Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
Karl Marlantes. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010. 592 pp. Maps. Glossary. $24.95.
Reviewed by Ron Benigo
As Second Lieutenant Weino Mellas, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, lies terrified, awaiting the order to attack and contemplating his almost certain death, he considers deserting his platoon and somehow finding his way through the formidable jungle to safety. Tempting as this option may be, Mellas ultimately decides to stay with his platoon, simply concluding that "Dying this way was a better way to die because living this way was a better way to live." At this moment, Mellas completes his metamorphosis from civilian-on-loan, punching a military combat ticket on the way to a successful law career that perhaps would lead to public office, to a leader that fellow Marines respected and trusted with their lives.
Most of Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes' powerful story of the Vietnam War, is told through Mellas, the most "Boot" of all the officers in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, and commander of the First Platoon.