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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  31,774 ratings  ·  2,892 reviews
A big, powerful saga of men in combat, written over the course of thirty-five years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran.

Intense, powerful, and compelling, Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’s The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in B
Paperback, 663 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by El Leon Literary Arts
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
"Just below the grim tranquillity Mellas had learned to display, he cursed with boiling intensity the ambitious men who used him and his troops to further their careers. He cursed the air wing for not trying to get any choppers in through the clouds. He cursed the diplomats arguing about round and square tables. He cursed the South Vietnamese making money off the black market. He cursed the people back home gorging themselves in front of their televisions. Then he cursed God. Then there was no o ...more
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Boot camp did not make us killers, it was just a f****** finishing school.”

Grim. Heartbreaking. There were sections of this book that, honest to God, were difficult to read. If you cannot read war novels, don’t even pick it up. If you are made uncomfortable by vivid descriptions of suffering and of overwhelming human endurance, do not read this book. If out of touch and passionless bureaucratic polices that result in needless hurt anger you, then stay far away. If brilliantly illustrated charac
Richard Derus
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5* of five, but it deserves six

Newly Tarted Up Review! I...well...honestly, I have no idea what word to use to describe how I feel about MATTERHORN by Karl Marlantes. It's a superlative book, no adjectives need apply. I gave it five stars because that's the scale...but it deserves six.

Moved to my blog.
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, over-there, 2011, usa-usa
Today I’ll be reviewing Matterhorn, a novel about the Vietnam war. Play your favorite classic rock song of the era while reading. Buffalo Springfield’s For What’s It’s Worth is always a popular choice. You could use Credence Clearwater’s Fortunate Son. For myself, I'll be listening to The End from The Doors and then plan on going into a full-on Martin Sheen-Apocalypse Now-freak-out as I lay on a bed staring up at the ceiling fan in a pair of tidy whiteys until I drink enough to punch out a mirro ...more
Jason Koivu
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war
I was in the shit. Karl Marlantes put me there.

Matterhorn is a deep and penetrating look within the Vietnam War. It's the sort of horribly realistic novel that can only be reproduced by the survivor of an atrocity.

Highly decorated Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes had been at work on this book since the war ended. If you ever need an example of an artistic project into which the artist has poured his blood, sweat and tears, you can point to Matterhorn.

The book follows 2nd Lieutenant Mellas, a
Andrew Smith
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on audiobook, competently read by the ever reliable Jeff Harding. It’s quite long, at over 22 hours, but it’s such a compelling story I’d have been happy to spend longer in its company.

I'd read some background to the Vietnam war but was really quite sketchy on the detail surrounding the political background and even more so on details of the conflict itself. I've subsequently read up a little more on the political element but was directed to this novel as a vehicle that would
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read so far in 2010. I will say that again: This is the best book I've read so far in 2010.

I received Matterhorn from Powell's (Indiespensable #17, a wedding present, I decided) and avoided it for a while, busy with other books, and honestly, looking at it with trepidation because of its considerable size and content. I don't think I've ever read a book about the Vietnam War--would I understand it, I wondered, would it hold my interest? And I didn't understand and it
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead

My husband is a history/military/war fanatic. The history and/or military channel is on all the time. I’ve fallen asleep with the military channel on and had some very naughty dreams of Dan Snow and little red and blue soldiers (see 20th Century Battlefields if you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about).

So, imagine my surprise when I wanted to read Matterhorn. I mean, come on, don’t I get enough “war” on tv? I guess not.

Imagine my delight when Matterhorn turned out to be much more than
Like many Americans these days, I have no direct experience of war, so reading books like this one is (hopefully) the closest I'll get to knowing what it's like.

As far as I can tell, war is the horrific dark antithesis to civilization. The central aim of what men have done since they squirmed out of a cave and lit a fire has been to make life longer, easier, and more comfortable for themselves. Granted, they often did this at the expense of others (women, differently-hued men, etc.), but better
Julie Christine
“First of all, you can’t fall into hating the people you are killing. Because you’ll carry that hate with you longer than you will the actual killing itself. It is only by the grace of God that you are on one side and your enemy is on the other side. I often think, ‘I could have been born in North Vietnam.’”

Matterhorn author Karl Marlantes, August 20, 2010 The Times (London).

