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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 (289 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rodney A. Zemke Woodbury, MN USA 06-20-12
    Rodney A. Zemke Woodbury, MN USA 06-20-12

    Retired. Have been listening to book since 1977.

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    "Every American should have to read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    People should know what it is like to go to war.


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

    Saving Private Ryan


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

    NA


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

    The dream that Marlantes experienced


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Macon, GA, United States 04-12-12
    Jack Macon, GA, United States 04-12-12 Member Since 2005
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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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pepin Raleigh, NC, US 12-16-11
    John Pepin Raleigh, NC, US 12-16-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Best book I've ever read on the warrior experience"

    I turned 18 in 1973, and Vietnam was not really in-scope for me as it became obvious the war was winding down as I finished high school and I was likely not to get called up. I have always wondered what it was really like for the people who served there. This book is it. The author is a former Rhodes scholar who entered the Marines for reasons he describes and fought well, earning a number of commendations. He is one of our nations best. He went through hell, both physically and emotionally and is very open about his thoughts and experiences, and the guilt and other feelings afterwards. He describes the difficulties in making the transition back to normal life with a number of observations and suggestions which make a lot of sense and are worthy of being acted on. This book is a vital part of our nation???s history. Well-written and easy to follow.

    This is a very important book for anyone who wants to understand what the people who served in Vietnam went through, both in-country and on the home front when they got back. A must listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 09-13-11
    Tim United States 09-13-11 Member Since 2010

    Not a mainstream reader.

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    "Wrong Title for the Content"

    I was looking forward to this book because I really liked Marlantes' previous title, Matterhorn. If you are expecting another epic story like Matterhorn, this book is not for you. "What It Is Like to Go to War" is Marlantes' own commentary on war. The book lacks his own background of his involvement with war, but yet he gives a lot of personal theories on the subject. I knew what I was getting into by getting this book, base on its title. I'm a bit let down because I was expecting more of what is like to go to war, like the draft and brotherhood among the soldiers, family and after the war. I'm sorry, but this book does not fits the title. Marlantes does not do a good job at What It Is Like to Go to War. I wanted more background instead of personal views. I didn't mind at listening to his opinions, but I wanted more facts to backup his examples. He wrote this book to be almost like a chick book, like Danielle Steel. There is too much emotion and not enough grit to remember what you just read.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anniemel Central Louisiana 09-18-12
    Anniemel Central Louisiana 09-18-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Won't finish reading it"
    Would you try another book from Karl Marlantes and/or Bronson Pinchot?

    No. He failed me.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Karl Marlantes again?

    No.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Leave out the profanity. I am offended by cursing and especially blaspheming the name of God's Son. I don't do it myself and I do not like to hear it directly into my earphones.


    Did What It Is Like to Go to War inspire you to do anything?

    Yes, to delete it from my library.


    Any additional comments?

    I was hoping to understand my son's feelings as he has just returned with a Purple Heart from Afghanistan. I get it that moral boundaries are crossed in warfare. I also get it that war changes people and it will take a lifetime of maturing to integrate the changes and come to acceptance of the changes. I was looking for more immediate healing. I only heard Mr. Marlantes venting his own sorrow as lament. I was not stirred to empathize with him and deleted the book disappointed and more needy than when I downloaded it.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 05-14-12
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 05-14-12 Member Since 2009
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    "So So."

    I am a Nam Vet also. I did not find this book as interesting as I thought I would. It was ok. Nothing that great.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    10-26-11
    10-26-11
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    "Great Listen"

    I really enjoyed this title, this was a great listen, excellent job by the narrator.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 01-29-13
    Jack St Petersburg, FL, United States 01-29-13 Member Since 2011

    Blind Vietnam veteran. Antique weapons collector. Outdoor enthusiast. Florida State University graduate with Business major. Owner of home health agency. registered nurse.

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    "Every Combat Vet Needs To Read This Book"

    A great essay on what it means to be shot at and to shoot back. My only complaint was that it tended to be a bit long, but it was a great read. I would like to meet the author and shake his hand.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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