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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (11,134 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karl Marlantes Narrator: Bronson Pinchot Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455197736
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An incredible publishing story—written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a New York Times bestseller for sixteen weeks, a National Indie Next, and a USA Today bestseller—Matterhorn has been hailed as a “brilliant account of war” (New York Times Book Review).

Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’ The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever.

Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable story that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice—a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.

A bonus PDF is included, with maps, a Chain of Command hierarchy, a glossary, and other interesting facts and information. To access the PDF, click here

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of the most powerful and moving novels about combat, the Vietnam War, and war in general that I have ever read.”

    Dan Rather, award-winning television news anchor

  • “There has never been a more realistic portrait or eloquent tribute to the nobility of men under fire, and never a more damning portrait of a war that ground them cruelly underfoot for no good reason…There are passages in this book that are as good as anything I have ever read…Vladimir Nabokov once said that the greatest books are those you read not just with your heart or your mind, but with your spine. This is one for the spine.”

    Mark Bowden, bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

  • “There’s a reason this big Vietnam War novel made such an impression on the public consciousness. It is a deep and devastating achievement.”

    George Pelecanos, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Marlantes pushes you through what may be one of the most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam—or any war. It’s not a book so much as a deployment, and you will not return unaltered…Matterhorn is a raw, brilliant account of war that may well serve as a final exorcism for one of the most painful passages in American history.”

    New York Times

  • “Carefully constructed and beautifully realized…Filled with truth, wisdom, love, and a rich vein of dark gallows humor.”


  • “A brutally vivid debut novel…The visceral Matterhorn is as much a tribute to the marine culture of bravery as it is a dissection of a contentious war and a meditation on the American civil rights movement…Marlantes’ writing is evocative. We feel the marines’ exhaustion as they dig gun pits, carry dead and wounded comrades, and nearly die from hunger…[Marlantes] pitches us into a harrowing narrative we won’t soon forget.”

    USA Today

  • “I’ve laughed at Catch-22 and wept at The Thin Red Line, but I’ve never encountered a war novel as stark, honest and wrenching as Matterhorn. Marlantes writes with a spare clarity, but he’s unafraid to plumb the emotions of the young men in Bravo Company; the icy bravado of Hemingway or Mailer has no place in these pages. The Marines of Matterhorn are both brave and frightened, both committed and resigned. Their common refrain, ‘There it is,’ denotes acceptance of some new and unfortunate but unchangeable fact. By turns, this book horrified me, crushed me and beat me up, but I found it nearly impossible to stop reading. More than any living American novelist I’ve read, Marlantes made me feel what I already must have known: that war is worse than hell. There it is.”

    Michael Schaub, NPR book reviewer

  • “Marlantes’ epic debut is a dense, vivid narrative…A decorated Vietnam veteran, the author clearly understands his playing field, and by examining both the internal and external struggles of the battalion, he brings a long, torturous war back to life with realistic characters and authentic, thrilling combat sequences…a grand accomplishment.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Matterhorn is a marvel—a living, breathing book with Lieutenant Waino Mellas and the men of Bravo Company at its raw and battered heart. Karl Marlantes doesn’t introduce you to Vietnam in his brilliant war epic—he unceremoniously drops you into the jungle, disoriented and dripping with leeches, with only the newbie lieutenant as your guide…Readers gain a new perspective on the ravages of war, the politics and bureaucracy of the military, and the peculiar beauty of brotherhood.”

    Amazon.com, Best Books of the Month, March 2010

  • “Narrator Bronson Pinchot should get a medal for his extraordinary portrayal of Lieutenant Waino Mellas in Marlantes’ debut novel. The author, a former marine and decorated Vietnam veteran, tells a heartrending, nerve-jangling story of war. Pinchot breathes life into each member of Mellas’ Bravo Company as they inch their way up a strategic mountain in the middle of the Vietnam War. Pinchot allows a tinge of regret to creep into his voice as the men are sprayed with ‘harmless’ agent orange and face one seemingly exhausting task after another. A surprise attack by a wily jungle cat heightens the eeriness of the tension-filled environment, a quality that is perfectly matched by Pinchot’s performance. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “Even as the Vietnam War recedes into the past, the despair, confusion, and mythology it generated retains a grip on our culture. Debut novelist Marlantes offers a realistic, in-the-trenches look at that war…The battle scenes, at which the author excels, are frequent, brutal, and viscerally energetic, and the skillfully rendered dialog reveals a bunch of strangers attempting to communicate in life-defeating circumstances. In the end, there are no real victors…this is a major work that will be a valuable addition to any permanent collection.”

    Library Journal

  • “The Vietnam novel has come of age, and this is a worthy addition to the genre…The environment is painted in vivid, intense hues: the fog malevolent, the bugs and leeches constant torturers, and jungle rot universal. The enemy is always near and often unseen until firefights explode with shocking savagery…the characters are, if traditional, certainly believable. This tough, unsentimental saga is filled with frightened men; most endure and achieve a certain nobility in spite of themselves. An engrossing chronicle of men at war.”


