Matterhorn REview


Karl Marlantes

[xrrgroup][xrr rating=4/5]
[xrr rating=5/5 imageset=grenade label=Manliness:][/xrrgroup]

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Matterhorn was the best all-around book club book we’ve done so far.  Except it’s not really that big of a risk as the book is freaking great.  There have been some books (i.e. Shadow of the Wind, The Devil in the White City, Ender’s Game) that have gotten better individual scores from our panel, but no book has given us the whole package as much as Matterhorn.  The “whole package being defined as manliness, enjoyability, character development, discussion topics, and depth.

Gripping and emotional, there were times that I literally could not stop reading. The battle scenes were some of the best I’ve read in any book.  Especially in being able to describe the scene in a way where I could easily imagine it playing out.  This is no easy feat when you’re talking about platoons, squads, firing teams, enemy positions, etc. Though the action was great, some of my favorite parts were the down times between battles. Marlantes did a great job bringing you down to the same level as the marines, giving you insight into their fears, the politics involved, and the racial tensions.   Matterhorn elicited the most emotions by far compared to any other book we’ve read. Whether by making us hate, empathize, or mourn, the book has a way of drawing you in to feel what the characters are feeling.In the end, the book changed my views on soldiers and the Vietnam War, and that’s all you can ask from a book.

We covered a lot of the book’s qualities in our PREview of the book.  See below for what our contributors thought and what we liked and didn’t like.

Book Club Snap Shot

(Hover over names for ratings and recaps.)

[tippy title=”APC” width=”900″ header=”off”]
If any man gives this book less than 5/5 on the manliness scale, I question the existence of their testicles. Marlantes is a masterful writer, and you almost feel like you are in the bush with the Marines - you attack, retreat, celebrate, grieve, and question the. purpose of the Vietnam war with the rest of the platoon. The greatest strength of Matterhorn is character development, through the strife of war you get a personal look into the lives of dozens of Marines, and you grow attached to each one. Matterhorn is a must-read for every man.[/tippy]
[tippy title=”Cory” width=”900″ header=”off”]
Matterhorn, although a couple hundred pages too long with a couple dozen too many characters, is one of the most emotionally-intense books I have ever read. The writing is incredible, and the story is engaging... plus: it's all that-is-man.[/tippy]
[tippy title=”Dave” width=”900″ header=”off”]
Don't be surprised if a recruiter approaches you to read this book. It demands a commitment as deep and gravely as the drill sergeant's voice, and as you turn the pages it will make a man out of your pink and un-calloused fingers. Your soul will bleed for the leeches and your mind will leak the pus and rotted jungle flesh of fallen marines you've already forgotten. It will break you down, build you up, then leave you emotionally dead in the jungle. This book is worth it though. It is worth the queasiness and the gore. It's worth getting to know the names of the entire platoon. And it's worth the hundreds of pages of bureaucratic confusion, jargon, and slang words. This isn't a beach read, it's a knee-deep-in-the-mud read.[/tippy]
[tippy title=”Graham” width=”900″ header=”off”]
This book was like a never-ending pasta bowl of manliness... you keep reading and reading to discover that you're only a quarter of the way through. The great thing is that the book is riveting — it brought a fresh perspective on the Vietnam War from the eyes of a young infantryman. I have a new respect for our veterans and the sacrifice they made. [/tippy]
[tippy title=”John” width=”800″ header=”off”]
This book may set the high bar for our manly rating system. In the midst of bombs, bullets, and a jungle that seems as intent to kill as the enemy it hides, Marlantes explores the honor and futility of war. Neither condemning nor over-glorifying it, he presents an honest and at times difficult to ingest story of the men involved in the inner-workings of the Vietnam War and their battle survive it. Even those like myself who do not always enjoy a book on war can be sucked into this extremely well written novel.

What we liked:
  • Marlantes freaking lived it.  The story was largely based on his experiences in Vietnam.
  • Great detail of what the war felt like for the troops.
  • Best character development so far.
  • It was based on true events, giving it more weight.
  • Huge insight to the racial tensions going on at the time.
  • Any book that features jungle rot, leeches, starvation, friendly fire, obeying ridiculous orders, wild animals, Immersion Foot, oh and then actually fighting a war at the same time is OK in my book.
What we didn’t like:
  • Too many characters to easily follow.  See our Character List to help you sort out who’s who.
  • It’s 650 pages, so its no breezy read.
  • That’s it.

All in all, if I were to do my Top Ten list over again, I would have to find a way to make room for Matterhorn.  I can’t imagine anyone regretting reading it.  If you consider yourself to be an Ultra Manly man, or even just a normal man, or even human you’ll find Matterhorn worthwhile.

About zach

Staring out across the hazy mountain range on his latest summitting of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zach saw with a clearness he had not yet seen. "People should tremble at the very sound of my name", he thought. And it was so. "I should master the manly arts of the world, such as barehanded hunting and blacksmithing". And it was so. "People should call me Z$". And it was so.

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