Tim O'Brien is generally known as a Vietnam War writer, but he is fundamentally a moralist--a moralist who refuses to provide any single, simple morals. He believes in storytelling, but in storytelling as a way to confront the ethical complexity of the real modern world--a complexity that perhaps is best illustrated at war in Southeast Asia but is no less evident at home in the family. For O'Brien, the "true core of fiction" is "the exploration of substantive, important human values" (Caldwell 71). This essay is a brief biography of Tim O?Brien?s family-educational background, his careers, literary awards, interviews, and novels.
Tim O'Brien moved with his family to Worthington, Minnesota, when he was ten years old. His father William T. O?Brien was an insurance salesman, and his mother Ava Schulz O'Brien, a teacher. As a youth, he studied the techniques of magic and then practiced the art, fascinated by the mystery of illusion.
Raised in Minnesota, Tim O'Brien graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from St. Paul's Macalaster College with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a scholarship to start graduate school at Harvard University. At Macalaster, O'Brien was president of the student body his senior year and was mildly involved in Macalaster's already mild version of the antiwar movement. Immediately after graduating he received his draft notice, and he entered the army in August 1968.
He was assigned to the 46th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade, 5th Battalion, Alpha Company, 3rd squad. O'Brien spent seven months in combat and received the Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. Sergeant O'Brien finished his 365-day plus one month tour of duty in Vietnam as a clerk. During several years as a graduate student studying government at Harvard University (1970-1976). O?Brien took classes, passing his orals,