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Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam Warby Karl Marlantes
"War has always been a rich source for literary excavation. From The Iliad to War and Peace, from All Quiet on the Western Front to The Things They Carried, writers have drawn rich and universal insights from the depths of the most horrendous experiences that humanity has faced.
Vietnam is no different. Tim O'Brien, Bao Ninh, Larry Heinemann — the list of authors whose work is rooted in that conflict is long and illustrious. Now we can add Karl Marlantes to those rolls. Marlantes's debut novel, Matterhorn, is the epic story of young men pushed to the edge in the jungles of Vietnam, and of how they respond." (read the entire Powells.com Interview)
Powerful. Words melt away, immersing me into a predator-infested jungle. Soon to be a classic.
Matterhorn is not only the best novel yet written about the Vietnam War, it's one of the best written by any American in recent memory. Engrossing, compelling, and absolutely devastating. No wonder it took 30 years to write.
Synopses & Reviews
"Thirty years in the making, Marlantes's epic debut is a dense, vivid narrative spanning many months in the lives of American troops in Vietnam as they trudge across enemy lines, encountering danger from opposing forces as well as on their home turf. Marine lieutenant and platoon commander Waino Mellas is braving a 13-month tour in Quang-Tri province, where he is assigned to a fire-support base and befriends Hawke, older at 22; both learn about life, loss, and the horrors of war. Jungle rot, leeches dropping from tree branches, malnourishment, drenching monsoons, mudslides, exposure to Agent Orange, and wild animals wreak havoc as brigade members face punishing combat and grapple with bitterness, rage, disease, alcoholism, and hubris. A decorated Vietnam veteran, the author clearly understands his playing field (including military jargon that can get lost in translation), and by examining both the internal and external struggles of the battalion, he brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences. Marlantes's debut may be daunting in length, but it remains a grand, distinctive accomplishment." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Visceral...Evocative...We feel the Marines exhaustion as they dig gun pits, carry dead and wounded comrades, and nearly die from hunger....We hear the scream of the M-16s, the thunk of mortar shells, the hammering of AK-47s and the crack of bullets. We smell the stink of fear, blood and unwashed bodies....[Marlantes] pitches us into a harrowing narrative we wont soon forget.” USA Today
“I've laughed at Catch-22 and wept at The Thin Red Line, but Ive never encountered a war novel as stark, honest and wrenching as Matterhorn....By turns, this book horrified me, crushed me and beat me up, but I found it nearly impossible to stop reading. More than any living American novelist I've read, Marlantes made me feel what I already must have known: that war is worse than hell.” NPR
"[T]he Vietnam novel has come of age, and this is a worthy addition to the genre....An engrossing chronicle of men at war." Booklist
"The battle scenes, at which the author excels, are frequent, brutal, and viscerally energetic, and the skillfully rendered dialog reveals a bunch of strangers attempting to communicate in life-defeating circumstances. In the end, there are no real victors....Obviously not a brief, cheery read, this is a major work that will be a valuable addition to any permanent collection." Library Journal (starred review)
"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
"I have never read a war novel, outside of War and Peace, that created such a living, breathing hologram of all sides of any war." Christina Robb, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
An incredible publishing story—written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a New York Times best seller for sixteen weeks, a National Indie Next and a USA Today best seller—Matterhorn has been hailed as a brilliant account of war” (New York Times Book Review). Now out in paperback, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailers The Naked and the Dead and James Joness The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.
Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable novel that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice: a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.
About the Author
A cum laude graduate of Yale University and 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. Karl has lived and traveled all over the world. He was Managing Director of a multinational corporation based in Singapore and had his own consultancy practice in the international energy business. He now writes full time and Matterhorn is his first published novel. He has just finished a non-fiction book about the spiritual and psychological aspects of combat and is currently writing a screenplay while still continuing to work on his next novel. Karl grew up on the Oregon coast. He and his wife, Anne, have five children and live on a small lake in Washington state.
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