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Publisher's Summary

"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 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 Indochina to the streets of Paris.

In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, Going After Cacciato stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately, it's about the forces of fear and heroism that do battle in the hearts of us all.

©1999 Tim O'Brien (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"As a fictional portrait of this war, Going After Cacciato is hard to fault, and will be hard to better." (John Updike, The New Yorker)
"Simply put, the best novel written about the war. I do not know... any writer, journalist, or novelist who does not concede that position to O'Brien's Going After Cacciato." ( Miami Herald)

What listeners say about Going After Cacciato

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Profile Image for Darwin8u
  • Darwin8u
  • 16-05-2014

Shadow Sculpture Built out of War's Debris

"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."

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 madness of war, the insanity of the Army, the brutality of killing and instead take an 8500+ mile trip to Gay Paree?

It seems a rational choice: to choose freedom, happiness, liberty. To say cut it, cork it and just run. Leave the swamps of uncertainty, death, and fear behind you. Become a refugee from the carnage of Vietnam. Seek to relocate your tired ass to a place where dumb muthers aren't trying to shoot you. Find some piece of Earth where you aren't sleeping in holes, crawling into tunnels, worrying about whether the bullet that gets you will be audible. Get the hell out of Dodge.

If that was the extent of this novel's vision, it would be a pretty damn good book, but O'Brien tweaks it. He doesn't go for the easy answers. For every tick he gives you a tock. He finds ambiguity everywhere, conflict over each hill. It isn't a simple moral point to stay or go, to fight or to run. War has its own reality. It will exhaust you and then follow up. This confrontation with fear, death, loyalty, morality, friendship, leading, following, is key. The key to this novel is conflict. The conflict is key.

With lyrical beauty, flashbacks, and a magical realism that I've never experienced in a novel about the Vietnam War, O'Brien spins a story that is just that: a yarn, a spin, a giant fantasy race, a road movie, a Moby-Dick, a Danse Macabre, a metaphysical and very modern dance. It is a story of the good, the bad; those who run and those who follow. It is a literary shadow sculpture built out of the debris of war, the stories and cast-offs (the living and the dead).

20 people found this helpful

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  • Dundas I. Flaherty
  • 08-10-2012

Topnotch

Complex, richly imagined war story with real characters, action, wrestling with the moral issues of the Vietnam war. O'Brien has read Heller, Voltaire, Bierce ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" ), and maybe Chaucer, but Cacciato is original work.

It's also one of those books that I believe is better heard than read, like Mrs. Dalloway.

3 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Jon Verzilli
  • Jon Verzilli
  • 09-02-2015

A soldier's own story.

Where does Going After Cacciato rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

As a story, it's near the top, though the production lets it down a bit.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Going After Cacciato?

There's a poignant level of mindfulness about what happened in Vietnam in this book, an attention to detail and character. O'Brien, like in his other books, has more questions than answers, questions both provoking and haunting. There are a few stories going on at once in "Going After Cacciato" and each of the layers is appealing and interesting. The narrative asks about war, "duty" and mission, finding good in awful circumstances, and why soldier's don't run.

Would you be willing to try another one of Kevin T. Collins’s performances?

I felt as if the voice performance brought a level of cartoonishness to the reading that was uneccesary and didn't match up with the subject matter. The voices Collins chooses for the characters, for example, are pretty poor. He just doesn't give the prose much flow, it's almost read as if it has the density of a poem - and while the writing is quite poetic at times, the reading is too choppy and "sing-song" for my liking.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both reactions will happen, simultaneously and endlessly.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for JackMargo
  • JackMargo
  • 20-04-2012

Implausible but Fun

Would you consider the audio edition of Going After Cacciato to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version of this book.

Would you be willing to try another book from Tim O'Brien? Why or why not?

I would try another book by Tim O'Brien because he paints a good verbal picture.

What about Kevin T. Collins’s performance did you like?

Collin's performance was very good. I particularly liked his ability to emphasize the dramatic.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I want to listen to all books in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

The depiction of Vietnam was very good. I know. I was there. The story is a stretch. Still, it is a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carol
  • 21-11-2012

Vietnam as Fiction

Would you listen to Going After Cacciato again? Why?

Absolutely, because, despite its being a war story, the style is lyrical and the plot is intriguing..

What did you like best about this story?

This is a clever twist on a basic situation--desertion. What happens if the pursuers desert too? Plus it distorts reality just enough to drape the story in a gauze of magic.

What didn’t you like about Kevin T. Collins’s performance?

His voice became so emotional that it was drippy.

If you could take any character from Going After Cacciato out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I'd like to talk with Cacciato's Vietnamese girlfriend-wife. Maybe hearing her relaity would help to untangle the story of the actual desertion.

Any additional comments?

Tim O'Brien is a wonderful writer about war and soldiers trying to make sense of a particular morass.He adds magic to what must have been the grimest of realities.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 12-03-2021

Story of a Story

Not a fan of a book that tells a fictional tale inside its own fictional universe. It was hard to follow and very confusing at times.

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Profile Image for Dan I.
  • Dan I.
  • 13-02-2021

An incredible piece, performed with far too much melodrama

I’ve listen to Tim O’Brien speak at a public event, I’ve read several other of his books before trying this one out on Audible. I’ve been to war and I deeply connect with his writing. I almost returned this title multiple times.
The performance is infuriatingly melodramatic. It was like listening to a passionate high school student trying too hard on stage. He’s doing his best to interpret the material but seems to have absolutely no real connection with it. Disappointing.

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  • Paul
  • 09-11-2020

Totally ridiculous and unbelievable!!

This story is so improbable and ridiculous that I’m surprised I spent the time to finish it. Perhaps I was hoping for some tidbit of reality to give the story some credibility. Save your money and give this one a pass!!!

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Profile Image for Brad
  • Brad
  • 17-12-2019

The Vietnam War made no sense and neither did this book

I had heard this was a great book. Very painful listen. I’m disappointed that I wasted my money on the book, but much more concerned about the time I wasted. Very rambling book that may make sense to the drug induced crowd. I’m not in that crowd. Don’t bother with this one.

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Profile Image for tas237
  • tas237
  • 10-12-2018

Not a Vietnam War Story

As much as I loved “The Things they Carried” by O’Brien, this novel falls far short. First, I feel cheated going in thinking it’s a Vietnam war story. It isn’t. Rather, it’s a story of a rag-tag groups intercontinental desertion trip. An exceedingly implausible tale that strains credulity. Further it’s disjointed, hard to follow, odd, & well...boring.
I really tried to get through it, but gave up with about 3 hours left to go.

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Profile Image for jesjaspers
  • jesjaspers
  • 18-01-2018

war story?

or a story about how we tell stories to make sense of chaos co fusion trauma and survival A tour de force of writing. A challenging read to immerse yourself in and go with its flow.

1 person found this helpful

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