Karl Marlantes grew up in Seaside, Oregon. He was a National Merit Scholar, attended Yale University, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He received the Navy Cross, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts and ten Air Medals. His first book, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, was written in 1977, but wasn't published until 2010. His other work, What It Is Like to Go to War, was published in 2011.