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War launched onto the bestseller lists in 2010, when United States was entrenched in t
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was never issued a draft card. I enlisted in the Marines right out of high school and I was still seventeen. I enlisted on a 90 day delay so by the time I hit the yellow foot prints I was then 18. The Marines agreed that I was too intelligent to be a grunt, so I enlisted on an aviation guarantee and went to school for two years learning electronics. I became an Ace from SACE. I became a radar technician.

I saw duty at MCAS Nam Phong, Thailand. The aircraft we supported flew bombing missions in
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning of Citizens, Simon Schama's account of the French Revolution, Schama tells of former Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai's response to a question asking what the Revolution meant. Zhou En-lai was reputed to have said: "It is too soon to tell." That's how I feel about the Vietnam War.

My passion for history is, in my own estimation, above average. I read about it, I write about it, and I visit the locales, all with a certain fervor that will probably be well-detailed in my wife's court f
Unforgettable. Marlantes took years to write Matterhorn. Clearly it served as the ultimate catharsis for him to exorcise the horrors of the Vietnam Conflict from his mind. Here is all the insanity of conflict. Here is all the hubris of ranking officers who never visit a battlefield, but whose rise in the ranks depend upon victories in places of no military value. The grunts are pawns on the chessboards of their ranking officers road to promotion. You will be reminded of Tim O'Brien's "The Things ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you read the reviews of Matterhorn you are going to see words like moving, riveting, heartbreaking, mesmerizing, masterful, epic, authentic, funny even and always unforgettable. All true and more.

Karl Marlantes knows of what he writes from his service as a Marine in Vietnam. He wanted to somehow explain this experience to his family and to share it with us. Vietnam was what I call "my war" meaning it was happening just as I was graduating and getting ready to start my adult life. It was part
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"People who didn't even know each other were going to kill each other over a hill none of them cared about."

This sentence, from Karl Marlantes' superb novel "Matterhorn", pretty much encapsulates the war in Vietnam for many people, including some who served there. The war as a whole (its origins and machinations) was more complex, as all wars are, but mostly only to the politicians who started and sustained it. Marlantes, who served as a Marine Lieutenant in Vietnam and earned various combat med
Robert French
It is definitely difficult to find the words to describe Matterhorn. I suspect this is one of the most honest and realistic portraits of combat in the Vietnam conflict. I am of the same generation as Karl Marlantes. He is only 6 months older than I am. I also came from the Northwest. He grew up in Oregon; I grew up in Idaho. Without question Vietnam had a significant impact on our generation. It was the overriding theme guiding the life decisions made by young men at that time. From the time I g ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mike by:
It was so good it hurt. Really good. Matterhorn makes it clear you will NEVER understand what it is like to go to war, unless you are one of the warriors in the fight. But he will drag you into a world that seems so immediate and real, you will come out drained. It took him 30 years to write the story and it paid off, every detail, scene and emotion is captured brilliantly. It may be “fiction” but it reads as ground truth. I guarantee any student of war will put this book on the permanent shelf. ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The absurdity, cruelty, monotony, and yes, addiction, of war are brilliantly on display in this moving novel of the Vietnam War.
Matterhorn. Karl Marlantes. What can I say? It has taken me a few weeks to leave this review because it has taken that long to find the words.
Matterhorn is powerful, emotional, gripping, gut wrenching, but most of all, it is haunting.
Haunting. Yes, that is it most of all, it is haunting in a way that is beyond anything that I have read for a very long time.
I want to thank Karl Marlantes for the experience and the insight.
I want to thank him for sharing with me a story that I have no doubt has
Lea Ann
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I simply can't say enough good things about Matterhorn. It's an intricate story with a lot of characters to keep track of, but it's worth it. I found myself so invested in the book 100 pages in that I had to put it down several times just to calm down before I could go on reading.

The book mainly follows 2d Lt. Waino Mellas, a Princeton grad who after signing up for the Marine reserves before going to college gets shipped off to Vietnam after graduation. 600 pages later, you have only been in the
Surprise! This book receives 4.5 stars from me. Yes, from me who reluctantly reads war novels and winces at the mention of the Vietnam War and its politicalness.

