“We entered their strange land…
And they, the Vietcong wanted us gone.
The jungle wanted us gone.
Our fellow friends and brothers
rise and fell in the Jungle.
With, or without breath…
The VC sent some of us Home.
The Promise we made to return home
was kept in our hearts.
We cried in the Jungle,
and we cried back home.”
Recently I posted a blog entry about an almost historical book about the war in Vietnam written by a seasoned journalist—Neil Sheehan. The name of his controversial book is, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. This outstanding publishing piece of work, is a story about the U.S. involvement in the war in Indochina interwoven with a biography of John Paul Vann, an American adviser who went to Vietnam in 1962 and was killed there in 1972 in a helicopter crash.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s rogue comments and his removal from the Army last week, has brought the war in Iraq and Afghanistan back into the klieg lights. When this happens, the ghosts of the Vietnam return and hover over the news rooms of the media across America.
This war, in one way or another, has affected the full spectrum of American society, (e.g., political, business, military, and intellectual.) It’s difficult to forget an image in Washington, D.C. of a wall of polished black granite bearing the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died or are missing in action in Vietnam. This permanent remembrance of the tragedy reflects the extent to which Vietnam has pervaded the American psyche.
Sheehan writes, “The dominant characteristics of the senior leadership of the American armed forces had become professional arrogance, lack of imagination, and moral and intellectual insensitivity.” This institutional illness was the product of WWII victories. In Sheehan’s view, the over-confident and conventional-minded General Westmorland personified the shortfalls of American military power.
Another brilliant book about Vietnam which has taken the publishing world by storm is, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War written by Karl Marlantes. It has received rave reviews by the press. Below is one of them.
“A born storyteller, Marlantes has for decades thought and felt deeply about how to bring home the Vietnam war. The result, as we shadow a new Marine lieutenant almost from day one on the ground, is a beautifully crafted novel of unrivaled authenticity and power, filled with jungle heroism, crackerjack inventiveness, mud, blood, brotherhood, hatred, healing, terror, bureaucracy, politics, unfathomable waste, and unfathomable love. Lt. Waino Mellas—green, ambitious, an Ivy League boy—ascends the steepest learning curve of his life in dialogue so vivid it will grab and hold you until there are no more pages to turn.
Matterhorn is a tour de force of military fiction. I have never read a war novel, outside of War and Peace, that created such a living, breathing hologram of all sides of any war, from the smallest details – the songs, the hair, the drugs – to the most profound – the campaigns, the questions, the whole conflict as it breaks down and builds up class and race, inspiring and destroying patriotism in unforgettable characters who make you cry when they die and when they survive.
—Christina Robb, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of This Changes Everything: The Relational Revolution in Psychology”
Mr. Marlantes is a graduate of Yale University and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He served as 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 and his wife Anne live on a small lake in Western Washington. Matterhorn is his first novel.
I bumped into this novel by accident while surfing the books section of C-Span.org. Karl Marlantes’ interview immediately captured my attention. Marlantes talked about his novel about the Vietnam War for a bit more than 56 minutes.
Mr. Marlantes set out to write the book to explain to Americans what the war, and the Americans who fought in it, were like. It took him over thirty years to get it published, but he kept on pushing until the book finally hit the shelves. Mr. Marlantes discussed the book with Ralph Peters, author and Fox News Strategic Analyst.
I was so impressed with the interview, I decided to buy the book and continue my education on this war in Indochina that refuses to be forgotten. You can enjoy Mr. Marlantes’ entire interview by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. Good Day.