The things ‘This Is Us’ carried: author Tim O’Brien joins show as a consultant

Novelist and Vietnam veteran Tim O'Brien in 2001.
(Matt Houston / Associated Press)
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Tim O’Brien, the novelist known for his Vietnam War-themed books “The Things They Carried” and “Going After Cacciato,” will serve as a consultant on the third season of the popular NBC show “This Is Us.”

Deadline reports that O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran, will advise the show’s writers and producers next season. He’ll presumably contribute to the storyline about Milo Ventimiglia’s character, Jack, who fought as a soldier in Vietnam.

“This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman called O’Brien “a writing hero.”

“It was incredibly intimidating bringing him into our room to discuss a Vietnam plot line — and it was even more rewarding,” Fogelman said. “I’ve never said this before, but I can’t wait to be rewritten by him.”


O’Brien first gained the attention of the literary set in 1973, with the publication of his Vietnam War memoir “If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.” He followed that up five years later with “Going After Cacciato,” a National Book Award-winning novel about an American soldier who deserts his squad in Vietnam.

In 1990, O’Brien published “The Things They Carried,” a short story collection about the Vietnam War. The book, and especially the title story, have become a staple of school reading lists.

Its intertwining structure, which allows the details to take on greater meaning as the reader continues through the book, is not unlike that of “This Is Us.”