In this riveting collection of short stories based around the author's experiences in Vietnam, the one story that perhaps haunts the reader most is "On the Rainy River," which is the author's confession of his near escape of being drafted by fleeing to Canada, but how he failed to do it. It is in this excellent short story that he makes his view on the war in Vietnman perfectly clear. Note what he says:
In June of 1968, a month after graduating from Macalester College, I was drafted to fight a war I hated. I was twenty-one years old. Young, yes, and politically naive, but even so the American war in Vietnam seems to me wrong. Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons. I saw no unity of purpose, no consensus on matters of philosophy or history or law. The very facts were shrouded in uncertainly: Was it a civil war? A war of national liberation or simple aggression? Who started it, and when, and why?
Thus it is clear that O'Brien, like many of his contemporaries, had deep questions about the justness of this war, and also wondered why the presence of Americans was needed to fight a war so far away and in a country that America had little connection with.