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August 2013
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thebostonreader [userpic]
26. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

This was SUCH a good book! It follows a company of Marines in Vietnam, led by Waino Mellas, the main protagonist. Mellas begins the story as a new lieutenant, fresh out of training, dropped into the war. I had a hard time getting through the first chapter, with its welter of names and lingo that you'd never keep straight. However, towards the end of the chapter I realized this was intentional; throughout the book the author is at great pains to bring the reader into the story, to make you feel what they are feeling. Mellas is just as confused at first as you, the reader, are. From there we follow the company through their first small battles, long marches, leeches, jungle rot, razor wire, larger battles, racial tensions, and deaths. There's anger at the callous orders coming from the higher-ups, which result in a lot of suffering for the soldiers; there's the joy of friendships between people who would never have gotten to know each other outside the war; there's the nihilism of being involved in a pointless war; there's the deep love that the Marines feel for each other and the pain when they lose comrades. By the end of the book the reader feels almost like a veteran. I actually felt disdain for the new people coming into the company towards the end. I'm not a big reader of war novels, though I'll read anything if it's good. This was good.