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4.23  ·  Rating details ·  41,444 ratings  ·  3,426 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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Jennifer Perhaps Marlantes did not want to "out" the people who were burdened with making so many bad decisions and putting so many soldiers in harm's way. Usi…morePerhaps Marlantes did not want to "out" the people who were burdened with making so many bad decisions and putting so many soldiers in harm's way. Using the cover of fiction, Marlantes could tell a story that was close to the horrible truth without hurting the people (and their families) who were running the show.(less)
Erik Bresnahan Why did I call it Matterhorn? It is the name of the novel. If you mean, "Why is the novel called 'Matterhorn'?" It is because the name refers to one o…moreWhy did I call it Matterhorn? It is the name of the novel. If you mean, "Why is the novel called 'Matterhorn'?" It is because the name refers to one of the mountains in Vietnam that has been renamed by the US Military. The protagonist discusses how the mountains are named, or, rather, renamed, after mountains in the Alps. This illustrates the arrogance of the Anglo-Americans and how they see the need to Christianize what they see as a savage landscape. This type of thinking that was shared at the higher echelons played a role in the U.S. ultimately losing the war.(less)

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Average rating 4.23  · 
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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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, american, vietnamese
Martyrs for Language

It is unlikely that indentured slaves were worked as hard as grunt Marines in Vietnam. Certainly not with as little to show for it. The sociology that kept these men from escaping entirely through drugs or killing their officer-oppressors is complex - a mix of fear of authority, comradeship, exhausted inertia and the vague hope that their suffering might end without death. Patriotism, revenge, and military pride didn’t register on the meter of soldierly motivations.

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, 2011, over-there, 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
Em Lost In Books
After almost dropping this after first two chapters, am glad I stick to it because it was so rewarding in the end. Just a glimpse (because I know there will be millions of other stories that didn't make it to print) of what soldiers endure in a war to serve their country, it just gutted me. The pain, the courage, and the valor, no words can praise them enough. ...more
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
Dan Porter
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very minor potential spoiler.

For about a year in 1978 and 1979, I was with Golf Battery, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. Those of you who know much about the Marine Corps are probably saying, “Bullshit!” right now because you know that 1/4 is an infantry, not an artillery, battalion. At that time, Golf Battery 3/12 was attached to 1/4, which was on independent duty at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. Anyway, that was my first duty assignment after completing training a
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker
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 a “war” book. It turned out to be much more than a “Vietnam” book. It turned out to be much more than a “guy” book. It turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time.

As my employees always point out, I am a big book cheerleader and I have a tendency to push my favorites on them (like they have a choice, I AM
Better than expected! An engrossing story that comes across as authentic. So good!! rtf

4.5 Stars

Listened to on Audible. Bronson Pinchot is an amazing narrator!
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
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first novel I've ever read about the Vietnam war. The author fought in the conflict and it apparently took him many years to write this novel. The sense of authenticity is palpable throughout - occasionally this can be a hindrance (a little too much of the realistic banter engaged in by the men slowed down the pace at times) but mainly it's a huge asset.
First and foremost it's a brilliant dramatization of the insanity of war. Unlike every operation in the second world war where every objec
David Putnam
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I liked the Thirteenth Valley by Delvecio and Green Berets by Robin Moore, this one is better, the definitive novel of Vietnam. Highly recommend.
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
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
“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
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
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
An excellent insight into ther Vietnam War told in such a way that the reader feels they are right there with the Marines. Having read many Jeff Shaara books, I feel I know a good war book when I come across one and this one, penned by first time author Karl Marlantes, was an excellent piece of work. With strong language, gripping stories about the coming together and division within a group of Marines fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, Marlantes illustrates the rawness of the war and, at times ...more
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Matterhorn is a dense, well-written, realistic, emotional and intense novel about the Vietnam War - written by a veteran. It is also extremely difficult to read. Within the first few pages the reader is dropped into Vietnam joining the marines of Bravo Company and it is a brutal experience. This book consists not simply of battle scenes, ambushes and forced marches – although there is plenty of that here – Matterhorn is much more visceral and cerebral than that. And if that sounds like a contrad ...more
An unforgettable and powerful read of Marines in combat, and all the minute detail of leading men, in bivouac, on patrols and in the VCB. One section of the story the was about the The Trail of Tears Op. The book included a few maps, and a glossary of terms and military slang.
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
Fred Shaw
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matterhorn is a historical novel of US Marines fighting in Viet Nam. It is an extremely well written epic with unforgettable characters and unbelievable descriptions of battles fought in the jungle setting of dense foliage and ever changing weather conditions.

My problem with becoming attached to the bigger than life characters was they were there one minute and gone the next. The experienced “gunny” sergeant, the “boot” or inexperienced Lieutenant, or the fearful private were not immune from th
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
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
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It felt, read, and sounded authentic. I hope and pray that it contains several writer’s embellishments but I’m not so sure it does. The author is a decorated Marine who fought in Vietnam. This story sounds a lot like the author’s citation for the Navy Cross where he led an assault on a cluster of bunkers and was wounded in the process. If you like to read war novels about grunts in platoon and company sized units making vertical assaults than this one’s for you. Race relations were portrayed to ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-war
Sebastian Junger, in his New York Times review (4/4/10) of "Matterhorn," noted that "[i:]t's not a book so much as a deployment, and you will not return unaltered." Junger continues:

"There is a blizzard of names, ranks and military terms, for instance, and despite the glossary and unit schematic included in the book, I still felt lost much of the time. That confusion, however, was exactly my experience while covering the United States military as a journalist, and in "Matterhorn" it struck me a
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
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
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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

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