Just finished this outstanding book. It is certainly the best book I've read on the down, dirty and senseless war in Viet Nam. It's narrative describes the bloody and endless on-the-ground futility experienced at the company to grunt level. Of all the wars America has endured, this war was arguably the most bitter and grungy of them all, and this very believable book is the most disturbing of them all.
World War II may have been the last war with a clear purpose.
The Korean War was a nasty and brutal "police action" that never actually ended. It's purpose was vague or nonexistent. Korea was no threat to the United States. We stepped into a civil war in order to protect the non-Communist South Koreans from Communist Northern Korea. This was a dubious purpose from the beginning.
Viet Nam was another war we should never have entered. Viet Nam posed no threat to the United States. We let our nation get sucked into Viet Nam in an effort to stop the spread of Communism in the Far East. From our first tentative military action in Viet Nam preventing the "domino theory" of Communist take overs - it was a false purpose. Communism was already dieing of it's own failures.
But this book is not about the politics of war or the way the war was directed at the top. Matterhorn is about filthy, bloody, wounded, thirsty, hungry, dispirited, prejudiced, Marine foot soldiers dieing in muddy tall grass and in the bleak and desolate hills.
In the end it is a powerful indictment of modern warfare waged against impoverished farmers and innocent victims. An anti-war novel that really makes a point. Read it.