What It Is Like to Go to War [NOOK Book]

Overview


From the author of the award-winning, best-selling novel Matterhorn, comes a brilliant nonfiction book about war

In 1968, 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 ...
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What It Is Like to Go to War

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Overview


From the author of the award-winning, best-selling novel Matterhorn, comes a brilliant nonfiction book about war

In 1968, 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 What It Is Like to Go to War, 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. Marlantes weaves riveting accounts of his combat experiences with thoughtful analysis, self-examination, and his readings—from Homer to The Mahabharata to Jung. He makes it clear just how poorly prepared our nineteen-year-old warriors are for the psychological and spiritual aspects of the journey.

Just as Matterhorn is already being acclaimed as acclaimed as 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Karl Marlantes' 2010 debut Matterhorn was a Discover Great New Writers selection and a Barnes & Noble fiction bestseller. Now this former Marine Corps officer and Rhodes Scholar follows up that Vietnam war novel with an awe-striking nonfiction book about the experience of combat and its often traumatic aftermath. Drawing deeply on his own combat experiences, he describes the whirlwinds of emotions and almost instantaneous life-and-death decision-making that modern warfare entails. This is a powerful book that cuts across party and ideological lines. Editor's recommendation.

Marc Leepson
…brilliant…a well crafted and forcefully argued work of nonfiction that contains fresh and important insights into what it's like to be in a war and what it does to the human psyche. At heart, the book is a from-the-gut psychological and philosophical meditation on what happens to human beings in combat and afterward. In delivering those insights, Marlantes recreates his own wartime experience and his subsequent decades of emotional difficulties.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Marlantes, author of the highly acclaimed novel Matterhorn, reflects in this wrenchingly honest memoir on his time in Vietnam: what it means to go into the combat zone and kill and, most importantly, what it means to truly come home. After graduating from Yale, Marlantes attended Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. But not wanting to hide behind privilege while others fought in his place, he left Oxford in 1967 to ship out to Vietnam as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He eschews straight chronology for a blend of in-country reporting and the paradoxical sense of both fear and exhilaration a soldier feels during war. Most importantly, Marlantes underscores the need for returning veterans to be counseled properly; an 18-year-old cannot "kill someone and contain it in a healthy way." Digging as deeply into his own life as he does into the larger sociological and moral issues, Marlantes presents a riveting, powerfully written account of how, after being taught to kill, he learned to deal with the aftermath. Citing a Navajo tale of two warriors who returned home to find their people feared them until they learned to sing about their experience, Marlantes learns the lesson, concluding, "This book is my song," (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“Karl Marlantes has written a staggeringly beautiful book on combat—what it feels like, what the consequences are and above all, what society must do to understand it. In my eyes he has become the preeminent literary voice on war of our generation. He is a natural storyteller and a deeply profound thinker who not only illuminates war for civilians, but also offers a kind of spiritual guidance to veterans themselves. As this generation of warriors comes home, they will be enormously helped by what Marlantes has written—I’m sure he will literally save lives.”—Sebastian Junger

“Marlantes brings candor and wrenching self-analysis to bear on his combat experiences in Vietnam, in a memoir-based meditation whose intentions are three-fold: to help soldiers-to-be understand what they’re in for; to help veterans come to terms with what they’ve seen and done; and to help policymakers know what they’re asking of the men they send into combat.”—The New Yorker

What It Is Like to Go to War is a well-crafted and forcefully argued work that contains fresh and important insights into what it’s like to be in a war and what it does to the human psyche.”—The Washington Post

“Marlantes is the best American writer right now on war . . . With What It Is Like to Go to War a second Marlantes book resides on the top shelf of American literature.”—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

What It Is Like to Go to War ought to be mandatory reading by potential infantry recruits and by residents of any nation that sends its kids—Marlantes’s word—into combat.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“In this thoughtful, literate work of self-exorcism, Marlantes tells tales of incredible bravery as well as brutality.”—People Magazine

