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Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by…

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Karl Marlantes (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1451114,624 (4.35)401
Title:Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Authors:Karl Marlantes (Author)
Info:Grove Press (2011), Edition: Reprint, 640 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, vietnam war, combat, racism, marines, u.s. military, 1969, war

Work details

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (2010)

Recently added byscu83, shawntowner, hopeless, abbyjomn, ballycumber, wdripp, ucla70, TayaW, tarheel, private library
  1. 91
    The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Both excellent fictional accounts based on Vietnam wartime experience.
  2. 60
    Dispatches by Michael Herr (erickandow)
  3. 30
    Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: This memoir is a fitting complement to Matterhorn's grunt's perspective, giving an account from the point of view of a Huey pilot with the 1st Cav. One is nominally fiction and the other "fact", though it's hard, if not impossible, to tell which is which.… (more)
  4. 30
    In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War by Tobias Wolff (clif_hiker)
  5. 20
    What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: Nonfiction by the author of Matterhorn, this one is a great look at war through the eyes of someone who has been there - what we've done right, what we've done wrong, what we have to change.
  6. 10
    The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Whether American or Vietnamese, the experience of the Vietnam/American war was shared, and these two books explore the experience of fighting and remembering from differing perspectives.
  7. 10
    Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman (chrisharpe)
  8. 10
    Fields of Fire by James Webb (ecureuil)
  9. 00
    A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo (hvg)
  10. 00
    The 13th Valley by John M. Del Vecchio (paulkid)
    paulkid: Similar books that explore the psyches of grunts and their lieutenants, focusing on a small number of company-sized military operations. Both are rich in character development, and capture how soldiers deal with the constant threat of unexpected death and pain. For example, compare Del Vechhio's mantra "Don't mean nuthin'" to Marlantes' "There it is". Both great books.… (more)
  11. 00
    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (mysterymax)
  12. 00
    Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach (alanteder)
    alanteder: "Matterhorn" author Karl Marlantes has said that part of the inspiration for his Vietnam War novel also comes from the Parsifal (aka Parzival aka Percival) Arthurian/Grail legends. See his speaking engagement at the Pritzker Military Library for instance at http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/events/2010/09-23-karl-marlantes.jsp… (more)

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» See also 401 mentions

English (110)  Dutch (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
I listened to this on a CD.I had been out there at the same time the story was written ,not however in Vietnam, and could feel empathy for the characters as I too as an infantry man recognized the link that connects all soldiers .It is amazing how Carl Malantes could bring back the politics and social conditions of those far of days
  manzikertca | Feb 20, 2019 |
I just found my favorite book of 2012.

In high school and a few years after, I devoured everything I could about the Vietnam era - politics, peace movement, protesters, military women and men. I don't recall reading anything (except perhaps for [b:Chickenhawk|63699|Chickenhawk|Robert Mason|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1309211368s/63699.jpg|61856]) which was as engaging as Matterhorn is. And Matterhorn is told much more carefully and deeply than anything I've read on that subject.

Marlantes writes his novel as an insider. It's painfully clear that the stories he tells are not fiction, only novelized. He tackles deep issues - race, class, life and death, the folly of war and the deep heroism of warriors.

This one will stay with me for a very long time. I recommend it highly to anybody who loves historical fiction, a good novel, or stories of the heights and depths of humanity. ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
This is a book about a Marine company in Vietnam.
The story told by Malas, a relatively young platoon commander.
He tells of impossible conditions of life and fighting. On this infrastructure is added the task of the leader he holds. Malas identifies the racial tensions, the seniority relations, and especially the individual problems of the soldiers.
He understands that the way to reach results and thus motivate soldiers to continue fighting (together with the acceptance of authority) is by establishing conventions (not necessarily compromises). This method works.
The descriptions in the book are difficult to read.
Readers with a hard stomach will receive a story about an army lacking professionalism and morale. Those who will continue reading the book will get into the real story - the relationship between soldiers and commanders. ( )
  Ramonremires | Feb 6, 2019 |
An incredibly powerful look at the day-to-day of marine infantry during the Vietnam War. ( )
  minouye | Oct 18, 2018 |
This book is exhausting. If you are looking for some patriotic bullshit John Wayne sort of war story, you had best steer clear. This is rawer than The Naked and the Dead, and filled with more pus and blood and piss than The Things They Carried (which I love at least as much as this book.) Matterhorn is one very long entirely visceral rant. Marlantes wrote this clearly very autobiographical novel over 30 years, and I hope and pray it helped exorcise some ghosts. If 10% of this is accurate there have got to be a lot of ghosts. Anyone who hasn't served, and has the power to make decisions about sending people to war, should be required to read this.

I found myself lying in bed crying at parts of this book, and I am not a cryer. As I listened to the account of our troops going 10 days without food as they humped through the desert, their bodies literally rotting from the humidity and flora of the jungle, I was sad and angry. So sad and angry. As I understood why people came to enjoy killing, I was sad and angry. As I heard about the totally unnecessary maiming of a beautiful young man filled with potential I was sad and angry. As I worked through the impossibility of creating a cohesive group of soldiers, black and white, in a racist world, I was sad and angry. I had to walk away from this a couple times because I did not want to be so very sad and angry. But this book changed me. I read a fair amount about war, but I came away from this different than I went in. I am infinitely grateful to Marlantes, and to the people who served in this ridiculous war. Those men and women are not ridiculous, they are victims and they are heroes. Right at the end of the book there is a quote which I think sums things up nicely:

"Revenge would heal nothing. Revenge had no past. It only started things. It only created more waste, more loss, and he knew that the waste and loss of this night could never be redeemed. There was no filling the holes of death. The emptiness might be filled up by other things over the years—new friends, children, new tasks—but the holes would remain."

***I read and listened to this, and though I prefered the text to the audio overall, I think Bronson Pinchot's narration was excellent. ( )
  Narshkite | Sep 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
In zijn sublieme roman Matterhorn doorbreekt Vietnam-veteraan Karl Marlantes het stilzwijgen dat de maatschappij verwacht van hen die het smerigste werk moeten opknappen: de gevechtssoldaten.
Als verhalenverteller brengt Marlantes effectief het gevoel over wat oorlog is. De gekte, de pijn, maar ook de vriendschap en de liefde. Het maakte dit oorlogsboek populair bij vrouwen in Amerika.
added by sneuper | editde Volkskrant, Arie Elshout (Nov 14, 2011)
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.
"It reads like adventure and yet it makes even the toughest war stories seem a little pale by comparison."
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Shame and honor clash where the courage of a steadfast man is motley like the magpie. But such a man may yet make merry, for Heaven and Hell have equal part in him.
- Wolfram von Eschenbach "Parzifal"
This novel is dedicated to my children, who grew up with the good and bad of having a Marine combat veteran as a father.
First words
Mellas stood beneath the gray monsoon clouds on the narrow strip of cleared ground between the edge of the jungle and the relative safety of the perimeter wire.
Between the emotion and the response, the desire and the spasm, falls the shadow (Matterhorn, p. 597)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 080211928X, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:57 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In the tradition of Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" and James Jones's "The Thin Red Line," Marlantes tells the powerful and compelling story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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