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“I've met Karl Marlantes a couple of times now, and each time I've been deeply impressed with his intense intelligence, his ability to tell a story, and his bravery to talk so very honestly about war, what he did in it, what he got out of it, and what he wishes were different, then and now. This...”see full review » see other reviews »
“This is one of the most moving, insightful and human books I've read in a long, long time. I'm not a soldier nor have been part of a war although I live in a society which fetishizes it to an egregious extreme in movies and games. Karl Marlantes reminds us that wars are fought by young men and women, most of them utterly fragile and without the spiritual or emotional means to survive war intact. ”Jorge Chavez wrote this review Monday, February 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Written by Marine Lt fighting in Vietnam in 1969 right after me. Also wrote novel 'Matterhorn' based on his personal experiences.”Doug Caldwell wrote this review Wednesday, January 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Remarkable book from the author of Matterhorn.”Martin A. Rubin wrote this review Tuesday, January 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Karl Marlantes is a highly decorated Marine, who struggled with his service for many years after he left the Marines. This book is brutal in its honesty, and is a great work for it. Marlantes goes to great pains to argue for a proactive approach to helping men and women returning from war to manage the experience. Marlantes is a rare thing: the philosopher/warrior, and this book is not only a great work but also an important one for a society, like that of the United States, that is quick to go to war but thinks so little of it.”Lisabeth F. Deans wrote this review Tuesday, January 22, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book should be required reading by all our elected officials and the military. I would also recommend this book to anyone prior to joining the service. Karl Marlantes served as an officer during the Vietnam War conflict. He explains, as the title indicates, what itâs like going to war. He does this in a very open and confessional way, almost making the reader feel that he is listening in on private and soul-searching conversation between the author and his conscious. The author goes beyond just explaining the consequences of war and offers suggestions on how we might prepare our warriors for battle, as well as their return from war. I have never seen, heard or read anything about a soldierâs experience of war so honestly and openly described. ”Jerry wrote this review Monday, January 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“ Do noÂÂt bother reading. This book is the authorÃ¢ÂÂs attempt to hang personal character flaws on society by claiming that society needs to better educate and train its military warriors. The book is filled with rationalizations, unfounded attributions, and mythological references, loosely bounded by the authorÃ¢ÂÂs Vietnam War era experiences, but including many individual failings involving his family and social interactions. The book may be cathartic for him, but anyone else reading it will see a character devoid of values, shallow and weak. HeÃ¢ÂÂs a crappy person writing about his crappiness, hoping to make a buck by extrapolating his failures to a grandiose cultural level. See "Intellectuals and Society" by Thomas Sowell for a thorough explanation. ”Bryan S wrote this review Monday, January 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Absolutely fascinating account of Marlantes' tour of duty in Vietnam and how he dealt with the "ghosts of war" after he came home. He shares insights into how we should prepare our soldiers physically, mentally and spiritually for the actions a soldier must make and repercussions of those battlefield choices. After studying the facts of Vietnam conflict, Marlantes' book made it real. He is a very talented writer and his story was very difficult to share but it has been a healing experience for him and hopefully help our veterans. ”Dianne G wrote this review Sunday, December 23, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Eye opening. Hopeful. ”Amy Jones wrote this review Friday, October 19, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Reviewed by Jennifer Miller on 8/30/11. ”MonitorBooks wrote this review Thursday, September 6, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Review for Karl Marlantes, What it is like to go to War
This book surprised me. After enjoying Matterhorn, I saw this in the library and decided to pick up a copy, not more than an interesting summer read. I definitely wasn't expecting such an epic exploration into the human soul.
Karl Marlantes takes a deep dive into the human psyche, enabled through the unique perspective of war and killing where men's hearts are exposed and their mettle is tested. He takes a very honest assessment of war, in stark contrast to other books such as Tommy Frank's American Soldier and Where Men Win Glory by John Krackhauer, he avoids siding with a current political party and takes a more global and historical contextualized perspective, criticising politicans in general who go to war as politicians, not as warriors. Marlantes states that as long as the world has madmen who are willing to kill, we need to have a culture of warriors who are trained to protect us. But he urges us to, like himself, take an honest view of the situation and acknowledge what war is.
First, war is where people kill and get killed. A warrior must ultimately use violence to take another's life. This is what we pay, then command our warriors to do. This should be stared straight in the eye, acknowledged for what it is, and dealt with. Second, war to Marlantes can be exhilarating; more than sex, drugs or any other intense (and potentially self-destructive) life experience. War is a part of our culture, America is a warlike culture and our young men are naturally drawn to the adventure of war.
Third, war confuses and scars the warrior and technology makes this more problematic. While war always involves the taking of a life, today's warriors are disconnected in new ways from the lives they are taking. In another book I'm reading on Curtis Lemay, his biographer remarks how strange it was for a new form of warrior to be engaged in intense combat with the germans, while returning to the barracks at night. Marlantes brings up the modern examples such as a B-52 high above the clouds or a reaper pilot who kills a terrorist just in time to get home for dinner. His treats this issue well, and in my line of work, this is a key issue to consider.
Besides his personal account of "what is like to go to war", Marlantes makes recommendations for the politicians who commit young men (and women now) to take lives. His most direct message is politicians must go to war as warriors, fully weighing the lot of the soldier they are sending. They must give the soldier a mission and consider the solmnety of the task they are commanding.
This was excellent food for thought, but I was surprised how much Marlantes understands our spiritual world. I would have preferred him to have stopped and dived deeper into my own worldview of a transcendent and monotheistic God, but he explores a very wide swath of spiritual literature -- Homer, the "Mahabharata," Native American rituals, medieval sagas and a diverse array of polytheistic traditions to paint a full panarama of the imprint war makes on a warrior's soul.
His most direct insight from this spiritual side of his book is that we all have a shadow, a dark side. Christians know this as original sin, but he gave the reality of human evil a good description. His proscription was to acknowledge our shadow, for without our ability to face it, its effects can be amplified and its effect much more destructive.
After explaining the warrior's spiritual condition, he had set the context to explore his own internal struggles with shame and pride, patriotism and the desire to fit in. His opens his heart and lays out his carefully studied emotions. So while I learned much from this book, I think I enjoyed it most because it came across similar to Andre Aggassi's Open, brutally honest because the author worked and reworked his memories until he got to the core ideas and primary causes for his feelings.”