Tim O’Brien is an American novelist born on October 1, 1946 in Austin, Minnesota. After high school, he attended Macalester College to study political science and was subsequently drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. He served from 1969 to 1970 and later enrolled at Harvard University for graduate school. O’Brien details the harrowing experiences of the war in his first novel, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.
Tim O’Brien’s memoir recounts a standard day while serving in the Alpha Company of the United States Army. He describes the intense training, battles of epic losses, and other traumatizing experiences that ultimately shaped him as a person. O’Brien beautifully writes of his struggle to balance patriotism and morality in a war that claimed the lives of millions.
When it was published in 1973, If I Die in a Combat Zone received considerable praise from critics and audiences. Ann Gottlieb of The New York Times described the memoir as a “beautiful, painful book, arousing pity and fear for the daily realities of a modern disaster.” He writes “without either pomposity or embarrassment-with the care and eloquence of someone for whom communication is still a vital and serious possibility, not a narcissistic vestige.”
Since Tim O’Brien’s debut novel, he has published numerous other books, including Northern Lights (1975), Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy (1975), Going After Cacciato (1978), The Nuclear Age (1985), The Things They Carried (1990), In the Lake of the Woods (1994), Tomcat in Love (1998), and July, July (2002).