In the monsoon season of 1968-69 at a fire support base called Matterhorn, located in the remote mountains of Vietnam, a young and ambitious Marine lieutenant wants to command a company to further his civilian political ambitions. Two people stand in his way. The first is a well-loved combat-weary lieutenant his own age who desperately wants out of the bush but who does not want to leave his Marines with an inexperienced and overly ambitious officer. The second is an angry leader of the company’s radical blacks, who has all the political skill, savvy, and ambition of the protagonist.
As the young lieutenant experiences the costs of combat, he sees the terrible results of his actions and begins to question the value of ambition and skill over compassion and heart.
©2010 Karl Marlantes (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Matterhorn is one of the most powerful and moving novels about combat, the Vietnam War, and war in general that I have ever read.” (Dan Rather)
“Brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Unforgettable.… A beautifully crafted novel of unrivaled authenticity and power, filled with jungle heroism, crackerjack inventiveness, mud, blood, brotherhood, hatred, healing, terror, bureaucracy, politics, unfathomable waste, and unfathomable love." (Christina Robb, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist)
Riveting, stunning and gripping. Long story stays solid from start to finish. Great narrator, the writing is superb; close, deep beyond belief and intense. Makes Platoon seem like child's play. The social commentary, which builds towards the end, is relevant and focused and in no way seems preachy. No politics here, just the fog of war shrouded in blood. They say it took the author 30 years to complete this story. I can see why. Recommended.
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
"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain
Matterhorn is enjoyable for many reasons. First, the narrator does a phenomenal job of creating unique character voices throughout the book. There must be 40 different characters - each of whom the Bronson Pinchot somehow creates and maintains unique accents for throughout the book. This made the story come alive.
Secondly, Karl Marlantes was a Marine who served in Vietnam. Although the story is labeled as fiction, it is based on real circumstances and other Marines Marlantes actually served with. As he does in the book, Marlantes wanted to get inside each Marine's thoughts, and labeling the book as fiction is the easiest way to do that.
The accuracy. The book contains a pdf with maps, character lists and rank, terms, etc. Marlantes was a Marine and the book is written from that perspective. It is raw, real, and encompasses many of the real life thoughts these men in combat encounter.
If you're looking for a feel good story about a soldier's heroics, this book is not it. It is a gripping, realistic account of what these men dealt with. Fantastic read!
Marlantes takes you on a roller coaster. Overall the book is very intense, but is filled with humor, racial tensions, drama, action, and the real life feelings of Marines sacrificing themselves for a cause they didn't really understand. The book is very sad, but a very realistic portrait of a tense part of our history.
One of the best books I have listened to on Audible. 10/10 narration, 10/10 writing! If you're debating whether to choose this book, take a plunge! You won't regret it!
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
It's only July but I'm not going out on a limb to say this is the best book I'll read in 2010. This novel made me better appreciate being alive. It also gave me insight into the shit our Marines and other armed forces dealt with in Vietnam, and continue to deal with, unbeknownst to the American population at large. A study in contrasts: life and death, day and night, friends and enemies, good and evil, the iniquities of class and race and the ultimate bankruptcy of all these concepts in the face of the final judgment which is ultimately dealt unto us by ourselves, if we're lucky enough to be conscious at the end. It's a great, rough ride. Thank you, Mr. Marlantes.
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.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
My husband and I listened to this audio book together on two long car trips. If you are offended by the language that soldiers and marines use, be forewarned, this book is full of it. At the same time, know that's how it really is and was. To think that God didn't walk with these brave men then or now in the heat of the battle, I believe is a wrong assumption. For God is surely with us all in the valley. The soldiers of Vietnam, for the most part were kids, just out of high school, naive, just out of boot camp, ready to be marines and win the war. Then they were dropped into a mess that no one ever could have prepared them for. My husband came into the army at the end of the Vietnam war, and thank God, and over his 22 year career never saw combat. Many of our friends were killed in Vietnam or had brothers who were killed or who came back completely changed after the war. This book is a book that every American needs to read or listen to. The truth about what politicians do when they send our young people to war is absolutely gut wrenching. And it continues to happen over and over, and the United States never seems to learn. I'm a mother of two soldiers who have served in Iraq. One of our boys is in Afghanistan right now. I am as patriotic and American as apple pie. But something has happened in America that is absolutely frightening. We don't know who the enemy is anymore.
My bachelor's degree is in History, and I love studying military history, but I was never much interested in the Vietnam War. And, while most of the books I've read dealing with war have been non-fiction, I have read a few war novels that I would consider "great." All Quiet on the Western Front, The Thin Red Line, and The Killer Angels are all books I believe to be great works of fiction based on real events and Matterhorn is on par with all of them.
The author is a Marine who served in Vietnam so the book's authenticity is unquestionable. I can't recommend this highly enough. The story and characters are rich and engaging and the narration by Bronson Pinchot is spot on. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Matterhorn portrays a very realistic view of the war and is a bit different from other Vietnam books. The futility of war is clear in this story, like all wars there is the appearance of the waste of life and equipment fighting to gain a hill etc only to be yanked out and sent elsewhere. I would have preferred less foul language but it was probably what the grunt sounded like at the time. I enjoyed the self discussion the grunts had with themselves about life and death. There are poor officer in any military outfit and Mariantes did an excellent job of presenting a few of the various types but there are a lot of excellent dedicated officers as well and I wished Mariantes had included more of them. The daily struggle of the grunt dealing with filth, leaches, jungle rot was written in a graphic way. The problem with race, Mariantes described during the Vietnam is an area I hope we have improved on over the years. Over all it is a book all politics should read before sending young men to war.
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