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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.

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

Critic Reviews

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

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Zachary
  • Ocean Grove, Australia
  • 04-20-10


One of the best books I've ever downloaded at ''
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.

153 of 157 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

97 of 101 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Chesapeake, VA, USA
  • 04-23-10

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!

90 of 94 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • Roseville, CA, United States
  • 04-30-10

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.

88 of 94 people found this review helpful

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  • rhl60
  • Jamestown MA, United States
  • 04-20-10

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

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Glen
  • Ogden, UT, United States
  • 05-24-10

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.

379 of 418 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 07-14-14

Raw, In the Jungle Account of Vietnam War

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.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • 04-11-10

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.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-04-13

Sad, moving, traumatic, large AND important

"There was no filling the holes of death. The emptiness might be filled up by other things over the years -- new friends, children, new tasks -- but the holes would remain."

There have been books I've read fast before because they were exciting. There have been books that I've read before because they were funny. This is a book that was sad, moving, traumatic, large and important. I didn't nibble. I quickly gulped; cried, then gulped again. You can feel the soul that went into writing this book and the lives that went into giving this book meaning.

This novel belongs on the shelf strategically next to: 'War and Peace', 'The Things They Carried', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'Red Badge of Courage', and 'The Naked and the Dead'.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • trevor
  • 10-05-10

amazing listen

this book was recommended to me by a few people and it never failed to live up to the hype . it is read superbly and you get a feeling for everyone in the book love or hate them it leaves a lasting impression at the end as there mission just seems to get worse. its a powerfull book and although its a story about vietnam you cant help thinking all the way through that kind of stuff happened all the time over there which in itself makes the audiobook even more powerfull i myself now recommend it to everyone reading this .

  • Overall
  • Phil R
  • 09-04-10


I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has the slightest interest in Vietnam war stories. It is long but worth every second.
It is graphic, sometimes very graphic however this is one book i look forward to listening to again.

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  • Rowan
  • 08-30-10

A military story but a good one

It?s a military book for sure. There are lots of military stories out there to buy but this one is a beaut. It?s a pretty long one but didn?t feel it. It?s a fully rounded book was sad to have it end. I highly recommend.