should come with a warning: "Do not read before bed." Not only did it keep me up reading into the wee hours of the night, but I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and situations they found themselves in long after I'd turned off the light. Marlantes's first novel is stunning in its intensity and scope. I've read many war novels over the years, but none that come close to this book's ability to convey the lives of soldiers with such realism.
The narrative follows Second Lieutenant Waino Mellas, newly arrived at Fire Support Base (FSB) Matterhorn in the northwest corner of South Vietnam. As we meet Mellas, he is a callow young man who joined the Marines right out of high school, entering an officer candidate program that allowed him to attend college while training, joining the Marine Corps proper after graduation. He's therefore a bit...
Beyond the Book
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) serves as a force-in-readiness within the United States security structure. Among other branches of the US military, it is unique in its ability to rapidly deploy a combined-arms task force to almost anywhere in the world within days. It is capable of entry into hostile or dangerous situations from the air, land and sea.
At its core, the group has always remained grounded in its genesis as an infantry unit, and this has made it different from other branches of the military. It continues to rely on mobile personnel versus advanced weaponry. Each Marine is trained as a gunman, regardless of position or area of responsibility, and each officer is trained as an infantry platoon commander. This structure has proven invaluable over...