The Book Catapult

Matterhorn

As a method of catharsis, perhaps, or just as a way to break things up a little bit, I just need to get a few words down about a book I’ve recently finished that was not written (or co-written) by James Patterson:  Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Balancing my Patterson social experiment with a Vietnam novel proved to be…relaxing, actually.

That’s not true, really, but Matterhorn is pretty incredible, nonetheless.

It a novel that highlights the utter futility, stupidity, and frustration that permeates modern warfare. It’s the story of a company of Marines, entrenched in the jungle of Vietnam, forced to protect, defend, abandon, attack, and hold a supposedly strategically significant mountain that rises above the treeline just south of the DMZ. These men fight, kill, and often die, at the whim of an alcoholic, glory-seeking Battalion Commander who watches and criticizes from afar. It is raw, yet elegant – powerful, yet humble; a remarkable book that forces a fresh perspective on a sad chapter in American history.

I was born in 1975 – a month and a half after Saigon fell – so there’s always been a bit of a mystique surrounding Vietnam for me, as one brought into life just as so many were exiting theirs. It has been a war that has left its indelible stamp on my generation – even though we were just barely getting started. Matterhorn, for me, is the most accurate, vivid, terrifying, frustrating, elegant novel of that war I have ever read. 

I have a full review (with a little help from my friends) of Matterhorn over on the Warwick’s blog, so check it.

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One comment on “Matterhorn

  1. aaryn b.
    May 25, 2010

    How do you read so much? Ooooo, right. You don't have kids. Right. Right. I'm still struggling with Tinkers. 191 pages and it's taking me two weeks. Mostly because I don't want to pick it up.

    This book sounds great. I'll add it to my list of must-reads. I think I need to get a job at Warwicks….

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This entry was posted on May 22, 2010 by in Matterhorn.
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