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A not-so-distant mirror

Matterhorn,’ a Vietnam novel by Karl Marlantes

In
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I just finished reading Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes's novelized rendering of my generation's war: Vietnam. Unfortunately, in its illuminating brutality, cultural insensitivity, racism, stupidity, fear, boredom, waste, and the top-down politics of war, Vietnam offers a powerful mirror for much of what's currently transpiring in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mud and leeches are everywhere. Oozing infected sores mark all those regularly out in the bush, as does the loyalty to one's fellow marines of Bravo Company.

But for me, perhaps more than this important book's very powerful and compelling story, Matterhorn is a trigger for haunting memories: Friends and acquaintances lost and maimed. Hopeful futures destroyed. Faith in leaders grossly undermined. But also the proud beliefs and experiences of fellow protesters whose demonstrations against the war helped to end it.

For those who lived the war and those who strongly opposed it, Vietnam will be with us forever.

What, When, Where

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War. By Karl Marlantes. El Leon Literary Arts, 2009. 690 pages; $39.95 (paperback, $19.95). www.amazon.com.

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