“A precisely crafted and bracingly honest book."—The Atlantic

“Marlantes knows what he writes. . . Raw, unsettling honesty pervades the work.”—Time.com

“Marlantes has written a sparklingly provocative nonfiction book. . . He is an exceptional writer and his depictions here are vivid.”—BookPage

“A gripping, first-person plea to consider the impact on the human spirit of being a soldier.”—Huffington Post

“Karl Marlantes, author of the excellent What It Is Like To Go To War, cautions his audience to understand the cost to the human psyche in sending others to kill in our names or for policies decided by politicians determined to use (and abuse) the power entrusted to their office.”—Daily Planet

“Karl Marlantes’ What It Is Like to Go to War is a deeply personal account of dealing with his harrowing time as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam. . . . Marlantes’ fiction might be just too wrenching for some readers to believe.”—Logos

“This absolutely unique and lucid personal account and analysis will be read with profit by scholars, general readers, and most particularly, by veterans of close combat. . . . The author is qualified by experience, education, temperament, and skill as a writer to make penetrating observations. Many are graphic, bold, and shocking. Some are erudite; some are ethereal; all are worthy of careful consideration. . . . His method is to reflect on a point important to him, to illustrate it with an anecdote or a combat experience, and to mull it over in sparkling prose that has the reader hanging on every word. . . . Mastery of our language and the creative use of poetic devices and images make his pronouncements memorable. . . . Marlantes has joined a short list of authors whose experience, sensitivity, and skill enable them to share wisdom with those among us who would understand.”—Parameters

What it is Like to Go to War is already considered by many a modern classic. . . . The former Marine has three main goals in this unflinchingly honest look at what it means to be a soldier in a war: to let potential soldiers understand what to expect, to help veterans better cope with what they’ve experienced, and to help policy makers truly comprehend what it means when they send combat troops into a war zone.”—Bradenton Herald

“To say that this book is brilliant is an understatement—Marlantes is the absolute master of taking the psyche of the combat veteran and translating it into words that the civilian or non-veteran can understand. I have read many, many books on war and this is the first time that I've ever read exactly what the combat veteran thinks and feels—nothing I have ever read before has hit home in my heart like this book.”—Gunnery Sergeant Terence D’Alesandro, 3rd Batallion, 5th Marines, U.S. Marine Corps

“Wrenchingly honest. . . . Digging as deeply into his own life as he does into the larger sociological and moral issues, Marlantes presents a riveting, powerfully written account of how, after being taught to kill, he learned to deal with the aftermath.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A valiant effort to explain and make peace with war’s awesome consequences for human beings.”—Kirkus Reviews

What It Is Like to Go to War offers profound insight on how we must prepare our youth who become our warriors for their hard and uncompromising journey through war’s hell and back home again.”—Vietnam Magazine

“With war such a part of contemporary American life, this book is deeply important, as timely and urgent as contemporary on-the-ground reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq.”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A sound debunking of anything smacking of the glory of warfare—but written with compassion, honest and wit for men and now women who fight and for all of those who care about them.”—St. Louis Dispatch

“A slim spiritual guide. . . Marlantes’s book is a sincere plea for better soldiers and veterans.”—Seattle Weekly

What It Is Like to Go to War is a courageous, noble and intelligent grapple with myth, history, and spirituality that beautifully elevates the cultural conversation on the role of the military in today’s world. It is an emotional, honest, and affecting primer for all Americans on war and the national psyche, and we ignore this book at our own peril.”—Ed Conklin, Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara

Library Journal
Writing primarily to come to terms with his own experience in combat, Marlantes (Matterhorn) delivers an excruciatingly honest and insightful reflection of how a soldier subjectively processes war, death, killing, and surviving. We follow his narrative and self-examination from the Vietnamese jungle, where he fought as a marine, to coming home to a public reception as a soldier and an inward acceptance as an individual engaged in the timeless human battle. Not seeking acceptance of conflict and destruction, not a raw account bent on preaching pacifism as a substitute for war, his book instead urges us to recognize the feeling of transcendence and the psychological and spiritual intensity of war and to develop an awareness of its costs. VERDICT A gutting look into the psyche of a soldier, adding flesh to the often flat and stereotyped personage. Humanizing, empathetic, and wise, this reading experience will light corners in the human experience often judged dark.—Ben Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews

A manual for soldiers or anyone interested in what can happen to mind, body and spirit in the extreme circumstances of war.

