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.
It took me two weeks after reading this book to pry it out of my soul. I couldn't even sum up words to review it, nor pass judgement on this story. It was like it was still inside my head influencing my thoughts about humanity, politics, history, and my friends over in the dessert getting blown up by extremists. No doubt your brain will need a serotonin boost after listening to this, because it brings you down into a very dark place. It gave me some much needed perspective on my life, and I hope it will do the same for you. I believe this is a must read for anyone who is unaware/in denial of the high price of war...especially undeclared wars.
I would urge friends to read this. First, it is the definitive Vietnam War novel. More importantly it is a beautifully written, provocative meditation on life, death, loyalty, bravery, race, class and the struggle to be a decent human being in a crazy, cruel and capricious world.
The detail is searing, taking you into jungle warfare in a way that reminds me of the way the movie, Das Boot, puts you on a German U-boat. But Matterhorn doesn't leave you there. It takes you on an evocative journey into the dark and brilliant landscapes of the human soul.
Bronson Pinchot has astounding range. Not sure I wanted to spend hours listening to Balki from Perfect Strangers, I was blown away by his reading.
I listened to this book as someone who is not a history or war buff. But I truly did enjoy this story and the character development. I became deeply involved with the characters and their desperate desire for survival, laid over the political and racial tensions of the day.
Matterhorn chronicles the gut-wrenching existences of a company of Marines at war in the jungle of Vietnam. It is mainly seen through the eyes of a young second lieutenant Mellas who is transformed by the callused and extraordinary reality of the Vietnam War that is difficult to understand without having experienced it. Marlantes, who did experience it, tells his story in a personal manner that envelopes the listener in the lives of each of the Marines. They see and enact extraordinary courage, fear, longing, suffering, and sacrifice. Meaning in their missions is often elusive, and they live in the constant shadow of death’s indiscretion and seemingly random timing. This all takes place with the backdrop of the struggle in differences in class, race, and the military hierarchy. The Vietnam was a war before my time, and Marlantes brings it forward to the present, adding a realism that is not fully portrayed by major Hollywood films.