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Author Topic: Book: Vietnam War Novel: Matterhorn  (Read 3838 times)
Rattler
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« on: 12 September 2010, 12:27:05 »
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Havent read the book, but I heard a lot about it on other sites (it does not exist in German and we cannot buy it in English here), finally I now found an online link to it, I guess many here will find it interesting.

The novel treats about a company of Marines who build, abandon and retake an outpost on a remote hilltop in Vietnam (the "Matterhorn"). According to its publishers, the author, a highly decorated vet, took around 30 years writing the book, and it is supposedly one of the "different" books about war (and, of cause, includes a FACMan as one of the characters).

From a resencion in the NY-Times, excerpts:

Quote
Reading his account of the bloody folly surrounding the Matterhorn outpost, you get the feeling Marlantes is not overly worried about the attention span of his readers; you get the feeling he was not desperate or impatient to be published. Rather, he seems like a man whose life was radically altered by war, and who now wants to pass along the favor. And with a desperate fury, he does. Chapter after chapter, battle after battle, 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. -snip-

The story is told from the point of view of a young second lieutenant, Mellas, who joined the Marines for confused and vaguely patriotic reasons that are quickly left in tatters by military incompetence. At great psychic and physical cost, Mellas and the rest of Bravo Company, Fifth Marine Division, climb a steep mountain near the intersection of Laos and the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam, then build an outpost capable of withstanding enemy artillery. As soon as they finish, they are told to abandon it because they are needed for a large operation farther south.-snip-

Soon enough, however, they are ordered to retake Matterhorn, which has since been occupied by the enemy. It is there, on the flanks of their own outpost, that the horror and absurdity of war are finally played out....snip.



The online link I found to read some or all of it:

http://books.google.es/books?id=aWmi9nbSr04C&lpg=PP1&ots=QbLBotLRTr&dq=Matterhorn%3A%20A%20Novel%20of%20the%20Vietnam%20War&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

A bit about the FACMan here:
http://books.google.es/books?id=aWmi9nbSr04C&pg=PT465&lpg=PT465&dq=vietnam+facman&source=bl&ots=QbLBotLQUq&sig=40ANq8bFfn_STB7jNaUJQlfWC-c&hl=es&ei=lqeMTIDjLoSQjAe81aGpBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Rattler
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"War does not determine who is right, war determines who is left...": The Rattler Way Of Life (thanks! to Solideo)... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9v3Vyr5o2Q
FACman
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« Reply #1 on: 12 September 2010, 17:57:59 »
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Change the location to FSB Argonne and that could be my story. An abandoned FB overlooking the Ho Chi Minh Trail, that had to be re-taken and manned to interdict the southward flow of men and supplies. Went on one squad (10-12 guys) patrol into Laos, where we came across a wide (12'/4m) muddy trail through the jungle. The trail was covered from side to side in fresh tennis shoe prints, and none of us wore tennis shoes. There had to have been hundreds of NVA using that trail before we got there. I was glad when that patrol was over.
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Rattler
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« Reply #2 on: 12 September 2010, 23:11:38 »
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Jody, while I now have only read 10% of the book available online (of the about 10% overall posted there), I already had a hunch about that from the first few lines (that it had a bit of your story in a novel, I mean), and that is why I posted it: The FacMan interaction called my attention initially, the physical layout sooooo much matching your photos...

From what I can see so far, what has me flabbergasted is the difference of jargon of our forces, all that I read there (and I believe it after having been liason to US forces many times, and also from my piloting experiences) would be rather unthinkable in the German forces, at least when we are in "working hours" (yes, Germans have a working hours schedule, important for court martials sometimes, "free" hours are treated differntly than "work" hours soldier law wise), the language would have been instantly corrected by superiors, not only for obligation by the rules of conduct, but from a "general" idea imprinted on all of us German soldiers about proper conduct in the field: CoC has always to be respected (and we are sissies compared to the French, where soldiers playing tennis with an officer outside work hours would be something unimaginable - they cal it fraternizwation, whichfor Germans could only happen within working hours - , whereas stuff like this is expixitlY fostered in the German army for the camaderie/corps spirit aspect, and also from our WWI and WII tradition).

OTOH, when I think back, we (in the 70s) always won against the Marines or US army soldiers (all well muscle packed from the PT and their gyms) when survival marches or even long range marches were called, with each group/troop on its own, also in tank battles when we ran OPFOR we usually won despite heavy tech disadvantage (but with the early Leos having the more reliable and better terrain adapted tank), and I think our traditional "task" scheme vs. the US "orders" scheme oriented approach had a lot to do with that also, but it was not the main factor, for me overall awareness always played a big role:

With all due respect, would you consider an intelligence difference between a strictly professional and a draftee force (I recall we ran into "comic strip" descriptions of how to handle arty pieces when meeting up with US guys as obviously many of the US pros were not really fully literate, but I also am aware that the US went back to draft system during the Vietnam War somy idea might be flawed right from the start) being a factor in modern warfare? I have always been wondering (and ecxpecting actually) why the Brits have so much (percentage wise) lower CAS rates than the US, but when I run into reports of an US soldier taking a leak from his Bradley in front of Iraqui women and everybody being surprised he got shot straightaway then it all starts making an arkward sense again...)?

I am just reading into it, so dont take this as my gospel, but I find the difference englightengly (disturbingly) interesting.

Rattler
« Last Edit: 12 September 2010, 23:25:44 by Rattler » Logged

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stoffel
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« Reply #3 on: 13 September 2010, 07:50:39 »
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Matt,

One of the other reasons the US has so many deaths are the IEDs and specially the way they react to it.
Most of them race along roads, being excellent targets for IED attacks because you dont see them.
Now look at our forces, only 3 vehicles were hit by IEDs.

The reason, we drive slow, our troops receive a 6 week training course to detect IED and to pay attention to things that arent normal in the field.
For instance a, a piece of paper, or a soda can, or piles of rocks anything.
If a tc detects something strange the whole team goes down and search the area.
We also have some simple electronic countermeasures to defeat the use of telephones and remotegarage openers as detonators;)
With this method the men have found scores of IEDs.

The peeing is something else remarkable, we did an exercise two years ago where the second man in command also had to piss after a meeting in the village.
Since there were no toilets (exercise village) he did that against the church in our village.
We had some liberty to create  stories in the big picture which we did at once.
I saw him, and started a row, we started yelling at his men shooting in the air and waving with our machettes, they felt very uncomfortable.
The village oldest wanted that men to be arrested if he ever made appearance in the village again, and later that day our freedom fighters attacked the base a few times to show them we were mad.
He later said that he wasnt aware what he was doing, it made a big impact on him.
The entire company learned a valuable lesson Smiley
The man was send home awaiting courtmarshall in the story, he remained with his unit but was degraded to private for the duration of the exercise to great joy of his men.

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My topics are about my personal opinion, my thoughts and what I think. They do not reflect the official opinion of the ministry of defense of the Netherlands.
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