This is not just the best book I have read this year, this is one of the best books I have ever read.
There are numerous quotes comparing this book to Norman Mailer’s THE NAKED AND THE DEAD as well as THE THIN RED LINE. MATTERHORN exceeds THE NAKED AND THE DEAD in every department and is a worthy equal to THE THIN RED LINE. Like the afore mentioned classics of the combat-novel genre you meet and get to know every member of the Marine company (Bravo) and it becomes a living, breathing character itself. And the mountain nicknamed Matterhorn looms over every action Bravo is involved in.
This epic novel, which apparently was cut down from a 1600 page manuscript to 597 pages, centers on a young Lieutenant just beginning his tour of duty. The size of the book is not daunting at all as you are instantly enthralled in the book and I would have been happy to read another 600 pages. I also love the fact that the book itself has made a long and arduous journey to readers. Karl Marlantes worked on the novel for thirty years. When he finally finished the book no one would publish it. He finally found a small, non-profit publisher in California but then the industry buzz about the book caught the attention of Grove/Atlantic who have partnered with the small publisher so that the book can gain the audience it deserves.
This isn’t a war novel about heroes. It is not a war novel about politics. Although both are factors throughout the story. This is not about why America was in Vietnam, because the characters in the story didn’t get a choice in the matter. This is about men and boys who experience something that changes them forever and it is about societies that will change forever. It is about war, but the biggest battles are those that the men of Bravo Company have to fight with each other and themselves. If I wrote a list of what would be in my perfect read it would tick every box…twice!
My BOOK BITES video post can be found here