Tim O’Brien was born in Austin, Minnesota in 1946. His father was an insurance salesman and his mother a teacher. He studied political science at Macalester College, where he took a B. A. He then spent two years serving in Vietnam. He considered deserting but did not. After Vietnam, he studied at Harvard, working two summers as an intern at the Washington Post. While at Harvard, he published his first two books. He left Harvard without completing his Ph. D. to concentrate on his writing career, which took off with the publication of Going After Cacciato.