Going After Cacciato: A Powerful Journey through the Vietnam War


Going After Cacciato is a gripping novel written by Tim O’Brien, an acclaimed American author known for his works set during the Vietnam War. Originally published in 1978, this book has left a lasting impact on readers around the world, enticing them with its powerful narrative and thought-provoking themes.

The Story

Set against the chaotic backdrop of the Vietnam War, the story of “Going After Cacciato” follows a young soldier named Paul Berlin, who becomes disillusioned with the war after witnessing the death and destruction it creates. Faced with the horrors of battle, Paul begins to fantasize about a fellow soldier named Cacciato who decides to go AWOL, intending to walk all the way to Paris. As Paul joins a group of soldiers in pursuit of Cacciato, the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred, creating a surreal and captivating journey.

Recognition and Awards

O’Brien’s “Going After Cacciato” received critical acclaim and garnered several prestigious awards. In 1979, it won the National Book Award for Fiction, a recognition of its literary excellence and insightful depiction of the Vietnam War experience. The novel has since become a timeless classic, frequently appearing on lists of must-read books about the Vietnam War.

Critical Reception

The novel has received exceptional praise from critics who have applauded O’Brien’s skillful storytelling and his ability to delve deep into the emotional and psychological toll of war. The New York Times Book Review described “Going After Cacciato” as a “brilliant and bizarre book” that offers a fresh perspective on the Vietnam War. The Los Angeles Times praised O’Brien for his masterful blending of reality and imagination, making the story a truly captivating read.

Important Characters

“Going After Cacciato” introduces readers to a cast of memorable characters whose journeys shape the narrative. These include:

1. Paul Berlin

The protagonist and narrator of the story, Paul Berlin, is a young soldier struggling to make sense of the war. Through his eyes, readers experience the confusing and often surreal events that unfold during the pursuit of Cacciato.

2. Cacciato

Cacciato, a fellow soldier, becomes the center of Paul Berlin’s fantasies. He symbolizes escapism and the desire to break free from the harsh realities of war, captivating both the characters in the book and readers alike.

3. Lieutenant Sidney M. Martin

Lieutenant Sidney M. Martin serves as Paul Berlin’s platoon leader. He plays a crucial role in shaping the soldiers’ perceptions of duty, pushing them to confront the realities of war and their own personal struggles.

4. Sarkin Aung Wan

A South Vietnamese refugee, Sarkin Aung Wan plays a significant role in the narrative, providing insights into the local perspective and showcasing the impact of war on innocent civilians.


With its evocative storytelling and profound exploration of war, “Going After Cacciato” remains a compelling read that invites readers to reflect on the human experience in times of conflict. Tim O’Brien’s ability to capture the complexities of war and weave them into a gripping narrative makes this novel a true masterpiece of literature.

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