Tim O’Brien Speaks about War and Writing

Nov 21, 2003 — About 200 YU students, faculty, and guests packed Gloria and Jesse Weissberg Commons in Belfer Hall on Nov. 19 to hear author Tim O’Brien speak as part of Yeshiva College’s 2003 Book Project.

In hopes of putting world events into historical perspective for students, Mr. O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried was chosen by the Book Project committee to highlight this year’s theme, “How to Tell a True War Story: War, Memory, and the Individual.”

Mr. O’Brien, who wore jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap, spoke for a little more than one hour about the book, his writing, his military experience in Vietnam, and his childhood in Minnesota.

“A story can make us feel the homicides of war,” he said. “A story can give a human face to all the children, soldiers, and grieving widows who are just statistics in history books. A story is carried in the heart.”

After the discussion, Mr. O’Brien took questions about his novels and writing style and autographed copies of his book.

“He’s a master storyteller,” said Daniel Bloom, a first-year student at Rabbi Issac Elchanan Theological Seminary and Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. “His stories really know how to get at the truth.”

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