Just finished it. It’s a must read for anyone with any interest at all in the daily life of marine grunts in Quang Tri province in 1969. When you finish this book you can say you did a tour in Vietnam. You will certainly feel that way.
But there is much more than that to this story. It is about good and evil, and the difficulty and uncertainty of knowing what is good and what is evil. I still think I know the difference, but I know it’s not as easy as I thought.
Update: As of September 25, 2011 there are over 500 reviews at Amazon. 386 of them give it 5 stars.
Here is what I said about this book in a comment at Chicago Boyz:
Now everyone can have a tour of duty as a Marine grunt in Quang Tri Province in 1969, with all that entails. Jungle rot, leeches, incompetent leaders, thirst in a monsoon, man-eating tigers, death everywhere; and all that’s just for starters. Bravo company is ordered by a drunken colonel to build bunkers on a hill called Matterhorn even though it makes no sense; then they are ordered to abandon the bunkers; then the NVA takes them over, digs in and stages artillery attacks; so Bravo company is ordered to re-take Matterhorn only to be ordered to abandon it again. The battle to reclaim Matterhorn is grim. Food and water, ammo and medical supplies can’t get to Bravo company because the weather is socked in and choppers can’t fly. At one point each member of Bravo company is dying of thirst in a monsoon and is down to his last two 30-round M16 magazines. Three short bursts on full auto will empty them. They must hold their fire and engage the gooks in close quarters combat if they are to survive. Finally, a first lieutenant back at VCB (combat base) defies orders, persuades chopper pilots to risk their lives and machinery to save Bravo Company. It’s such a fine heroic moment any reader with a heart will hear the Marine Corps anthem playing in his head.
The ending marks this book in the genre of deep tragedy. Embark on this journey through 566 pages only if you are sure you are up to it. It’s a helluva ride.
Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharp’s Rifles books, says Matterhorn is a great book. He was speaking seriously, not just giving a cover blurb.