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What It Is Like to Go to War | [Karl Marlantes]

What It Is Like to Go to War

In 1969, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of a platoon of forty marines who would live or die by his decisions. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his war experience.
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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the bestselling and award-winning Matterhorn comes a brilliant nonfiction book about war and the psychological and spiritual toll it takes on those who fight.

“I wrote this book primarily to come to terms with my own experience of combat. So far—reading, writing, thinking—that has taken over thirty years.”

In 1969, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of a platoon of forty marines who would live or die by his decisions. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his war experience. In his first work of nonfiction, Marlantes takes a deeply personal and candid look at what it is like to experience the ordeal of combat, critically examining how we might better prepare our soldiers for war.

Just as Matterhorn is already acclaimed a classic of war literature, What It Is Like to Go to War is set to become required reading for anyone—soldier or civilian—interested in this visceral and all-too-essential part of the human experience.

Karl Marlantes, a cum laude graduate of Yale University and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, was a marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten Air Medals. He has lived and traveled all over the world and now writes full time. He and his wife, Anne, have five children and live on a small lake in Washington.

©2011 Karl Marlantes (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A staggeringly beautiful book on combat…[Marlantes] is a natural storyteller and a deeply profound thinker.” (Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (533 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jim Jacksonville, Florida, United States 03-24-13
    Jim Jacksonville, Florida, United States 03-24-13

    Married (1975), Vietnam-era (not in-country) vet (USN Retired), 4 sons, 11 grandkids, love riding my Harley.

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    "Good Psychology Lesson"

    Explains in detail the thought processes, human needs, and resultant feelings of survivor guilt. I really don't know what Marlantes' qualifications are to expound on these. Definitely NOT as good as his novel "Matterhorn".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Hall 08-20-12
    D. Hall 08-20-12 Member Since 2006

    Retired Reader

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    "Battle Weary"
    Where does What It Is Like to Go to War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was a good book. It increased my compassion and empathy for our citizen soldiers. Vietnam and our current crop of wars leave scars that are with us forever.


    What other book might you compare What It Is Like to Go to War to and why?

    Different approach but similar to "The Things They Carried" as both books write about the scars war leaves on our mind and soul - on our very existance.


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

    I did not have a favorite, but I had compassion for each of them.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Wounds of war


    Any additional comments?

    Marlantes went through some painful times. I appreciate his sharing them with us.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Macon, GA, United States 04-12-12
    Jack Macon, GA, United States 04-12-12 Member Since 2013
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    "The tribulations of a brave combat veteran"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book is.in a sense, a companion piece to his novel Matterhorn. In this book, the author tries to bring understanding to the realities of combat, the post traumatic stress disorder, and how to prepare our troops for this.It is a good read, and I recommend Matterhorn also.


    What other book might you compare What It Is Like to Go to War to and why?

    I don't know of another book on this topic.


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    I thought has did very well. He appeared to understand what he was talking about.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It brought sharply to mind the futility of war, especially all the imperial wars our country has fought since WW2.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Bremerton, WA, United States 02-20-12
    Paul Bremerton, WA, United States 02-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The truth of war from a present day warrior!"
    What did you love best about What It Is Like to Go to War?

    I felt the pain and shame of war.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of What It Is Like to Go to War?

    Facing the enemy eye to eye and someone must die. In a way we die or part of us dies.


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    Felt like he wrote the book - he was the authors voice.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Too many to single out.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend reading this one.
    PSavage MD CAPT USN retired

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael MILLIS, MA, United States 10-19-11
    michael MILLIS, MA, United States 10-19-11

    MAJJTM

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    "Well done"

    Thought provoking account of the Marine experience in Vietnam and psychological effects of war on young men.Found myself remembering memories and feelings I thought long forgotten.Sould be required reading for current military leaders and those thinking of joining the military.Content applies to all wars.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 06-22-15
    Saud 06-22-15

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "Haunting, very human"

    I love books that reveal a reality most people are unaware of, and this is such a book. If you want to know the mental costs and altered states of consciousness that soldiers go through, go no further. Some moments are really difficult to listen to, but it is necessary for the sake of understanding.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.L. 11-26-14
    L.L. 11-26-14
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    "Thank you Karl for your honesty"
    What did you love best about What It Is Like to Go to War?

    I loved his honesty, how Karl told the truth even though our socity does not accept the truth. It was very refreshing as he showed the truth underneath throughout the book


    Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

    Canada, I think they can make a movie out of that guy. But it would be a sad ending


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    What a good solider goes through


    Any additional comments?

    I thank you the reader Bronson Pinchot who read the book like he wrote it. Because of the way he read the book, I thought he had written it. very well done. However, in all of Kar's truth and feeling put into the book, I believe Karl wasn't honest in one part of the story he told. I think he wrote what people wanted to hear and I was very disapointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lyn LADY LAKE, FL, United States 08-22-13
    Lyn LADY LAKE, FL, United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2007

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Answers for my generation"
    Where does What It Is Like to Go to War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The most enjoyable and informative book I have ever read


    What was one of the most memorable moments of What It Is Like to Go to War?

    The author's skill at combining personal and acedemic views of experiences.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Mass for the Dead


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    things we should all know for a better world.


    Any additional comments?

    The Viet Nam War was "my" war, I loved and love the boys/men who journeyed there. I have never understood them (or my father in WW2). I am so much closer to that now and have learned so much about humanity. The reader was perfect

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Pickerington, OH, United States 03-15-13
    Christopher Pickerington, OH, United States 03-15-13
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    "Superb Book!!"
    If you could sum up What It Is Like to Go to War in three words, what would they be?

    I didn't like this book...I LOVED this book!!! So informative, and so from-the-heart! I have an even deeper respect for the Marines and ALL of our military personnel!!


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the honesty and candor with which the author wrote. It truly helped open my eyes.
    \


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    Straight-forward speaking.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Thought you knew what happened in 'Nam, get a REAL inside feel for it here!!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Tulsa, OK, United States 02-04-13
    Michael Tulsa, OK, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "I wasn't Impressed at all. Sorry I bought it."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This book was certainly not what I was expecting and was a big disappointment. The story was slow and confusing at times.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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