The wars don't end when you sign peace treaties or when the years go by. They will echo on until I'm gone and all the widows and orphans are gone.

Peace never bragged. If you didn't look for it, it wasn't there.

'The Things They Carried' is labeled right inside the book as a work of fiction, but I did set out when I wrote the book to make it feel real... I use my own name, and I dedicated the book to characters in the book to give it the form of a war memoir.

A nine-year-old girl, just a kid, and yet there was something ageless in her eyes— not a child, not an adult — just an ongoing everness, that same pinprick of absolute lasting light that I see today in my own eyes as Timmy smiles at Tim from the graying photographs of that time.

Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons.

They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.

We'll find new stuff to want.

I returned to Vietnam in '94, and even then, all those decades later, walking around that place, I remained afraid. And, in some ways, rightly so.

I don't think I'd call myself a war writer, but I would probably say I'm a writer who has written about war.

The presence of danger has a way of making you feel fully awake.

Though it's odd, you're never more alive when you're almost dead.

A lot like yesterday, a lot like never.

If a story seems moral, do not believe it.

On occasions the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put fancy spin on it, you could make it dance.

It's a hard thing to explain to somebody who hasn't felt it, but the presence of death and danger has a way of bringing you fully awake. It makes things vivid. When you're afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world. You make close friends.

When your afraid,reallyafraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world.

It was the burden of being alive. Awkwardly, the men would reassemble themselves, first in private, then in groups, becoming soldiers again. They would repair the leaks in their eyes. They would check for casualties, call in dustoffs, light cigarettes, try to smile, clear their throats and spit and begin cleaning their weapons.

They would get their shit together, and keep it together, and maintain it neatly and in good working order.

Stories can encourage us and embolden us to face ourselves and to feel. Stories can make us feel less alone. If we're reading a story that moves us, we can feel that emotion that I feel towards my father or mother or girlfriend. So they can give us late-night company.

You don't know. When I'm out there at night I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving, my skin and fingernails, everything, it's like I'm full of electricity and I'm glowing in the dark - I'm on fire almost - I'm burning away into nothing - but it doesn't matter because I know exactly who I am.

Above all, a well-imagined story is organized around extraordinary human behaviors and unexpected and startling events, which help illuminate the commonplace and the ordinary.

If you stop loving someone, did you ever love them? If you say you're committed and later you're not committed, well, was the first thing commitment? You see what I mean? This kind of thing has always interested me.

And as a writer now, I want to save Linda's life. Not her body--her life.

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers signed up intentionally. That's a huge difference from the largely conscripted army of my era.

I know what it is to feel unloved, to want revenge, to make mistakes, to suffer disappointment, yet also to find the courage to go forward in life.

By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths.

But the thing about remembering is that you don't forget.

Nostalgia-- that's the basic sickness, and I never heard of a doctor who can cure it.

No matter how wonderful the story, it has to move on something, and that is language. The words that I use, the pace, the rhythm and cadences all need to be there. If they're not there, the story is like a boat that just sits there and doesn't move on the ocean.

It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.

Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.

There should be a law, I thought. If you support a war, if you think it's worth the price, that's fine, but you have to put your own precious fluids on the line. You have to head for the front and hook up with an infantry unit and help spill the blood.

Everywhere, it seemed, in the tress and water and sky, a great worldwide sadness came pressing down on me, a crushing sorrow, sorrow like I had never known it before.

That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.

Writing doesn't get easier with experience. The more you know, the harder it is to write.

A hundred stories [...] Ghosts rising from the dead. Ghosts behind you and in front of you and inside you.

He wanted to know her. Intimate secrets: Why poetry? Why so sad? Why that grayness in her eyes? Why so alone? Not lonely, just alone—riding her bike across campus or sitting off by herself in the cafeteria—even dancing, she danced alone—and it was the aloneness that filled him with love.

I have tried, of course, to be faithful to the evidence. Yet evidence is not truth. It is only evident.

You learn, finally, that you'll die, and so you try to hang on to your own life, that gentle, naive kid you used to be, but then after a while the sentiment takes over, and the sadness, because you know for a fact that you can't ever bring any of it back again. You just can't.

He had an opinion of himself, I think, that was too high for his own good. Or maybe it was the reverse. Maybe it was a low opinion that he kept trying to erase.

In the next days it took little provocation for us to flick the flint of our Zippo lighters. Thatched roofs take the flame quickly, and on bad days the hamlets of Pinkville burned, taking our revenge in fire. It was good to walk from Pinkville and to see fire behind Alpha Company. It was good, just as pure hate is good.

They were afraid of dying but they were even more afraid to show it.

Most of the things in 'The Things They Carried' didn't happen to me. Ninety-five percent of it's invented. It's not what occurred.

Well, right now, she said, I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like . . . I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading.

A few names were known in full, some in part, some not at all. No one cared. Except in clearly unreasonable cases, a soldier was generally called by the name he preferred, or by what he called himself, and no great effort was made to disentangle Christian names from surnames from nicknames.

What happened, and what might have happened?

I did not set out to write another novel. One day I sat down with the thought of trying my hand at a piece of nonfiction, a personal memoir of youth, but over the next several weeks, without intending it, the work began evolving into what has become 'Tomcat in Love.'

I was a coward. I went to the war.