1. Story/Plot: This is one of the most stunning, beautiful, moving pieces of literature I have ever read. This writing is beautiful. I have never been in the military, in combat, nor anything close to what Marlantes describes in this novel. However the details are so vivid, so clear that you feel in the thick of it with Bravo company. Some authors get lost in the minutia of a story. Marlantes doesn't, he envelopes you within them, and wraps you up in them, making each detail matter, each detail count. It layers in a sound, a sight, a smell, the palpitation of a heart beat at that moment as you move through this journey with these men. Furthermore Marlantes gives each character depth, real depth. They aren't just characters, they are people. They have humanity, the choices they aren't motivated by cliche, Marlantes gives them perspective, rational, reason, and drive. You never feel as if anyone is an antagonist, each person has made good choices, each person has made bad choices, and each of those choices has deeply affected the men around them, for better or worse.
2. Acting/Voice Work: Pinchot was amazing, utterly exquisite. He gave incredible life to this novel, and the pairing was pitch perfect. This novel does not shy away from complex and accurate descriptions (especially concerning weaponry and military rank) which lends to it's authenticity in story telling, but it risks being confusing. Instead of being confusing, Pinchot seems to have such a clear visual of who and what he's talking about, that everything becomes vivid and clear for the listener as well. Pinchot also does a brilliant job with the accent and dialect work. Marlantes clearly describes geographic location for his characters, it comes up in the small talk of waiting between soldiers, and Marlantes writes certain rhythms and quite regionalisms into the characters. Pinchot captures these pieces, without making them exaggerated or cartoonish. Pinchot sculpts each character beautifully, distinguishing each from the other with subtly and detail.
It is just a big story set in a hot and smothering jungle an it is really well read with the voices of a dozen or more characters all unique and easy to identify. Just well done.
A friend said he thought of Catch 22 when he read Matterhorn and I can see why. Violence, power, war, death, life... it's all there.
The main character is just very well read by Bronson, as are the rest, really.
I tried to start this audiobook more than once and had a hard time getting through the beginning, but after I finally pushed through the start, I couldn't stop listening. Even if you have never listened to a "war" book before you need to give this one a chance. Marlantes puts you right there with vibrant descriptions of the atmosphere the soldiers experinced in Vietnam, along with the feeling that tragedy could strike at any minute from anywhere. The danger is not limited to only the enemy but political, natural and internal monsters as well.
Pinchot is brilliant as a narrator and has quickly become a favorite of mine. He never over does it, and he is as smooth as silk.
If you have ever wanted to get a better grasp on this historic time in our country's history, and be entertained at the same time download this now.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
Matterhorn is up there with my favourites, partially because of the masterful narration that really made the book for me.
It was not a specific moment. It was the metamorphosis of Mellas into a sensitive human being that was the most memorable. Each and every character in this book was memorable. I kept wanting to know what was happening to Mallory and his headaches, and all the various characters had palpable personalities. The voices portrayed by Bronson Pinchot helped to differentiate the different characters and gave the book even more life than the printed word had all on its own. A wonderful, sad, disturbing but triumphant book.
I am glad that I read this book. Not only for the entertainment (if one could call it that) value, but because, living in Canada, I had very little connection with the Vietnam War. We all heard about it and saw pictures of the vets coming home to boos and criticism, but I could never had imagined the workings of the war and the daily agony of the soldiers, fighting such an unpopular war.
No, this is my first of his performances and I would seek another book narrated by him.
To be honest, I needed breaks from the tension and the heartbreak of this book. I could not have listened in one sitting.
Devastating, heartbreaking, brilliant
The most memorable comes near the end but I don't want to give away what happens
Mellas leading his platoon on the assault on Matterhorn, remembering what he'd learned at training and seeing the opportunities unfold
Hawke, who ties everyone together
I mourned when the story ended and did not want to leave that world
I read. What more is there to know?
Perhaps the best audiobook I've listened to so far. It's difficult to believe that Bronson Pinchot voiced all of the characters, he's simply that spot on with such a diverse group of characters.
Incredible story read by an incredible talent.
