I heard Karl Marlantes, the author of Matterhorn (see May 7th), interviewed on NPR about his new memoir What It Is Like to Go to War, based on his own experiences in Vietnam.
From the author of the New York Times Bestseller Matterhorn, this is a powerful nonfiction book about the experience of combat and how inadequately we prepare our young men and women for war.
War is as old as humankind, but in the past, warriors were prepared for battle by ritual, religion and literature—which also helped bring them home. In a compelling narrative, Marlantes weaves riveting accounts of his combat experiences with thoughtful analysis, self-examination and his readings—from Homer to the Mahabharata to Jung. He talks frankly about how he is haunted by the face of the young North Vietnamese soldier he killed at close quarters and how he finally finds a way to make peace with his past. Marlantes discusses the daily contradictions that warriors face in the grind of war, where each battle requires them to take life or spare life, and where they enter a state he likens to the fervor of religious ecstasy.
Just as Matterhorn is already being acclaimed as a classic of war literature, What It Is Like To Go To War is set to become required reading for anyone—soldier or civilian—interested in this visceral and all too essential part of the human experience.