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Matterhorn

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  35,307 ratings  ·  3,153 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
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Paperback, 663 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by El Leon Literary Arts
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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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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
Lyn
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
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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.
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BlackOxford
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.

Officers
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Kemper
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: over-there, war, usa-usa, 2011
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
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Michelle
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
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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
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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
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Monica
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!
Matt
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
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Dan
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-cno
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
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Tim
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
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Carol
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
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Jessica
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
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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
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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.
d.
Matt
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
Doubledf99.99
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.
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
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Michael
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
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Lawyer
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
Jay
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
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Mike
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mike by: aggie_mike2003@yahoo.com
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
Terri
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
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Steve
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
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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
Michael
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
Bob Brinkmeyer
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

Matterhorn is a large, sprawling novel of the Vietnam War. While there are certainly more literary—and aesthetically accomplished—narratives of that war, I doubt there are many (if any) that capture so directly the raw terror as well as the numbing tedium that American soldiers faced and endured there. Written bluntly and without flourish, the novel’s prose, as does its plot, suggests that war strips everything down, including one’s humanity, to its most fundamental. Not unexpectedly, w
...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
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Busy as a Bee Books: Matterhorn 9 11 Jul 19, 2013 06:54PM  

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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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