Review: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

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Shame and honor clash where the courage of a steadfast man is motley like the magpie. But such a man may yet make merry, for Heaven and Hell have equal part in him.” – Wolfram von Eschenback “Parzival

This quote at the beginning sums this novel up nicely.

I think it’s a book that people should read. I think it’s important. Doesn’t matter if you agree with war and politics or you don’t. This book is important.

As I read it, all I could think of was how people often forget that despite the politics and the cause of war…well at the end of the day, the people who fight war…well…it’s often just unsure and untested young people.

You have commanders giving orders based on information that they’ve been told. This information is being gave to them by men that don’t wish to displease him. They might not outright lie, but they certainly don’t give 100% accurate information either….Who wants to be the bearer of bad news to a commanding officer? At the end of the day, the men out on missions are pushed harder than many can endure…harder than any can endure…and the bottom line is, casualties can be offset and justified by the bottom line of damage and killings you’ve done to the enemy. When it’s all said and done, war too is just a numbers game.

My heart broke many times during this reading…and honestly, all I could think of is, “these men are only kids!!!!!!!” I don’t mean to take away from their service. There should be no way my statement could ever do that. However, think back to when you were 18. 19. 20. Now imagine watching your brothers in arm dying…or sometimes, worse, not dying soon enough…and knowing its your job to prevent it…that your decision, or hesitation, or non hesitation could cause it. Imagine knowing that the order from above will get you and your brothers killed, but it’s an order and it’s your job to make sure those orders are carried through. Imagine experiencing all of this, when in reality all you fucking want is to be back home in your lover’s arms…

As wonderful as the book was, I just can’t imagine! I can’t imagine what these young men were going through. We often get pissed at politicians for decisions they make. We often get mad at military situations…right or wrong…well that isn’t for me to decide…sure, I have my opinions, same as everyone else…but what I took from this book is that everyone dehumanizes during the event. People often forget the boys that are just out there doing as they are told. They look to congress, or the president or to the leaders of other countries…they make it an “event” or a “situation” or a “military action”. They don’t face the reality that it’s dirty, gut wrenching, diseased, no time to think reality for men that might not even be of legal age to drink. These are the men that are fighting….not some politician behind a desk…or a faceless entity. These men are brothers, sons, husbands, fathers and friends. They are not just numbers at the bottom of a count sheet…no matter how much the public and the politicians try to make it so…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

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