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O'Brien feels that fiction based on truth is more authentic than the actual truth. The art of writing fiction can engage the reader in a way that non-fiction cannot. I think his epigraph is meant to challenge the reader. Do we accept his version of the war because he was a soldier? Do we doubt him because he was a soldier? Many American children still believe that America won the Vietnam War because of movies like Rambo or other myths created in Hollywood. I think O'Brien is challenging the reader to decipher both the mythos of was and its reality.