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Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War | [Karl Marlantes]

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Why we think it’s a great listen: A performance so poignant, we gave Bronson Pinchot (yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers) our inaugural Narrator of the Year award.... 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. But two people stand in his way.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2010 Karl Marlantes (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Zachary Ocean Grove, Australia 04-20-10
    Zachary Ocean Grove, Australia 04-20-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    111
    ratings
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    "Matterhorn"

    One of the best books I've ever downloaded at 'audible.com'
    I listened to this novel continuously, stopping only to sleep.
    Basically I ignored the world and lost myself in the story of a company of US Marines, pushed to their mental and physical limits in the jungles of Vietnam.
    It's not easy listening. It's not a novel for those who are offended by foul language and graphic depictions of men lost in the madness of war.
    It's excruciatingly tense. The suspense is sharp and will have you fidgeting and the actual combat scenes will put you in the fight and have your stomach in knots
    Matterhorn is harrowing. The whole book is filled with the despair, futility and stupidity that war brings. . . but on the flip side it's full of heroism, brotherhood and sacrifice.

    I felt rage, sadness, elation and despair whilst listening to this book. That makes it great
    I loved it.

    108 of 110 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Barach Boston, MA 06-22-10
    Michael Barach Boston, MA 06-22-10 Member Since 2001

    Gadget lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
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    3
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    "Extraordinary literature"

    This is one of the best audio books I've listened to in a long time. The writing is masterful, at times poetic, always insightful and full of character development. The author is able to take the listener to the front lines of a brutal war, and fly above the fray with musings on the nature of life. The reader, Bronson Pinchot, is extraordinarily skillful, flawlessly capturing a large cast of characters with distinct dialects.

    I'd suggest downloading the free sample Kindle version of this book and just bookmarking the first page that lists key characters in the book and their respective hierarchy--it just makes it easier to get into the first couple of hours.
    This is a tour de force, and a remarkable first novel.





    81 of 83 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Chesapeake, VA, USA 04-23-10
    John Chesapeake, VA, USA 04-23-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
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    2
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    "Awesome Book"

    I am going to have to change the answer to all my favorite book password questions to "Matterhorn." Its well-drawn characters, compelling subject and powerful storyline are a stunning achievement from a new author. Its definitely worth a credit, maybe even two and the 21 hours of listening. Even before it was over, I went looking for another by the same author. The narrator may be the best I have ever heard and I have listened to well over 100 audibooks.
    Listen to this book!

    81 of 84 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 04-30-10
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 04-30-10 Member Since 2006

    Don't you just love a great story well told?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "and you THOUGHT you knew everything about Vietnam"

    This book is unique in that it lists all the awful day-to-day suffering of a Marine besides fighting the enemy that NO ONE ever put into the movies! It reads like a journal. It is engrossing.

    This author lets you feel the suffering and you listen in awe of the heroic feats (like marching in full gear without any food for days) and proud of the soldiers who managed to just live, much less fight, under the worst possible conditions.

    Unglamorous but no less worthy of mention are all the things you didn't realize were such scourge such as: a constant struggle against leeches, wearing filthy clothes for weeks, foot rot & ringworm that often bordered often on gangrenous limbs, racial bigotry within units (destroyed is the myth that Vietnam era soldiers all got along fine and were past any bigotry due to the "peace & love" movement), "career officer" making bad decisions just to impress their superiors, battle body counts that were fudged just to look good to whoever needed those numbers.

    Also noted is how the new and constant use of RADIO from the central command post to field soldiers led to a *terrible disconnect* freeing those issuing absurd orders from feeling the devastating effects on the men who executed those orders.

    This book nicely avoids many of true but horrid cliches that we've ALL heard by now such as; "We had to burn the the village to save it."

    Obviously this is not the "feel-good" book of the year.

    However I am very glad I read this book. I have even greater understanding and respect for the men who, despite nearly constant suffering, (BESIDES the awful direct combat) the soldiers withstood while fighting in Vietnam.

    This audio book is excellently produced & narrated.

    77 of 80 people found this review helpful
  •  
    USA 04-06-10
    USA 04-06-10 Member Since 2000

    firemirage

    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
    ratings
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    33
    6
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    "Great Listen"

    The story was riveting, characters you care about. Gives a whole new perspective to the tribulations of the bush soldiers in Nam. I hope Marlantes writes a sequel.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kathryn Boulder, CO, United States 09-21-10
    kathryn Boulder, CO, United States 09-21-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Outstanding."

    I was a child when this book took place and knew nothing about Vietnam. This book taught me a lot of things that all Americans need to understand about Vietnam and the kids who fought there. As a parent now I realize what a sacrifice it is for people who send their children to war - even wars that seem to have an honorable purpose. War, even the "good" ones will always devolve into madness and futility. This is a must read for anyone interested in Vietnam. The narration was one of the best I have heard - multiple characters in recognizable voices.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Dame Scottsdale, Az 04-11-10
    Jeffrey Dame Scottsdale, Az 04-11-10 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    174
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    "5 Star, Top Pick, Must Buy"

    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.

    39 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tod Mahony Rhode Island 07-02-10
    Tod Mahony Rhode Island 07-02-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    "Best book of 2010"

    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.

    28 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glen Ogden, UT, United States 05-24-10
    Glen Ogden, UT, United States 05-24-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A First For Me . . . And The Last"

    I want to write something meaningful. I suppose all I can say is that it transports the listener from their comfortable SUV or livingroom, halfway around the globe to another world entirely! The story is real, the blood is red, the language is foul, the drugs and alcohol are numbing, the racism is injected into everything, and the futility of this deplorable chapter in our history hangs over the entire account like a dirty blanket. If this is what you want, if you are curious as to why so many who came back from this "conflict" only to discover they can never quite get all the way back, then this book is for you.

    I was there as an Army aviator, in country 1966 - 1967, spent some time living with forward outfits but also enjoyed air conditioned villas. I spent every day in support of combat operations in one way or another, day and night - listening to their cries of victory as well as their pain, anguish and calls for fire support, napalm and med-evac. I discovered that I don't need or want to go back to that place again. I have gotten on with my life reasonably undamaged by the experience for which thing I feel blessed. I ache for those I know who have not been so lucky. For me, the experience of opening this Pandora's Box was like sticking my finger in a live light socket to see if it would shock me. It did, and I KNEW it would.

    So about the book, it was well crafted and had great, very realistic characters. I "knew" many of them. The author took extra care to be graphic, and it seemed that was his intent from the onset. I cannot fault this effort from a literary standpoint at all, but for me it should have been left alone.

    On a happier note, this book re-affirmed my resolve made decades ago, to stop often to "smell the roses" and to give thanks for my small station in life today. I remain proud of my service then, but not so proud of the spineless politicians who failed me, and my brothers in arms at that time.

    314 of 346 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Cambridge, MA, United States 04-20-10
    Richard Cambridge, MA, United States 04-20-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    73
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    "A tale well told...."

    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

    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
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