  • “What makes this novel so irresistible is Marlantes’ skill at peeling away the many layers of truth in combat…The delicate balance between life and death resonates throughout Matterhorn, as it does in real combat. What is so fresh and fascinating about this novel is Marlantes’ depiction of the specific activities and conflicting motivations that take place in a war zone…Marlantes also shows the nature of life in the bush for these grunts, the long hours spent contemplating the imminent sudden bursts of horror and loss…Great novels are underscored by human drama, and Marlantes’ depiction of men under stress—no matter what race or background—is searing and complex. Matterhorn will not only take its place on the top shelf of war fiction, it’s going to knock a few books off. It’s that good.”


  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Winner of the 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
  • Selected for the April 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 RUSA Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2011 Colby Award
  • Winner of the 2011 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2011 Indies Choice Book Award for Best Debut
  • New Yorker’s Best Books
  • AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Barnes & Noble Summer Discover Pick
  • Amazon Best Books of the Year, 2010
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2010
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 USA Today Best Book
  • A 2010 AudioFile Best Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2010 AudioFile Best Voice

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terry Fife | 2/7/2014

    " I suppose not surprising, an F- bomb fest of epic proportions! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Serafini | 2/6/2014

    " very good fiction and you get a good feel for the horrors of war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 1/31/2014

    " The story of a new lieutenant, Mellas, integration into his company and going on patrols in Viet Nam. Also a life journey as he comes to terms with the insanity of the war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin S | 1/20/2014

    " Having never been in the military, let alone a Marine who served in Vietnam, the brotherhood felt between soldiers serving in battle is something I will never be able to fully understand or appreciate. But Matterhorn gives me as good an idea of it as I could ever hope to have. It has your heart racing one moment and then breaking a few pages later. It's neither a preachy anti-war novel nor a fist-pounding pro-war one. There's no agenda here. Just great storytelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melanie | 1/16/2014

    " Excellent! Character developments very interesting! Language a bit harsh but fitting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joel Beerman | 1/13/2014

    " Good description of difficulties in Vietnam. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 1/8/2014

    " Get through the first 200 pages and the book becomes an intense, sorrow, thoughtful, tragic account. Makes you forever have a different perspective of the military...at least for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Oscar Carr | 1/7/2014

    " Intense book. Makes Vietnam look like a total blunder. Worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 1/6/2014

    " Hands down the best book on the Vietnam War ever written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn | 12/8/2013

    " Definitive novel about the war in Vietanm. Barry Moser recommended it highly and then whisically bought it for me. Gritty and gripping, based on the author's experience. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Grahame | 12/4/2013

    " The best explanation that I've seen / read of the pain, fear and military motives in the vietnam war. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Walt DeGrange | 11/24/2013

    " Overall an excellent book covering the Vietnam experience through the eyes of the soldier on the ground. Gets a little preachy towards the end or else I would have rated it higher. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Ray | 11/14/2013

    " Excellent story about the men in Vietnam. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael Miner | 10/9/2013

    " Longish but a great look at what it was like fighting in the bush in Vietnam Nam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Marano | 1/25/2013

    " Amazingly powerful and moving. Shockingly gruesome. Heartbreaking and oddly uplifting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jose | 10/24/2012

    " Great Read. I have to confess that this book made me cry, not a tear or two, but openly weep, I had to hide to do it. This book is intense because it is real, it is truth. I believe Hemingway would approve. This book took me to Vietnam and made me leave a piece of my soul there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 8/5/2012

    " I've read quite a few books on Vietnam, both history and fiction. Even after all this time, this is the best fictional account I've read. the sweep on the place, people and events is portrayed in a way that makes the reader feel a part of the story, and all the events. A must "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zac H. | 5/24/2012

    " fantastic classic war tale. very descriptive and captivating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew Schroeder | 1/29/2012

    " This is what novels are for: to relate the subjective experience of objective events. When those events are critical to a nation, the effect of a novel can really be something. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica North-white | 9/28/2011

    " This book was amazing.I highly recommend it to anyone who wants an upclose and personal view of the vietnam war from a grunts perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kay | 8/30/2011

    " A powerful book about war that is well written and feels authentic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeremiahclark | 5/15/2011

    " Hands down, this is the best novel that I have read in a while. It is a story about a company of Marines in Vietnam. The storytelling is fantastic and I really got attached to the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mickelo | 5/12/2011

    " Very good, up there with Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie and Michael Herr's Dispatches. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 5/9/2011

    " This will be a classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 5/6/2011

    " Gripping tale of soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War.

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniela | 5/5/2011

    " Listening to the Audiobook (Audible). Unbelievable.

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 5/5/2011

    " I never thought I would read a novel about the Vietnam War, but I couldn't believe how good this book was. Great story! Very suspenseful! Makes you wonder about the value of war, and whether it is worth the price we pay for it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy | 4/30/2011

    " An amazing book! I wasn't sure if I wanted to tackle a 600 page book on the Vietnam War, but I am so glad I did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Curtis | 4/28/2011

    " Great historical fiction about the Vietnam War. "

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About the Author
Author Karl Marlantes

Karl Marlantes, a cum-laude graduate of Yale University and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, was a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals. He has lived and traveled all over the world and now writes full time. He and his wife, Anne, have five children and live on a small lake in Washington state.

About the Narrator

Bronson Pinchot, an Audie Award–winning narrator and Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2010, received his education at Yale University, which filled out what he had already received at his mother’s knee in the all-important areas of Shakespeare, Greek art and architecture, and the Italian Renaissance. He restores Greek Revival buildings and appears in television, film, and on stage whenever the pilasters and entablatures overwhelm him.