Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes is a work of staggering intensity. Every
generation seems to have its war, for my generation it was Vietnam, a war that
tore the country asunder and leaves gaping wounds that are painful to probe
even today. Matterhorn brings to vivid, terrifying life the experiences of the troops. Soldiers
will pick up this book and feel like they have been given a voice, it is
devastating, visceral, and oh so real. Marlantes can write! In chapter two he
describes dusk turning to dark in Vietnam. The light died. Voices were silenced. Darkness and fear replaced light
and reason. The whisper of a leaf scraping on bark would make heads turn
involuntarily and hearts gallop. The surrounding blackness and unseen wall of
dripping growth left no place to run. In that black wet nothingness the
perimeter became just a memory. Only imagination gave it form. The New York Times Book Review described this book as being more like a
deployment than like reading a book, I agree. This is a story that needed
to be told.
Summer '11 Reading Group List
“Every war has produced seminal fiction, but in the case of Vietnam there have been few examples. Marlantes now increases that list with a towering, majestic novel of men in combat. Like all great literature, his work transcends a particular war because of the universality of his characters and themes. This is a novel that will endure.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
Featured in PBS's The Vietnam War series by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick.
The New York Times bestselling, powerhouse (TIME Magazine) debut from Vietnam War veteran, Karl Marlantes.
An incredible publishing story--written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a New York Times best seller for sixteen weeks, a National Indie Next and a USA Today best seller--Matterhorn has been hailed as a "brilliant account of war" (New York Times Book Review). Now out in paperback, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones's 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.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.
I wouldn't be surprised if Matterhorn becomes for the Vietnam War what All Quiet on the Western Front was to World War I. -James Patterson
About the Author
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. He is the author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War. He lives in rural Washington.