Customer Reviews for

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

62 out of 62 people found this review helpful.

Douglas Kidd Alpha 1 - 4 1969

A friend from our company passed the book along to me . Day one : I sat down approx, 1:30 pm . When I next looked at the clock it was midnite ! I was in the same battallion ,only a differnt company and the same year as Mr Marlantes. I was a machine gunner. ...
A friend from our company passed the book along to me . Day one : I sat down approx, 1:30 pm . When I next looked at the clock it was midnite ! I was in the same battallion ,only a differnt company and the same year as Mr Marlantes. I was a machine gunner. By the middle of the first chapter I was putting faces from our platoon to the characters he was writing about . I could not put the book down and when I did it was front and foremost on my mind. It took me back there ! Our companies crisscrossed each other so I was in the same terrain , situations etc . The language he wrote it in is exactly the way we talked, the problems were there, the jungle, leeches, monsoons, no resupplies because the helicopters couldn't fly . We went , I believe , for a 5 day stretch with no food or good water due to torrential rains in the mtns and jungles. He also explained about why we had to go that extra mile when the company was moving and everyone was unimaginably worn to the bone . He described how the " upper echelon " worked according to thier desires not knowing the reality of the jungles . He clearly defined the lines between the " lifers " and the grunts out there on the perimeter who were given no knowledge about anything that was going on only what was required for them to do ...or die trying. When I finished the book , I felt as tho I had just gotten back home . My emotions and nerves were very close to the surface , I had buried them deeply many years ago . I'd like to thank Mr Malantes for the most magnificant read I have ever experianced about being " in country " and the Quang Tri Providance .

posted by dkidd on March 24, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Something Missing - An Ending

I read through the professional and reader reviews of this book after I read it myself. I have read many Vietnam fiction and nonfiction books and..
I can agree with the good descriptions of the local area and battle information. What I have a problem with is the endin...
I read through the professional and reader reviews of this book after I read it myself. I have read many Vietnam fiction and nonfiction books and..
I can agree with the good descriptions of the local area and battle information. What I have a problem with is the ending. So what happens at the end? Things just carry on and Mellas grows as a person?

It feels like Marlantes got tired and just stopped. I think there is much more to say but we will never know because it stops short of providing a good conclusion or even preparing the reader for another volume.

posted by readbookssmb on August 24, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    War is hell.

    I thought I had read some of the best contemporary war writing in Jeff Shaara's work on WWII but even he paled in comparison to Marlantes' truly epic work on Vietnam. The most emotionally draining and exhausting work I've ever read, it is also a page-turner that I couldn't put down. It is brutal, vulgar, painful, amazingly descriptive (you really feel like you're there, even though you don't want to be), shocking, horrifying, but real - because the author (even though it's a novel) was there. It is obvious that he knows what he is writing about. It is a magnum opus by a literary craftsman and a ficticious memoir of a grunt -- not old enough to drink but old enough to die for his country. A powerful combination. Few of us want to relive anything about the Vietnam era, and especially the war, but if they do this is a must read. Absolutely incredible.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Have you "BEEN THERE DONE THAT"? It took all kinds of young men and women of many backgrounds who answered their country's call and did their duty. We did not 'consciously object' or run off to Canada. We didn't really want to be there.

    Having begun reading and still looking forward to the final page, this novel brings to 'life' the 'truth' of what was happening. Although this was a broadcasted war on TV every night the American public had no clue as to what it was like to be there. This novel tells it like it was. Marines, Army, Air Force (as I was), we all have our stories of hell. It's a shame that it took so many years for these heros to be recognized as such. An unpopular war? Yes. Many thousands of young Americans dying? Yes. Each one of them a hero? YES!!!!
    We had a saying back in 1970 when I was there, "The unwilling, being lead by the unqualified, expected to do the impossible, for the ungrateful".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    must read for military historical fiction fans

    I've read EVERYTHING relating to above and never have Iread a book that captures combat as searing, absorbing and frightening as MATTERHORN. those who don't like the book don't like military historical fiction. those who liked "gates of fire" or "killer angels" or b cornwell's stuff will love MATTERHORN.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2012

    "Between the emotion and the response, the desire and the spasm, falls the shadow"

    Simply incredible. I laughed, cried like a babe, had cold sweats with the characters as they waited for the inevitable lead torrent from ambush or concealed gun emplacement. An emotionally draining yet soaring work. A testament from a humble 2nd lieutenancy that points an accusing finger at that funny species called man, bent on mutual destruction. A must read... At the hour when we are Trembling with tenderness Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone. The eyes are not here There are no eyes here In this valley of dying stars In this hollow valley This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms In this last of meeting places We grope together and avoid speech Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    loved it!!!