Marlantes somehow pulls off placing the reader smack dab in the middle of the fighting without grossing the reader out. What's more, it isn't by distracting the reader from the characters either. I rooted for everyone in Bravo Company except the Colonel and Number 3. Hey, I felt part of the company.

How Marlantes whisked me through the w
Outstanding novel of the Vietnam War. Among the handful of truly great fictional accounts of war. The main focus is on a volunteer young Marine lieutenant, Mellas, as he struggles to be a good soldier, lead his men, and suffer the poor decisions of the officers tasked with an unwinnable war no longer supported widely at home. As revealed well in the narrative, there were few pitched battles or contention to take territory, but instead many skirmishes with political goals, including an artificial ...more
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version of this book. It was intense and deeply moving. I will not look at Vietnam or any war the same way. My husband was the radioman in a platoon humping in the jungle of Vietnam about a year after this book was set. Heretofore, he has not talked much about it. Matterhorn helped me understand what that period of his life was like. The book has also opened up conversation with my husband. There will be an event that happens to the characters in the book and I will ask m ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, aere-perennius
"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
John Hood
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bound: Sunpost Weekly June 17, 2010
An Epic Song of War
Karl Malantes’ Matterhorn is One Bloody Battle Hymn

The creation story has now become legend. Karl Marlantes, a highly decorated Marine Corps second lieutenant, returns from the front lines in Vietnam and vows to write the proverbial Great American Novel.

“I sat down and pounded it out manically in first person,” he told Steven Kurutz of The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy. “It was pure psychotherapy, psychodump. That helped
Larry Bassett
I just finished listening to this book and the audible version eight years after I first read it. I must admit I had very few recollections of the book from the first reading. As I listen to the book I thought to myself more than several times “could this possibly be real?“ I concluded that the title of the book which included the phrase “A Novel“ was accurate. It is a novel. As in my review from eight years ago, I continue to have a hard time believing that this book could represent reality. It ...more
Jay Pruitt
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"It won't hurt you. It's just to kill plants. It's called Agent Orange... and it won't bother humans."

This is such a sad and wonderful story. The sadness is apparent, as no person who participated in this war would ever return whole - there would always be part of their soul left behind. But the story, as told by Karl Marlantes, was wonderful in that it highlights the best and worst in all of us. I recall hearing one of the journalists who covered this war saying that we, as a nation, often re
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, wow, wow. I want to say a special, heartfelt thanks to every Vietnam veteran. This is a book I'll never forget. As many who served in this jungle have said better than I can, this is a powerful story of so many aspects of war, particularly this war. Everything was so nebulous, I don't see how anyone either managed to fight or came out alive. This is a story of the people of that war up and down the ranks. If you never fought in such a war (I didn't) and want to know what war is like, read t ...more
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“The day was spent in weary stupefaction, hauling dead American teenagers to a stack beside the landing zone and dead Vietnamese teenagers to the garbage pit down the side of the north face.” (Matterhorn)

I wasn’t in Vietnam; I’ve never spoken to anyone about Vietnam who fought in the war yet I feel in my gut that this book by Marlantes speaks to the experience of many. Filled with images of oozing immersion foot, young faces smeared with purple Kool Aid, clinging leeches, young soldiers crawling
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
At the very least Matterhorn, this debut novel about Marines in Vietnam in 1969, heaps honor, respect and even awe to those soldiers represented by the brave men of Bravo Company. Shortround, Hawke, Fischer, Fitch, Vancouver, Mole and China, among many. And especially Second Lt. Waino Mellas, who is the moral center of the story. He is someone who thinks about what it means to face death and the very nature of evil. Mellas is preoccupied with the mysteries of war and the jungle; what it means an ...more
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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 the William E. Colby Award given by the Pritzker Military Library, the Center For Fiction's Flaherty-Dunna ...more
“It was all absurd, without reason or meaning. People who didn't know each other were going to kill each other over a hill none of them cared about” 43 likes
“He ran as he'd never run before, with neither hope nor despair. He ran because the world was divided into opposites and his side had already been chosen for him, his only choice being whether or not to play his part with heart and courage. He ran because fate had placed him in a position of responsibility and he had accepted the burden. He ran because his self-respect required it. He ran because he loved his friends and this was the only thing he could do to end the madness that was killing and maiming them.” 39 likes
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