Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
A Novel of the Vietnam War

55%

17 Critic Reviews

Even today, Marlantes seems to view the protesters as little more than rich kids hiding behind their deferments. It's a notable blind spot in a morally and psychologically sophisticated novel that does so many other things so well.
-LA Times

Synopsis

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 Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever. 

Written by a highly decorated Marine veteran over the course of thirty years, Matterhorn is a spellbinding and unforgettable novel that brings to life an entire world—both its horrors and its thrills—and seems destined to become a classic of combat literature.
 

About Karl Marlantes

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A graduate of Yale University and 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. This is his first novel.
 
Published April 1, 2010 by Atlantic Monthly Press. 617 pages
Genres: War, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Matterhorn
All: 17 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Below average

...not quite in the class of Tim O’Brien, Philip Caputo, Michael Herr, Robert Stone and other top-flight literary chroniclers of the war in Vietnam.

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Guardian

Below average
on Aug 15 2010

Even without its quaint take on race relations, Matterhorn would be something of a throwback. What Karl Marlantes needed was something to contest the material instead of capitulating to it.

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Guardian

Good
on Jul 31 2010

Marlantes has demonstrated the supremacy of the written word.

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Guardian

Below average
on Jul 11 2010

Combat is not Marlantes's deepest subject.

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Blog Critics

Good
on Jun 05 2010

Those who have not fought in Marlantes’ war cannot understand all he experienced, but this novel brings us close.

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NPR

Excellent
on Apr 22 2010

There's never been a Vietnam War novel as stark, powerful and brutal as Matterhorn...

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NPR

Below average
on Apr 19 2010

We've been looking for the great Vietnam War novel for 40 years and more. This isn't it...

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AV Club

Below average
on Apr 15 2010

The cast is huge, and while the characters are winnowed down over time, some names blur together.

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LA Times

Below average
on Apr 12 2010

Even today, Marlantes seems to view the protesters as little more than rich kids hiding behind their deferments. It's a notable blind spot in a morally and psychologically sophisticated novel that does so many other things so well.

Read Full Review of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vi... | See more reviews from LA Times

The Washington Post

Above average
Reviewed by David Masiel on Mar 30 2010

To follow him, we are forced at gunpoint down a long jungle path where no atrocity goes undescribed, where glory is reduced to a vague and senseless dream, and the theater of the absurd is decidedly unfunny. Lt. Mellas and his cohort find meaning not in death but in the most immediate realities...

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The Telegraph

Excellent
on Aug 08 2010

This is a compelling tale of a band of brothers...Marlantes has captured day-to-day survival in impressive detail and turned it into a powerful portrait of humanity.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
on May 14 2010

...a glittering inspection of the human condition...

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Huffington Post

Below average
on May 19 2010

...Marlantes shoves aside doubt and ultimately glorifies the war, even if it is covered in filth and horror. That's the novel's ultimate failure.

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Dallas News

Below average
on Apr 15 2010

...Matterhorn has flaws. There's the occasional stylistic clunker.

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Oregon Live

Good
on Apr 03 2010

Marlantes' experience informs every word of this big book, his first novel, and makes it the most visceral of all Vietnam novels...

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Marine Corps Gazette

Excellent

It would be easy to hyperbolize "Matterhorn" with any number of glow-words from the reviewer's convenient arsenal of adjectives. But the high praise always remains the same: "Just go buy and read the classic-to-be for yourself."

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Marine Corps Gazette

Above average

Above all, and in exact and close detail, the author smoothly blends the political culture, the delicate personal relationships, the flaws in the command structure, and the manner in which he and his Marines enter a fight.

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Reader Rating for Matterhorn
87%

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