A big, powerful saga of men in combat, written over the course of thirty-five years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran.
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.
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. He tried to focus on counting the other thirteen Marines of the patrol as they emerged single file from the jungle, but exhaustion made focusing difficult. He also tried, unsuccessfully, to shut out the smell of the shit, which sloshed in the water that half-filled the open latrine pits above him on the other side of the wire. Rain dropped from the lip of his helmet,fell past his eyes, and spattered onto the satiny olive cloth that held the armor plating of his cumbersome new flak jacket. The dark green T-shirt and boxer shorts that his mother had dyed for him just three weeks ago clung to his skin, heavy and clammy beneath his camouflage utility jacket and trousers. He knew there would be leeches clinging to his legs, arms, back, and chest beneath his wet clothes, even though he couldn’t feel them now....
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).
Full Review (738 words).
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 ...
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