Karl Marlantes—the former Marine and the author of the highly acclaimed Vietnam War novel, Matterhorn —was the subject of the July 27 edition of the excellent PBS-TV show “Moyers and Company.” Marlantes, who will receive the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award at the National Leadership Conference Aug. 11 in Irving, Texas, spoke to host Bill Moyers about the subject of his incisive new book, What It Is Like to Go to War .
The informing and engaging conversation centered on Marlantes’s battlefield experiences as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam during the height of the war, as well as his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his violence-filled Vietnam War tour of duty.
“’Thou shalt not kill’ is a tenet you just do not violate, and so all your young life, that’s drilled into your head, ” Marlantes says in the interview. “And then suddenly, you’re eighteen or nineteen and they’re saying, ‘Go get ‘em and kill for your country.’ And then you come back and it’s like, ‘Well, thou shalt not kill’ again.
“Believe me, that’s a difficult thing to deal with. You take a young man and put him in the role of God, where he is asked to take a life—that’s something no nineteen-year-old is able to handle.”
To view the entire show on line, go to http://billmoyers.com/segment/karl-marlantes-on-what-its-like-to-go-to-war/