Fire Support Base Matterhorn: a fortress carved out of the grey-green mountain jungle. Cold monsoon clouds wreath its mile-high summit, concealing a battery of 105-mm howitzers surrounded by deep bunkers, carefully constructed fields of fire and the 180 marines of Bravo Company. Just three kilometres from Laos and two from North Vietnam, there is more isolated outpost of America's increasingly desperate war in Vietnam.Second Lieutenant Wai Mellas, 21 years old and just a few days into his 13-month tour, has barely arrived at Matterhorn before Bravo Company is ordered to abandon their mountain and sent deep in-country in pursuit of a North Vietnamese Army unit of unkwn size. Beyond the relative safety of the perimeter wire, Mellas will face disease, starvation, leeches, tigers and an almost invisible enemy. Beneath the endless jungle capy, Bravo Company will confront competing ambitions, duplicitous officers and simmering racial tensions. Behind them, always, Matterhorn. The impregnable mountain fortress they built and then abandoned, without a shot, to the North Vietnamese Army.
A graduate of Yale University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Karl Marlantes served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valour, two Purple Hearts and ten air medals. This is his first novel.