67 minutes | Mar 2, 2021

Tim O'Brien: The Final Book on the Vietnam War

Tim O'Brien is one of the most influential living American writers, a National Book Award winner and the author of the groundbreaking book The Things They Carried.

Tim joins us along with award winning director and producer Aaron Matthews to discuss Aaron's film, The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien.

Aaron spent over a year filming Tim as he battled to write one final book – a legacy for his young family about life and fatherhood – even as Tim and his family remain haunted by the ghosts of the Vietnam War. 

Tim talks about the intrusion of allowing a film crew delve deeply into his and his family's personal lives. But by doing so, the film captures the day-to-day intrusions of family life on Tim's creative process.

The discussion naturally leads to the importance of fatherhood, and Tim’s perception of all wars – past, present and future – given his own experiences as an infantryman in the Vietnam War.

“I find it outrageous that we can spend 15 years in Vietnam killing 3 million people, and you can go to a school in America and they know nothing about the Vietnam War.” - Tim O’Brien

Time Stamps:

03:31 - Where you can watch The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien. 04:17 - What the film is about. 05:30 - How Aaron met Tim and got the idea to make the film. 07:05 - What Tim’s response was to a film being made about him. 08:37 - What it’s like having a camera crew follow you around for so long. 10:47 - What it was like for Aaron being allowed so deeply into someone else's life. 12:27 - What Tim’s family thought of the documentary's creation. 15:29 - What it was like for Aaron seeing Tim’s creative process unfolding over time. 18:46 - The struggle and unpredictable nature of writing a book. 25:20 - First clip: Tim talks about his experience in Vietnam. 28:29 - What it was like for Tim to not write for over 15 years. 31:39 - The film's theme of fatherhood, and the importance of fathers. 37:45 - Second clip: how Vietnam changed Tim’s life forever. 40:21 - The never-ending outrage Tim has towards war. 43:05 - The different reasons you can use to go to war. 47:50 - What Aaron’s motivation to make the film was. 52:15 - The issues with using the word ‘war’. 56:10 - How interested Tim’s sons are in the Vietnam war. 01:01:20 - The contrast Tim’s warmth brings to the dark nature of the film. 01:04:43 - Will Tim ever write another book?

Resources: The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien (2021) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien Dad's Maybe Book by Tim O'Brien

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