Blew me away! I was in college during this era, and the few guys I met who had been to Nam never talked about it. I had no idea what it was really like. I felt like this book let me in on what it was like for all of those guys who dealt with the most horrifying situations in the best way they could, then had to go home and pretend everything was fine. We were in the military toward the end of the era, and many of the terms took me back to the time I spent on an army post. There's a glossary for those not so familiar with the jargon.
This book puts you right into the jungle during the Vietnam War, where you experience the horrific conditions and emotions of a company of Marines as they survive from one day to the next. The characters are surprising and interesting and the plot is compelling. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in war fiction but can also be enjoyed as a human interest story. There is a fair bit of military jargon in the book but it doesn't take long to get used to it and there is a glossary provided for words you want to look up. I hardly needed the glossary after the first couple of chapters. This book was written by a highly decorated marine and I frequently wished I could talk to him throughout my reading of the book to find out where the line between fact and fiction was drawn.
This is a fantastic book. If you enjoy books on combat then you will enjoy this novel. The story is thrilling and seems, to a coward like me, to be authentic. You begin to understand the strategy involved in fighting within the mountainous jungles of Vietnam. The methods used had limitations and there were constant tradeoffs between lives lost and battles won. The writer drags on the race card a bit, but who am I to say that relationships weren’t this way during the period as I was in diapers. Matterhorn is well written and a great read.
I was put off at first by the military procedural aspects of the storytelling. Then it became an important part of a moving and compelling tale. If you want to know why it was such a frustrating excercise for those who fought the vietnam War, read this book.
Everyone now (or ever has been) in the the armed service, everyone who knows someone who served during a military conflict, every American who supports or protests our wars, no matter their political persuasion, should read this. It's brilliant. Six hundred+ pages took me about five days to finish. I laughed out loud, wept, marveled, and finally applauded and started pressing it on friends. When you finish it, or even before you start, check out the interviews with Marlantes on U-tube. He's the real deal.
I found this to be a long, good read. If you enjoy war stories, there was lots to this and I looked forward to picking it up to read everyday.
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes was quite an experience, I truly read this with my heart as well as my mind. The story quickly absorbs you into the routine of Bravo Company, a marine company that is sitting on top of a hill, called Matterhorn, in the northwest of Viet Nam not far from the border with Laos. Thrust into jungle warfare with it’s associated horrors of leeches, diarrhoea, jungle rot and immersion foot these young marines appear to be little more than “cannon fodder” to the senior offices sitting many miles away in the safety of home base. They appear to view this war much like a balance sheet, wanting to justify their damages with greater amounts of “gooks” killed. Body count was everything and used as justification for men lost. Ordered to abandon Matterhorn, only to be dropped back into the jungle a few days later and told to retake it, Bravo Company endures, trying to survive in spite of these futile and confused orders. Battling against a regiment of North Vietnamese Regulars they quickly find themselves in trouble, surrounded and being bombarded by shells and continuously micromanaged from headquarters with demands from incompetent officers. Surrounded, unable to retreat, they must dig in and hope the weather changes to allow the helicopters back in with reinforcements, food, ammunition, medical supplies and water. This war comes to life as seen through the eyes of a young, ambitious officer, who soon learns to think more about survival than medals or promotion. Yet, there is so much more to this book than combat. Karl Marlantes absolutely nails the times and political feelings at all levels. This book is a vivid look at Viet Nam, and the men who fought there, in the late sixties, and with his realistic dialogue and characters, one that will remain unforgettable.
Winner of the 2011 William E. Colby Award, which honors "a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public's understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs." The Award is named for the late ambassador and CIA director. Thirty years in the making, this might be the definitive Vietnam War book. Marlantes was there, and the immediacy of his experience is present on every page. In circumstances of squalor, bad food, killing heat and humidity and body rot, young men are sent repeatedly to take a big hill. They succeed and are then told to give it up. The fatuousness of war comes through loud and clear.
One of the best war novels I've ever read. Maybe even one of the best books I've ever read. Just an outstanding, fascinating book that follows a company of marines in the Vietnam War. The main character (Mellas) is very interesting and the novel does a great job of jumping between vicious battles, extreme racism, inhumane orders from the generals, and the mundane of life in the jungle. While it takes a bit to get into the main 'action' at the beginning, you really feel like you understand what these marines went through. While the story and characters are fictional, it still fits into the historic framework of that time of the Vietnam war. If you at all like military fiction you will love this book.
Unputtdownable! I know it isn't a real word but it describes this book. Even if you do not normally read war books make an exception in this case. It also contains maps that make following the events much easier. Great characters and great writing. It makes you appreciate how hard it must have been for soldiers to have been involved in this war.
I don't usually read war novels, but I came across this book and was absolutely rivetted throughout the entire, rather long story. It is a very well told story of a platoon in Vietnam, highlighting among other things the racial tensions within an otherwise tightly knit group and the frayed logic of an ambitious set of officers. At times it read a bit like Catch-22 without the comedy. Highly recommended.
I ended up jumping the queue and buying it. It was a phenomenal read. Very much recommend!
A moving, grimly realistic and deeply felt account of soldiers' lives in battle in Vietnam. This story is told from the point of view of a young American officer. It does not attempt to give a Vietnamese or critical perspective on the war. Rather it reflects the inner struggles and brutal circumstances of combat service. Karl Marlantes has an exquisitely sensitive heart and ear for both language and the way ethnicity, culture, class, education and regional background inform our thinking and behavior. He portrays his characters with sympathy, even deep affection, yet doesn't create stereotypes, whether angels or demons. This is as good a novel as I have ever read, and certainly one of the best works of fiction to come out of the American experience in Vietnam.
A masterpiece. I didn't want to read it, and I couldn't put it down.
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