Marlantes grips the reader as he combines a solid plot line with exceptional character interaction. He chronicles with skill a young second lieutenant's path to a maturity of sorts as the latter confronts the fecklessness of circumstance in a war guided by disparate layers of politics - interpersonal, institutional, and national. Bravo Company pays a heavy price at the nexus between this reality and an unforgiving jungle terrain inhabited by a motivated enemy. The author gives credence to what a rough tutor terror and deprivation can be in forging human bonds and a modicum of wisdom. The tale is well narrated by Mr. Pinchot, and for this listener, proved utterly absorbing
I'm a 3rd into this story and so far its fascinating and enjoyable. The author has put a lot of little details of daily life which really puts you right there. The narrator is excellent and for the most part can tell the difference between the many characters in the story. My only issue is there are a lot of different characters in the story so you need to pay close attention in the beginning to know who they all are.
I have read and listened to a lot of Vietnam War books. Most have been from the perspective of the privates where all the officers are made to look like idiots who can care less. In this book the protagonists are young lieutenants, which make it a bit different and more realist view
Audible Member Since 2003
What a great book that could have been written only by a person who has lived through the experience. It is full of military jargon and certainly not for everyone. It is a hard-hitting account of the absolutely tragic futility known as Vietnam. The hill known as "Matterhorn" was just a hill occupied by the Marines, abandoned by the moronic command and re-taken at the immeasurable cost of human lives. This book is simply a masterpiece.
I have many Gigabytes of Audible.com books & enjoy them all. This however leads the pack by far in the Military series. This is the only book that has moved me to write a review. It is worth every moment of listening. Spellbinding! Do yourself a favor, give it a try. John T. Wagner. 5 Stars easy
I drug my feet about listening to this one. Nam isn't exactly something fun to remember. However, once I started listening, I couldn't stop. The writing is excellent and narration is spot on.
After so much has been written about Nam, it's hard to believe one more book could add so much to understanding. History and military buffs will enjoy this book
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I thought I had a tiny bit of an idea of what Viet Nam was about, but the deprivation and pain and horrific loss is clearer in this book than in anything else I've ever read. The characters are real: complex, lovable and frustrating. But, even more infuriating is the ridiculous loss of life and the horrible disservice our government did to an entire generation. This book is raw. It's also one of the finest things I've ever listened to. The dialogue and brilliant narration combine to make it feel all too real. I will never look at a Viet Nam vet the same.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
As powerful and readable a novel about being a grunt in the Vietnam War as any I've come across. Marlantes builds his narrative from the kind of mud-spattered detail that only a veteran of such an experience could bring: the drudgery and exhaustion of patrols, the tension that precedes contact with the enemy, the ever-simmering difficulties between white and black soldiers, good officers vs those who want to further their careers, the simultaneous horror and thrill of combat, the mixed pride and resentment over having been sent to fight, and the simple truth that the young men who fight are, in fact, young men.
If it took him 30 years to write this book, it shows in beautifully crafted passages (such as the jaw-dropping TS Eliot-inspired one at the end) and rich, suitably profane character dialogues that express the complexities of duty, race, fear, courage, and the inevitable chasm between those who have "been there" and those who haven't. As in many of the best books about war, it's clear that the author's experiences have been filtered through much examination. Why do young men kill other young men that they don't even know, in a conflict with unclear motives, over a hill that no one cares about? What is the meaning of this violence? If the answers to such questions lie beyond the edge of moral understanding, Marlantes attempts to pull the reader out to that edge, the place where oblivion negates all conventional logic, and "what matters" comes down to that thinnest layer of self that separates all human action from the indifferent violence of nature.
Is this a perfect book? No. Marlantes' choice to jump unpredictably between different character viewpoints probably would have worked better in a screenplay. Some of his scenes, for all the stirring insight in seemingly off-the-cuff conversations about race, religion, or sex, can't escape feeling intentionally placed to make such points.
Small complaints, though. Ranks with the finest war novels. Good narr, too.
I read the reviews and thought they were probably overstated. I was very wrong. This book is great and I highly recommend it. It rings with authenticity.
You can't stop listening. The suspense and heartache is so real you can feel it. The character development is amazing, you will feel an attachment to each of these soldiers. The problem is some of the situations their commanding officers put them into and their reactions to it are simply too far fetched. They would have the same impact if the author spent a little time coming up with some paperwork mistake or mix up to explain at least the worst of it, but pure nastiness and incompetence on the part of one commanding officer, and stubborn toughness on the part of the soldiers is simply insufficient. It makes an otherwise engulfing and all too believable tale a little too hard to swallow.
This is probably the finest war literature I've ever listened to (or read). This will go down as one of the definitive Vietnam war novel. Bronson Pinchot's grasp of cross-cultural American voices were a perfect complement to his gravelly narration. Just an amazing story, could barely let go of the earphones throughout the read.