Matterhorn (2006) by Karl Marlantes is an auspicious debut and probably one of the greatest books ever written about the Vietnam War. Story has it that Marlantes, a Yale graduate and Rhodes scholar who also served with distinction (garnering several medals) in the Vietnam War, spent 35 years working on the novel, which was rejected for publication several times. It's clear that one of the major characters Mellas, a Ivy league graduate, is a stand in for Marlantes, and most of the story is told through his eyes. However, there are several digressions that give the perspective of the war from the point of view of enlisted men, officers, helicopter pilots, and medical staff. Perhaps the most impressive aspects of the novel are found within the story lines about the "black power" soldiers, which is an unique insight into the politics of the times within the Marines. There are engrossing and stomach churning descriptions of the indignities of fighting in the bush (such as getting a leech caught in a man's urethra or catching shrapnel in the eye) and harrowing descriptions of battle. Along with other novel descriptions of things like surgical recovery on board naval ships as well as the decision making processes of officers and the impact these decisions have on the men on the ground that sometimes lead to impossible situations like being stranded without food, water, or ammunition. It took me awhile to get into the novel, but once in, it was a powerful and compelling story of men at war.