    It was a slow start for me, flipping to the back to the glossary to understand much of the lingo and difficulty keeping all the names straight. About page 100 it started moving faster and by 200 I could not put it down. I was aghast at all the politics, suffering, and extreme difficulties our marines faced and were put through by their own commanders. We all know the about combat but this was unbelievable and gave me more compassion for what they all went through and did for our country. Even though this is a work of fiction, I have no doubt it is based on real life experiences. It is a beautiful story whether you agree with the war or not!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the top Viet nam era books

    As a combat vet during the tet offensive I would encourage everyone who has ever thought of the horrors of war to read this book. It is a must read for anyone going into the armed services and should be required reading for anyone shipping out to a hostile area. If ever you had a doubt about grunts and young officers who lead them, this is your book. All of the smells and sounds will come back to anyone who served in this theater. Fond, and not so fond memories of c-rats and kool aid will bring a smile to your face while the sound of rain and smell of mud will have you retching. Every 18 year old should read this book before visiting a recruiting office with pen in hand. Kudos to the author and "welcome home brother!"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2010

    Matterhorn: A veteran remembers

    Being a Vietnam veteran I could not wait to compare with my general remembrances of my time spent. This book hits the nail on the head, best Vietnam book since "Naked in DaNang" The general story line is the was the waste of men and material when there is no clear direction for the war which was actually planned on a day to day meeting in Washington.
    The book brought back the wastefulness of the war. I believe it was General Westmorland who once said " the best solution would be to nuke Hanoi and we will all go home!"

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful book

    Once I started Matterhorn I could not put it down. You feel as if you are living the actual horror of the war. Not only th emind set of the Marines but the physical fear, the living condtions, the politics and most of all an honest book. We watched the war on TV, we lost friends in the war, we saw the devastation of those who made it back and now we begin to understnd it a bit more. Thank you for this book and I hope you continue to write to enlighten us. My deepest respect is for all who served in Vietnam.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    Matterhorn is a must-read book for anyone interested in the complex period of the 1960's and early 1970's.

    This historical novel, set in a fictitious area of Viet Nam, follows a company of Marines as they struggle with jungle conditions, political agendas, ambitious superiors, and racial issues, while at the same time waging war against an evasive enemy. The 500-page book drags on like the war that never seemed to end, with characters, who seemed so real, dying and their survivors, including the reader, searching for meaning. The author cleverly introduces and educates the reader about military terms as well as the realities of modern warfare.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I bet John Wayne would not want to star in this one as a movie.

    I have read many books on Vietnam, Every time I pick this one up to read I found it very hard to put down. Particularity to a ex servicemen it should bring back memories of people you had served with. The honesty about how they talked to do away with Battalion Commanders and fragging of others. I also was taken away by the man being eaten by a tiger.
    I was impressed by the five chapters having very little combat, but completely holding my interest. I would think it's another book which only proves you fight for your buddies. If you read (A small place in hell or Street without Joy by Bernard B. Fall) You wonder how did we get there.
    I not very good at book reviews, I thank you for opportunity to express some thoughts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wow!!!

    This book captivated me from the start. It follows the career/exploits of 2nd Lt Waino Mellas from when he first arrives in country for (I'm guessing) about 6-8 months during the middle stages of the Vietnam War (1969.) I suspect that the authors & Lt Mellas' lives are somewhat parallel during this stage. While I was about 5 years too young to have served in Vietnam, I was old enough to be aware of the controversy and anger that surrounded that time in our history. Unlike our current exploits in Iraq and Afganistan, the anger of being involved in Vietnam was taken out on the men & women who served by those in opposition to our involvement. This is captured in "Matterhorn" as well as many of the other social issues prevalent during that time: racial issues including black militancy, drug issues, hippies, etc. In addition, "Matterhorn" also captures the futility felt by the soldiers on the ground when their "superiors" were designing missions for no other reason than to promote themselves politically and career-wise.

    This book is bloody, technical, touching, stimulating, and outstanding!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    A powerful and compelling story of the Vietnam War.

