details)

I don't think I'll ever get over this book. I did not see this book's resolution coming. I had no idea what I was getting into.

The very mention that this book has a twist, I believe, is a spoiler in itself. Hence the spoiler warning.

Twist is an unsuitable word for what Cacciato does. A twist calls to mind a last second reveal of the true antagonist, or some such detail for shock value at the very end of a story. This book does something so much mightier.

Oct 05, 2009 added it
Shelves: read-2009
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
Michael Moore
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
A compelling critique on war, and particularly Vietnam, but the writing leaves something to be desired.
Oct 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
???? 80s: i have read this only 2 times, over decades, but memories of the book persist. this is the first vietnam book i have 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 betwe ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to billyskye by: Michael Sclafani
Having already read The Things They Carried, I was a little skeptical going into this book. I sort of figured that I’d already been exposed to Tim O’Brien’s best regarding his experience with the Vietnam War and that this would most likely be a less refined draft of that selfsame perspective. Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Going After Cacciato is not only a fantastic offering in its own right, but, perhaps more importantly, an incredibly different one.

While The Thi
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Find a way through.
Nancy Oakes
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-reads
This is the first book O'Brien released and the last one for me to read (I still have his memoir to tackle also).

The Caccicato in the title is a character that is only on the periphery of the story. Our real protagonist is Paul Berlin. He is a PFC in the same platoon as Cacciato - who way day deserts his post. The men are then torn as to whether or not they will go after him. They decide to pursue him.

And then we enter the world of O'Brien in which things may not be what they seem. All along I
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best war and military sic-fi novels 1 3 Aug 24, 2017 02:31PM  
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Cacciato 4 60 Jan 03, 2013 09:29PM  

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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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