I have a commute of 62 miles each way every day. This book made me yearn for my car, Marlantes' words and Pinchot's voice. I'm not a very literary person and it's hard to put into words the depths of despair I felt when listening to this book. I was in high school at the end of the Vietnam war and, until I listened to this book, I had no idea of the suffering of the men who were put into the jungle. I will never truly know. All I can say is that I have lost sleep over this book. I want to reach out to the veterans and touch them and weep. I grieve for them. I thank them with all my heart.
Mr. Marlantes made me feel as though I was with the soldiers every step of their journey. He made their fear, their suffering, their existence palpable. I wish I could thank him in person for his persistence and his ability to endure. I am fortunate to bear witness to the greatness of his gifts as a writer and as a human being.
Mr. Pinchot was superb. His ability to modulate his voice and sound like different people was simply astounding. He captures the tone, the nuances of each character and imbues them with personality. His performance was beyond compare and I am surprised that he has not received more accolades for his work. He is pure genius.
I would not rename the book. I know, however, that it is a description of the battle of Hamburger Hill.
This is, by far, the most horrific, terrifying, brutal and beautiful of books that exists. I rank it among the top five books that have affected my view on life.
This novel of the Vietnam War follows the marines of Bravo Company through a single monsoon season as they hump through the jungle to establish a landing zone that is never used and fight their way up to retake positions that they were commanded to abandon. The company forms a tribe who are fiercely loyal to one another. They fight more for the honor of the company than for the top brass, whose military objectives change and whose orders are motivated more by ambition and ego than by any overall strategy.
Marlantes's characters jump off the page and into your consciousness. Each brings with him a piece of his background -- Cortell's deeply felt Christianity, Cassidy's redneck bigotry, Goodwin's hunting instincts, Mellas's Princeton-trained analytical skills. Bronson Pichot's reading helps individualize the characters, from the Georgia cracker twang of Cassidy to Hawke's Boston accent, to the reserved iinflections of the urban blacks like Jackson and China. Most amazingly -- Marlantes is able to put us inside the mind of the marines when they are facing death -- their own or the prospect of killing the North Vietnamese soldiers, whom they hate but have come to respect as disciplined fighters.
This novel accurately captures the late 1960's, a period that is too often caricatured and oversimplified. Unlike the army, in which the enlisted men were largely draftees, the Marine Corps was made up of volunteers who wanted to become part of a disciplined fighting force. Men like Hawke and Mellas have faced the disapproval of friends who oppose the war and of girlfriends who left them for someone who stayed in the States and protested the war. The Blacks, like Cortell, Jackson, and China, are torn between the bonds of race and the shared experience with bigotry and their loyalty to the corps. The war-of-attrition strategy that made "body count," into a nightly news staple, is demystified.
Much of the book is told from the point of view of 2nd Lieutenant Mellas, the Princeton grad who hopes to go on to law school and use his USMC experience in politics, His reflections on life, and death and the meaning of each are worthy of Camus, but they don't slow down the action of the book.
Just one suggestion -- it helps to download the pdf files of command structure and maps when you're starting out. Once you're into the books, the characters will live for you as individuals, and you will be so caught up in the action that the maps won't matter much.
Before listening to Matterhorn, I didn't really understand what a life altering book really meant. Now I do. This novel of the Vietnam War really brings it to life. While growing up during that era, and having brothers in the war, it was always distant, impersonal. Now its personal. This novel follows a company of Marines as they take the hill called "Matterhorn", then abandon it, then take it again. All on the orders of a colonel who only cares about his chances of promotion. Men join the company, are killed or injuried, and are replaced. This novel digs into the interpersonal interactions of the Marines, including the first war fought with integrated troops, Blacks alongside Hispanics alongside Whites. Wow. I will never look on war/conflict in the news or in comic strips or books the same ever again. I highly recommend this novel.
The story and characters really sucked me in. Also make sure and review the accompanying PDF file to see all the lingo and maps. I sometimes get bored with longer audio books and will take a break and listen to a shorter one. I listened to this straight thru and was sad to have it end.