    I just completed reading the Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. A well written powerful story of the Vietnam war, covering what really happened and the sacrifices made by young Americans. It is truly a book the reader, any reader, will be unable to put down. Karl Marlantes has captured in words the real life sacrifices made by our young Marines in one of the most challenging wars ever fought by the United States. His writing style puts the reader into the Vietnam jungle alongside the troops able to experience the action, fear and heartbreak. The characters in Matterhorn are real and while reading, you will feel every emotion they experience. I consider this the best War novel I have read and a must read. Matterhorn provides real insight into the Vietnam war.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    An American soldier come of age on the ground in the Vietnam War.

    Though a novel, no account to date has been written that portrays the raw emotion, thought process and depth of soul of the American soldier fighting on the ground during the course of the Vietnam War. If the reader truly wants to know the experience of combat beyond that of documentary description and and hollow accounts of perceived heroism, this book is a good place to start. All wars are different and all wars are the same. Here the essence of both are captured in vivid and sometimes gut wrenching circumstance. Perhaps some day my grandchildren and their children will read this volume and be able to grasp the event that shaped the course of my generation. From this we came home and history was made. The graphic truth of life and combat in this generation shaping event has not, to date, been better told. Like the protagonist, I too was a fresh young second lieutenant of the time. This story is, in many ways, my story and that of the men I then knew.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Best description of bush Marines ever published.

    The terror and sorrow attributed to battle has previously been documented in many novels about previous wars. But "Matterhorn" captures the agony unique to Viet Nam, which is only recognized by a veteran. I have passed this book around to several Vet friends and always the response is, it brings back everything. Good or bad the response is visceral, because it is so authentic. The book can be dismissed as ordinary only by those who did not serve as a bush Marine. The hundreds of thousands who served in Viet Nam were obviously assigned to a myriad of jobs, This is the gut wrenching story of a few.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Marine Infantryman's Experience in Viet Nam

    There have been several reviews of this book by professional reviewers, all of which describe it as "unforgettable," "riveting," and "unrivaled" in its "authenticity and power" in portraying the American Marine infantryman's (i.e., "grunt's") experience in the Viet Nam war. They are all accurate. Reading it I got the distinct impression that it really isn't a work of fiction, but a much thought-about, insightful, in-depth, detailed and visceral accounting of Mr. Marlantes' own personal experience as a young (and particularly perceptive and intelligent) Marine infantry platoon leader in 1969 Viet Nam, the incredibly ill-conceived and tragically wasteful "police action" that had such a defining impact on his, and my, generation. I spent two years, 1967 to 69, in the Army right out of high school. I did not serve in Viet Nam, but had several friends and acquaintances who did, including 5 who died there. During my time in the Army I heard many stories and accounts of the personal experiences of soldiers and marines who served there. Mr. Marlantes' book, in my opinion, gives the most accurate and comprehensive accounting of that experience that could possibly be written. I think it will be the best representation of the American experience in Viet Nam ever written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Never have I read 600 pp so effortlessly

    This book is an incredible read and an easy read. I don't say "easy" to imply the author uses simple grammar or he goes out of his way to cater to a specific audience. I say "easy" meaning that you can become completely captivated and engrossed in the book and move through the story effortlessly. The story follows all of the minute as-well-as the most massive details of war. It serves as both entertainment and a social and political reminder of the way we live.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Powerful and unforgetable

    A great novel that engages the reader on multiple levels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Attention Vietnam vets

    I bought this for my husband who is not the "reading" kind...BUT...he started this book and has been reading every night. The situaitons are very realistic to the point that he will actually have to stop because it is too close to memories for him. The title was a bit confusing but he has not even mentioned that again. Thanks to the author for placing this powerful story in a format that would encourage a very reluctant reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    Extraordinary, heartbreaking and provocative

    Matterhorn is a piece of American history that is bursting with emotion.
    No one wants to think about the Viet Nam war anymore. But Marine Karl Marlantes has succeeded in putting into words to an experience that is deeply personal and also universal. The story he tells is enthralling, and timeless in its scope and impact. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, it makes the warrior's experience part of your own; it honors our Viet Nam veterans, while raising questions about all wars. Because we are still sending young people to fight and die in remote countries, I would hope that everyone in the Pentagon and Congress, and Secretary Clinton and President Obama read Matterhorn.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lest We Forget

    Those of us who can remember Viet Nam (or even Korea) have been jerked up by the scruff of the neck and and thrown back into a time when war was fought more with people than with smart bombs, drones and computers. His characters are visceral and feelings are raw nerve endings. Mr. Marlantes knew these people and he knew the terrain.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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