Decorated Vietnam veteran Marlantes is also the author of a bestselling novel (Matterhorn, 2010), a Yale graduate and Rhodes scholar. His latest book reflects both his erudition and his battle-hardness, taking readers from the Temple of Mars and Joseph Campbell's hero's journey into the hell of combat and its grisly aftermath. That Marlantes has undertaken such a project implies his acceptance of war as a permanent fact of human life. We go to war, he says, "reluctantly and sadly" to eliminate an evil, just as one must kill a mad dog, "because it is a loathsome task that a conscious person sometimes has to do." He believes volunteers rather than conscripts make the best soldiers, and he accepts that the young, who thrill at adventure and thrive on adrenaline, should be war's heavy lifters. But apologizing for war is certainly not one of the strengths, or even aims, of the book. Rather, Marlantes seeks to prepare warriors for the psychic wounds they may endure in the name of causes they may not fully comprehend. In doing that, he also seeks to explain to nonsoldiers (particularly policymakers who would send soldiers to war) the violence that war enacts on the whole being. Marlantes believes our modern states fail where "primitive" societies succeeded in preparing warriors for battle and healing their psychic wounds when they return. He proposes the development of rituals to practice during wartime, to solemnly pay tribute to the terrible costs of war as they are exacted, rather than expecting our soldiers to deal with them privately when they leave the service. He believes these rituals, in absolving warriors of the guilt they will and probably should feel for being expected to violate all of the sacred rules of civilization, could help slow the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans.

A valiant effort to explain and make peace with war's awesome consequences for human beings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802195142
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 145,327
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Karl Marlantes

A graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Karl Marlantes served as 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 is the author of Matterhorn, which won numerous prizes, including the William E. Colby Award given by the Pritzker Military Library, the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the 2011 Indies' Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year, and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's James Webb Award for Distinguished Fiction. He lives in rural Washington.
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Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 Temple of Mars 1

2 Killing 6

3 Guilt 48

4 Numbness and Violence 61

5 The Enemy Within 80

6 Lying 114

7 Loyalty 134

8 Heroism 155

9 Home 176

10 The Club 208

11 Relating to Mars 220

Afterword 255

Acknowledgments 257

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2011

    Very good reading for anyone who is a veteran of the Vietman War and also for anyone living with a veteran of that era.

    I originally purchased this for my husband, a Vietnam veteran who has suffered from PTSD and other after effects of the war for 40 years. My husband found this book very accurate in portraying what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Some parts brought back memories for him of horrible times, and others brought back great memories of fellow soldiers. He highly recommends this to anyone who served in Vietman.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    I am amazed at the courage it took to write this book. Those wh

    I am amazed at the courage it took to write this book. Those who have experienced the depth of this man's military experience, either by serving the country in a war or by serving people in other extraordinary ways, will relate to the meaning of this book and be impacted by its message. It requires deep and thoughtful reading.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Do you REALLY want to know?

    Read this book and find out what it does to the soul and psyche of "temporary" life takers.Drills down to the root without novacaine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Great Read

    Anyone who served in Vietnam should read, Semper Fi

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    Not what I expected

    Less about what it is like to go to war which is really what I was hoping to get some incite on and more of his philosophy of what it should be.

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 11, 2012

    Great book

    Fantastic to read, also a great audio book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Bli. npmmi

    Pktk.bnnmy

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2011

    Good

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 26, 2011

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    Posted January 25, 2012

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    Posted October 7, 2011

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    Posted October 21, 2011

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    Posted November 26, 2012

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    Posted June 3, 2012

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    Posted October 12, 2011

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    Posted June 1, 2012

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