Tag Archives: viet nam war

A very good Viet Nam War novel

I finished another book over the weekend that is worth mentioning.

“Matterhorn; A Novel of the Viet Nam War” by Karl Marlantes is just that. It is a very gritty account of a Marine company in combat in 1969. Marlantes wastes no ink on any subtleties or side plots. From the very first page, he places the reader into the “bush,” with the main character, a brand new second lieutenant who is trying to figure out his job while simultaneously trying to keep from getting killed. The reader lives with the Marine company and experiences the mud, the sweat and the fear. The story is involved and detailed.

Marlantes brings out all the absurdities of war — good officers and bad; expert Marines and inept; courage and stupidity; blacks and whites. The story reminds me a lot of “Fields of Fire” by James Webb; “The 13th Valley” by John del Vecchio; and “Better Times Than These” by Winston Groom.

This is not a “chick book” by any stretch of the imagination. Mrs. Poolman would have no interest. However, if you like military fiction, especially of the Viet Nam era, this is a must-read.

Advertisements

A good beach-read

Another book report. Why not? It’s a slow summer and I don’t have a lot else to write about.

As I have mentioned in the past, both Mrs. Poolman and I love to read for pleasure. Her tastes tend to run towards “chicky books” while I like history, mystery, military and adventure. Nelson DeMille is an author whose books just jump off the shelf and into my hands when he releases a new work. I just finished “The Lion,” and I was not disappointed.

If you like adventure novels and are not familiar with DeMille, you need to introduce yourself immediately. He is a great story teller. His works aren’t great literature and there are no deep meanings to his writing. He just writes excellent stories that are compelling to read.

I first “met’ DeMille thorugh his novel, “Charm School,” which is the story of an Air Force air attaché in Moscow during the Cold War who discovers the Soviets have a group of Korean and Viet Nam War POWs who they use to help train Soviet spies how to pass as Americans (hence, the title “Charm School”). Since then, I have read nearly everything else he has written and they all range from very good to excellent.

He has several main characters which appear in multiple novels. Paul Brenner is an Army CIS investigator who appears in The General’s Daughter” (John Travolta played him in the movie.) andUp Country.” Retired NYC police detective John Corey is the main character in Plum Island,”  “Nightfall,” “The Lion’s Game” and “The Lion.” Actually both Brenner and Corey are really the same person. They just have different names and appear in different stories. Both are wise-cracking, sarcastic and iconoclastic criminal investigators.

The Lion is the story of John Corey’s quest to track down a Libyan-Arab Jihadist assassin, aka “The Lion,” who has come to the United States to kill Corey and a bunch of other people. His motive is based on revenge for the death of his family in the US air raids in the mid 1980s. The Lion is ruthless and creative. This is not a book for the squeamish. If it were a movie, it would get an “R” rating for violence.

The Lion is a sequel to an earlier DeMille novel, “The Lion’s Game.” You can read the sequel without reading the initial story first, but you would enjoy both books more if you read them in order.

The book has it faults. DeMille stretches believability with The Lion’s initial attempt to kill Corey’s wife. It is far too bizarre. And at the other end of the novel, when Corey is lured into a final showdown with the assassin, the only person who is clueless to what is coming is Corey himself.

Corey narrates much of the story in the first-person. His wise-cracks and his mental side comments make him fun to hang out with, even if there is someone trying to kill him and everyone around him.

While some of DeMille’s other novels have plot twists and some mystery, The Lion is predictable, straight adventure. You know what is happening and how it will eventually end, but it’s still interesting to be along for the ride.

In summary, it is a fun summer read. Go findThe Lion’s Game” first, and then read “The Lion.” You won’t be disappointed.