278,250 Pages

Karl A. Marlantes
Head shot of Mr Marlantes wearing jacket and necktie.   There is some greying of the temples, and he seems unshaven.
Karl Marlantes at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born December 24, 1944(1944-12-24) (age 76)
Astoria, Oregon
Residence Woodinville, Washington
Ethnicity Greek, Finnish, Norwegian[1]
Alma mater Yale 1967, economics
University of Oxford (Master's Degree)
Occupation international business consultant
Notable work(s)

What It Is Like to Go to War. Atlantic Monthly Press. 2011. ISBN 9780802119926. 

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War. Atlantic Monthly Press. 2010. ISBN 9780802119285. 
Home town Seaside, Oregon
Spouse(s) Giselle (div.)
Anne[2] (m. ~2007)
Children 5 (4 w/Giselle)
Peter, Laurel, Sophia, Alexander, and Devon
AwardsWilliam E. Colby Award (Pritzker Military Library)
Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize (Center for Fiction)
Indies' Choice Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year (2011)
•James Webb Award for Distinguished Fiction (Marine Corps Heritage Foundation)[3]
Washington State Book Award for fiction (2011)[4]
Military career
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1968–1970
Service number 0-103269
Unit C Co, 1st Bn, 4th Marines, 3 MarDiv, FMF
Battles/wars Vietnam war
Awards Navy Cross (at The Rockpile)

Karl Marlantes (born December 24, 1944) is an American author, businessman, and decorated Marine veteran.


Marlantes grew up in Seaside, Oregon,[8] a small logging town. He was a football player and student body president at Seaside High School (class of 1963),[9] where his father was principal. He won a National Merit Scholarship and attended Yale University. He was a member of Jonathan Edwards College[10] and Beta Theta Pi. [11] He played wing forward for Yale's Rugby team.[12] He was a Rhodes Scholar at University College, Oxford.[13][14][15][16] He left after one semester to volunteer for active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. After his military service, he returned to Oxford and earned a Master's Degree. He made his living as an international business consultant, in India, England, Singapore, and France.[17]

He is the author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, a New York Times Top 10 Bestseller published in 2010. Sebastian Junger, in The New York Times, declared Matterhorn: "one of the most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam".[18] Matterhorn received the 2011 Washington State Book Award in the Fiction category.[4] The novel is based on Marlantes' combat experience in the Vietnam War, as a Marine Corps 2nd and 1st lieutenant.[19] His decorations include the Navy Cross, Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and ten Air Medals. After his combat tour, he served another year of active duty at HQMC. He suffered a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder that led to divorce; he continues treatment for it.

He published a non-fiction work in 2011 entitled What It Is Like To Go To War about modern veteran life upon return to the civilian world.[20] Bill Moyers interviewed Marlantes in connection with the promotion of this book in July 2012.[21]

The Navy Cross citationEdit

Marlantes was awarded the Navy Cross for an action in Vietnam in which he, as a company commander, led an assault on a hilltop bunker complex the North Vietnamese occupied.[22]

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant Karl A. Marlantes (MCSN: 0-103269), United States Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism while serving as Executive Officer of Company C, First Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. During the period 1 to 6 March 1969, Company C was engaged in a combat operation north of the Rockpile and sustained numerous casualties from North Vietnamese Army mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and automatic weapons fire. While continuing to function effectively in his primary billet, First Lieutenant Marlantes skillfully combined and reorganized the remaining members of two platoons, and on 6 March initiated an aggressive assault up a hill, the top of which was controlled by a hostile unit occupying well-fortified bunkers. Under First Lieutenant Marlantes' dynamic leadership, the attack gained momentum which carried it up the slope and through several enemy emplacements before the surprised North Vietnamese force was able to muster determined resistance. Delivering a heavy volume of fire, the enemy temporarily pinned down the friendly unit. First Lieutenant Marlantes, completely disregarding his own safety, charged across the fire-swept terrain to storm four bunkers in succession, completely destroying them. While thus engaged, he was seriously wounded, but steadfastly refusing medical attention, continued to lead his men until the objective was secured, a perimeter defense established, and all other casualties medically evacuated. Then, aware that all experienced officers and noncommissioned officers had become casualties, he resolutely refused medical evacuation for himself. His heroic actions and resolute determination inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in a decisive rout of the North Vietnamese Army force with minimal friendly casualties. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, First Lieutenant Marlantes upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals Action Date: March 1–6, 1969 Service: Marine Corps Reserve Rank: First Lieutenant Company: Company C Battalion: 1st Battalion Regiment: 4th Marines Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.) FMF [23]



  1. Glenn, Tom (September? 2011). "Author Q&A: Karl Marlantes". The Washington Independent Review of Books. Retrieved 2012-12-29. "My mother’s family came from Norway and Finland and my father’s family came from Greece" 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Blake, John (April 9, 2012). "A war hero returns home, 40 years later". CNN. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  3. "Karl Marlantes". Chicago: Pritzker Military Library. October 20, 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gwinn, Mary Ann (September 15, 2011). "2011 Washington State Book Awards winners". Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  5. Gordon, Gideon (May 13, 1964). "ROTC's problem: student apathy". p. 7. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  6. "Interview - Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn". Vietnam Magazine. September 14, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  7. "Karl Marlantes" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2012. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000197584. Retrieved 2012-12-30.  Gale Biography In Context. (subscription required)
  8. Baker, Jeff (September 10, 2011). "Seaside native Karl Marlantes follows up his celebrated novel 'Matterhorn'". Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  9. "Seaside Reunion 1965". Seaside, Oregon: Seaside HS class of 1965. October 2, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  10. "Six Fraternities Select Members". Yale Daily News. October 15, 1964. p. 6. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  11. Singer, George (November 14, 1966). "Yale Charities Drive To Aid Local, International Projects". Yale Daily News. pp. 1, 6. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  12. Reilly, Mike (May 11, 1967). "Ruggers close season against New York RC". Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  13. "Yale Seniors Win Rhodes, NCAA Awards". Yale Daily News. January 4, 1967. p. 3. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  14. Gwinn, Mary Ann (March 21, 2010). "Northwest author Karl Marlantes took three decades to climb his own personal 'Matterhorn'". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  15. McSmith, Andy (August 12, 2010). "In the shadow of Vietnam: A close encounter with Karl Marlantes, US marine turned literary giant". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  16. Marlantes, Karl (2011). What it is like to go to war. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 135. ISBN 9780802119926. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  17. "Laurel Marlantes - biography". Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  18. Junger, Sebastian (April 1, 2010). "The Vietnam Wars: ‘Matterhorn’". New York Times Book Review. 
  19. Kurutz, Steven (May 31, 2010). "Karl Marlantes On His 30-Year Quest To Publish ‘Matterhorn’". The Wall Street Journal. 
  20. Samet, Elizabeth D. (September 16, 2011). "Coming to Terms With the Experience of Combat". New York Times Sunday Book Review. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  21. "Karl Marlantes on the Mindset of a Modern Warrior". Moyers & Company. July 27, 2012. 
  22. Marlantes, Karl (August 20, 2011). "The Truth About Being A Hero; Karl Marlantes on what makes men heroes--in their own hearts and in the eyes of others".  (excerpt from "What It Is Like to Go to War" by Karl Marlantes, to be published Aug. 30 by Atlantic Monthly Press.)
  23. "Valor awards for Karl A. Marlantes | Military Times Hall of Valor". Military Times. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 

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