- Paperback: 640 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (May 10, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 881706050X
- ISBN-13: 978-0802145314
- ASIN: 0802145310
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,453 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War Paperback – May 10, 2011
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010: Matterhorn is a marvel--a living, breathing book with Lieutenant Waino Mellas and the men of Bravo Company at its raw and battered heart. Karl Marlantes doesn't introduce you to Vietnam in his brilliant war epic--he unceremoniously drops you into the jungle, disoriented and dripping with leeches, with only the newbie lieutenant as your guide. Mellas is a bundle of anxiety and ambition, a college kid who never imagined being part of a "war that none of his friends thought was worth fighting," who realized too late that "because of his desire to look good coming home from a war, he might never come home at all." A highly decorated Vietnam veteran himself, Marlantes brings the horrors and heroism of war to life with the finesse of a seasoned writer, exposing not just the things they carry, but the fears they bury, the friends they lose, and the men they follow. Matterhorn is as much about the development of Mellas from boy to man, from the kind of man you fight beside to the man you fight for, as it is about the war itself. Through his untrained eyes, readers gain a new perspective on the ravages of war, the politics and bureaucracy of the military, and the peculiar beauty of brotherhood. --Daphne Durham
Amazon Exclusive: Mark Bowden Reviews Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Mark Bowden is the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, Killing Pablo, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.
Matterhorn is a great novel. There have been some very good novels about the Vietnam War, but this is the first great one, and I doubt it will ever be surpassed. Karl Marlantes overlooks no part of the experience, large or small, from a terrified soldier pondering the nature of good and evil, to the feel and smell of wet earth against scorched skin as a man tries to press himself into the ground to escape withering fire. Here is story-telling so authentic, so moving and so intense, so relentlessly dramatic, that there were times I wasn’t sure I could stand to turn the page. As with the best fiction, I was sad to reach the end.
The wrenching combat in Matterhorn is ultimately pointless; the marines know they are fighting a losing battle in the long run. Bravo Company carves out a fortress on the top of the hill so named, one of countless low, jungle-coated mountains near the border of Laos, only to be ordered to abandon it when they are done. After the enemy claims the hill’s deep bunkers and carefully constructed fields of fire, the company is ordered to take it back, to assault their own fortifications. They do so with devastating consequences, only to be ordered in the end to abandon Matterhorn once again.
Against this backdrop of murderous futility, Marlantes’ memorable collection of marines is pushed to its limits and beyond. As the deaths and casualties mount, the men display bravery and cowardice, ferocity and timidity, conviction and doubt, hatred and love, intelligence and stupidity. Often these opposites are contained in the same person, especially in the book’s compelling main character, Second Lt. Waino Mellas. As Mellas and his men struggle to overcome impossible barriers of landscape, they struggle to overcome similarly impossible barriers between each other, barriers of race and class and rank. Survival forces them to cling to each other and trust each other and ultimately love each other. There has never been a more realistic portrait or eloquent tribute to the nobility of men under fire, and never a more damning portrait of a war that ground them cruelly underfoot for no good reason.
Marlantes brilliantly captures the way combat morphs into clean abstraction as fateful decisions move up the chain of command, further and further away from the actual killing and dying. But he is too good a novelist to paint easy villains. His commanders make brave decisions and stupid ones. High and low there is the same mix of cowardice and bravery, ambition and selflessness, ineptitude and competence.
There are passages in this book that are as good as anything I have ever read. This one comes late in the story, when the main character, Mellas, has endured much, has killed and also confronted the immediate likelihood of his own death, and has digested the absurdity of his mission: "He asked for nothing now, nor did he wonder if he had been good or bad. Such concepts were all part of the joke he’d just discovered. He cursed God directly for the savage joke that had been played on him. And in that cursing Mellas for the first time really talked with his God. Then he cried, tears and snot mixing together as they streamed down his face, but his cries were the rage and hurt of a newborn child, at last, however roughly, being taken from the womb."
Vladimir Nabokov once said that the greatest books are those you read not just with your heart or your mind, but with your spine. This is one for the spine. --Mark Bowden--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Thirty years in the making, Marlantes's epic debut is a dense, vivid narrative spanning many months in the lives of American troops in Vietnam as they trudge across enemy lines, encountering danger from opposing forces as well as on their home turf. Marine lieutenant and platoon commander Waino Mellas is braving a 13-month tour in Quang-Tri province, where he is assigned to a fire-support base and befriends Hawke, older at 22; both learn about life, loss, and the horrors of war. Jungle rot, leeches dropping from tree branches, malnourishment, drenching monsoons, mudslides, exposure to Agent Orange, and wild animals wreak havoc as brigade members face punishing combat and grapple with bitterness, rage, disease, alcoholism, and hubris. A decorated Vietnam veteran, the author clearly understands his playing field (including military jargon that can get lost in translation), and by examining both the internal and external struggles of the battalion, he brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences. Marlantes's debut may be daunting in length, but it remains a grand, distinctive accomplishment. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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'Matterhorn,' is about a company of Marines who build, take apart and rebuild an outpost on a remote hilltop in Vietnam. Thia hilltop came to called 'Mattherhorn'. We are introduced to Second Lieutenant Mellas, an intelligent, Ivy League graduate who opted for the Marines. He brings us along on his journey with Bravo Company, Fifth Marine Division, his men, and he would do anything for them. He learns to be a leader of men while on the job, to bring his company through the hills and valleys of Vietnam, build that outpost, take it apart and then rebuild it. He and his company go without food and water for days on end. Helicopter drops are up to the 'brass' and they hold them up if it is thought the company is not following their orders fast enough. At great personal cost, Mellas and his men follow orders, kill the 'gooks', pick up their own killed, and drag them through the wildnerness until the military higher-ups send a helicopter. The area of Vietnam between Laos and the DMZ is often fogged in, so helicopters have to find a way inbetween the clouds. The incompetence of the 'brass' is infuriating, it is part of the game they play to make the next level. They screw around with their soldiers and screw around with their lives, and this was the most difficult part of this book for me to accept. The racial tension at this time is very acute, and the stories of fragging and the black vs white man is disturbing.
Karl Marlantes has written his story, it seems. It took him thirty years. He may have been unleashing his demons, and whatever the story is, it worked. This is a deep, emotional journey of a young man who went to war for his country. The men in his company became his family, and the strong ties they found would follow them forever more. Sebastian Junger, in his review said, "Karl Marlantes seems like a man whose life was radically altered by war, and who now wants to pass along the favor. And with a desperate fury, he does. Chapter after chapter, battle after battle, Marlantes pushes you through what may be one of the most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam -- or any war. It's not a book so much as a deployment, and you will not return unaltered." That is exactly what I felt like by the end of the book, wrung out and a real need to talk about.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 08-201-11
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