When comparing Patterson's Grand Expectations and O'Brien's The Things They Carried, each coincides with one another and gives accurate details of the front lines of battle. The Things They Carried is a work of fiction and Patterson's Grand Expectations is merely a combination of facts and opinions. Either book would greatly enhance a reader's historical knowledge of the Vietnam War. Patterson's Grand Expectations and O'Brien's The Things They Carried show the significant stresses of war whether it be on a solider in the depths of Vietnam or the American society as a whole.
For the younger generation, the Vietnam War is a thing of the past. They can only learn about this era from historical sources and those who served. The conflict that one has to ask is, what can one really believe? In Patterson's book, he often states that the struggle in Vietnam was Johnson's war. "According to Patterson, there was no doubt that the war escalated under Johnson's watch."
Patterson also mentions the significant split among peoples associated with the war such as protests throughout the country, and the great division among race, class, and age. Evidence of this division can be seen within The Things They Carried, when O'Brien is recalling his actions to being drafted. While he is opposed to the war, he thinks about the choices he really has.
"I feared losing the respect of my parents. I feared the law. I feared ridicule and censure. My hometown was a conservative little spot on the prairie, a place where tradition counted."
According to Patterson, critics of Johnson claim that he was deceitful in telling the American people about events in Vietnam. One of these events was the Tonkin Gulf crisis of August 1964. Johnson said nothing to the American people, yet ordered a...