Helen's Reviews > What It is Like to Go to War

What It is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
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's review
Apr 09, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

I read this because my husband spoke highly of it, and I was reading a lot of Vietnam/Laos/Cambodian books at the time, and thought this might add yet another perspective to my knowledge of the American war in Vietnam. I'd just read De Mille's 'Up Country', which is a marvellous piece of historical fiction based on a protagonist US vet who returns to Vietnam some years after the war to do some 'mop up' work for the US government. So, with my appetite whetted for Vietnam (and on the brink of travelling there), I read Marlantes book, which quite frankly blew me away. It is a raw, gutsy, insightful, reflective, courageous book that, despite the heavy topic ~ Marlantes writes an an ex-Vietnam vet with PTSD ~ is easy to engage with, relate to and read. It's a poignant personal narrative of philsophical, political and spiritual gleanings about the the role of militancy in society, the effect of combat on soldiers and their families, and the responsibiltiy of governments and home populations toward going to war and also to their honouring of returning vets. It raises highly topical questions about the ethics of post-modern war with technologies of non-combat e.g. drones and guided missiles.
I highly recommend the book for everyone, although it has special significance for those in the thick of politics and military matters.
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