Intense, powerful, and compelling, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailers The Naked and the Dead and James Joness The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless 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. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.
Written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable novel that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice: a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.
A graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Karl Marlantes served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals. This is his first novel. He lives in rural Washington State.
While most people who read this book will never fight in a war, Marlantes allows his readers to come as close as possible to the experience. He does what only great authors can: truly put his audience in his characters' shoes. Readers will undoubtedly come away from Matterhorn with a new, better understanding of what it's like to be in battle under horrendous circumstances. This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in war novels. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
The Washington Post - David Masiel
In some ways Matterhorn isn't new at all, but it reminds us of the horror of all war by laying waste to romantic notions and napalming the cool factor of video games and "Generation Kill."
Marlantes doesn't tell a new story, and his characters often fit the proverbial war-story stereotypes. But he pitches us into a harrowing narrative we won't soon forget.
The Los Angeles Times
Mellas and his fellow Marines try to create their own meaning out of sorrow and memory and the traditions of the Corps. They turn inward and refuse to see that the antiwar movement has its own brand of courage and idealism. Even today, Marlantes seems to view the protesters as little more than rich kids hiding behind their deferments. It's a notable blind spot in a morally and psychologically sophisticated novel that does so many other things so well.
This tough, unsentimental saga is filled with frightened men; most endure and achieve a certain nobility in spite of themselves. An engrossing chronicle of men at war.
Readable and well written, though not quite in the class of Tim O'Brien, Philip Caputo, Michael Herr, Robert Stone and other top-flight literary chroniclers of the war in Vietnam.
Starred Review. Marlantes’s debut may be daunting in length, but it remains a grand, distinctive accomplishment.
Starred Review. Obviously not a brief, cheery read, this is a major work that will be a valuable addition to any permanent collection.
The New York Times Book Review - Sebastian Junger Matterhorn is a raw, brilliant account of war that may well serve as a final exorcism for one of the most painful passages in American history.
on Stallworthy, Editor, The Oxford Book of War Poetry Matterhorn is a terrific, towering novel. Marine Lieutenant Marlantes does for the Vietnam War what Lieutenant Sassoon did for the war in Flanders; what Sergeant Mailer did for the war in the Pacific; what Tenente Hemingway did for the war in Italy.
Mackubin Owens, Associate Dean, US Naval War College
Matterhorn is a powerful work of literature and a tribute to those who fought and died at the end of the line.
Christina Robb, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
I have never read a war novel, outside of War and Peace, that created such a living, breathing hologram of all sides of any war.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Barbara C. Powerful! "Matterhorn" is not what I would normally pick up and read, but I'm sure glad I did cause this is the benchmark that I will judge all 2010 books. I suspect that this superbly written and very powerful novel will be one that stays with me... Read More
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