Steve Woods's Reviews > Matterhorn

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
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Aug 14, 14

bookshelves: vietnam-war, a-good-read, favorites
Read from July 25 to August 12, 2011

This one has the ring of truth. I got to this part of the country once during my tour when I visited a fire support basem manned by Marines near the Rockpile in 1971. I have been abck for a much closer look since. On both occasions my heart went out to anyone on either side who had to fight in this place. I have fought in some difficult country, in the Delta, at the tail end of the Annamite chain in III Corps, and in Cambodia but I have nevr had to even move through country this tough anywhere. I have flown over a lot of it and skirted the edges of some like it in Laos but to have to fight in it; unbelievable. The accounts of bush bashing with the heat, the wet, the air so thick you can't get enough oxygen, the leeches, the insect particularly scorpions, the crutch rot, the saws and rashes, the thirst, the back breaking weight .....and the green, the jungle itself, all brought back some vivid memories for me.

The geography and the strategic considerations including the insanity imposed by America's best and brightest made the war here different to that experienced by most Australian soldiers. We operated differently. One difference nade very clear by this book and many other I have read is that our approaches to field discipline were very different. The Australians were very tightm no noise, no rubbish nothing EVER left for the enemy. The Americans were much less strict, discarding rubbish and equipment at whim, carrying record players, and astonishingly leaving established positions without destroying what was there. I can't explain this nor do I know whether it applied across the board, I never served with a large US unit only small groups of advisors who in my estimation were very good soldiers indeed. Not that it matters now, this book lets us all into the minds of these boys and much of what they thought I have at sometime thought. Their sense of things was nuch the same as my own had been in similar circumstances. Nothing unusual in this it is the bond that exists between all soldiers who have known combat, on any side.

Reda this and you will know!
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message 1: by Georgeaa (last edited Aug 14, 2011 05:53AM) (new)

Georgeaa Absorbing, heartbreaking, and maddening. For those who were not there(including yours truly)this book gets you close to the reasons for our failures in the Viet conflict.I could not put it down and I have read many, many books about this war. I am not sure we, as a country, have learned much from our mistakes here.


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