Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes is not as you might think a book about mountains, but a novel set during the Vietnam war. The author was a marine who served in Vietnam so the characters and their missions have a depressingly authentic feel. The futile, mindless, exhausting, destructive, horrific existence of the soldiers is shown beside their mateship, fear and bravery. The issue of race is given an interesting slant as coloured and white marines combat the environment and the North Vietnam Army [NVA]. On a mission they are comrades, friends and supporters. Back in camp, as one black soldier says “Where is we? My ‘is’ ain’t with you whiteys”. Military politics is portrayed as one more enemy of the ordinary soldier, often determining that ‘grunts’ will be ‘humped to death’ to satisfy some officer’s promotion hopes. The fabric of their existance is their inexperience, insecurity and their fear of catastrophic injury or death. Ironically they all look foreward to an injury that gets them out of there!.
A compelling and absorbing read $33