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Fields of Fire Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


“In my opinion, the finest of the Vietnam novels.”
— Tom Wolfe

“Few writers since Stephen Crane have portrayed men at war with such a ring of steely truth.”
The Houston Post

“A novel of such fullness and impact, one is tempted to compare it to Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.”
The Oregonian

Look for these other Bantam novels by James Webb:

The Emperor’s General

and on sale now in hardcover:

Lost Soldiers

From the Inside Flap

They each had their reasons for being a soldier.

They each had their illusions. Goodrich came from Harvard. Snake got the tattoo ? Death Before Dishonor ? before he got the uniform. And Hodges was haunted by the ghosts of family heroes.

They were three young men from different worlds plunged into a white-hot, murderous realm of jungle warfare as it was fought by one Marine platoon in the An Hoa Basin, 1969. They had no way of knowing what awaited them. Nothing could have prepared them for the madness to come. And in the heat and horror of battle they took on new identities, took on each other, and were each reborn in fields of fire....

Fields of Fire is James Webb?s classic, searing novel of the Vietnam War, a novel of poetic power, razor-sharp observation, and agonizing human truths seen through the prism of nonstop combat. Weaving together a cast of vivid characters, Fields of Fire captures the journey of unformed men through a man-made hell ? until each man finds his fate. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

"The Evening Chorus" by Helen Humphreys
From a writer of delicate and incandescent prose, "The Evening Chorus" offers a beautiful, spare examination of the natural world and the human heart. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (August 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553583859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553583854
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Its very well written with a good story and interesting characters.
Francis J. Lumia
In summary, I think this is a very important book by a very decorated and brave individual that shows the mental conflicts and pain of war.
R. Spell
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves war novels, the Vietnam War era, or just a good read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

240 of 245 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mallen on May 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A lot has been said about style, etc. that I agree with & won't repeat. Suffice to say James Webb was a platoon commander in Delta Co./1st Battalion/5th Marines: I was a grunt (said with pride) in C/1/5. When I first opened this book back in late '70s and saw the map of the An Hoa basin - the "Arizona territory", Go Noi (No-go) Island, Liberty Bridge, the Phu Locs - the hairs on my neck stiffened, and then I let out an "Alllright!!" (scared a few bookstore patrons, nbd).

When you're reading this you are walking down the same trails, setting up ambushes in the same spots, taking fire from the same tree-lines that Lt. Webb and this young (then)PFC walked & fought from. Hell, it was like goin' home for a visit!

I had the chance to meet James Webb during the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and thank him for writing this personally. He still had the look in the eyes: quiet, deadly calm, with steel-trap analytical processes going on upstairs. At his swearing-in ceremony for Secretary of the Navy (he remembered this grunt from two chance meetings & sent me an invitation!), as soon as he was "official", he stopped the show, called up some of the men who had served with him back in An Hoa, and gave them the medals and commendations he had recommended so many years before but had never been given to them. Outstanding!

Jim has the courage of his convictions that he later resigned rather than acquiesce to a polically-motivated evisceration of the Naval service he was entrusted with. He exemplifies the Marine officer - I know of only one other, a Lieutenant in C co, that I had as much respect for, and sadly he didn't make it out alive. He's the real deal: this old grunt would assault the fire-and-brimstone-beaches of hell if James Webb was commanding!
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107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By T. Gabriel on September 17, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jim Webb served his time in Vietnam during one of my nearly three years in Vietnam. I found this book just after the original publication in 1979. It was as if I was reading a biography of my own service with the grunts in the 1st Marine Division. In the years since I have always admired his work, first as a Platoon and Company Commander in 5th Marines and then as Secretary of the Navy and as an author.

Fields of Fire fully described the green hell that was Vietnam for every Marine infantryman who served there.

If you want to get a feel for what that war was like, read this book. If you think you might want to go fight in a war, read this book.
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Charles W. Houseworth on July 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read Jarhead on a whim earlier this past week. Anthony Swofford, the author, is a gifted young writer. But the book left me feeling empty, even angry. There was an attitude about Swofford and many of his Marine Corps buddies that just rubbed me the wrong way. Whiney might be the right word. Furthermore, Swofford through the course of the book seems to have been in a serious, depressive state that probably required professional help. It does not appear that he received that help prior to being discharged from the Marine Corps. Based on several of the Jarhead reviews I read on Amazon, I then read James Webb's Fields of Fire. Granted, it was a novel and it was based on the Vietnam war, not the first Iraq war. But the book was much more satisfying. In fact, it was a terrific read. Webb's description of war, and how Marines of various backgrounds experienced and dealt with it, was unforgettable. Until now, I thought that Anton Myrer's epic Once and Eagle was the best war novel I had ever read. Fields of Fire rivals it. It is not nearly as lengthy as Myrer's novel, and the characters are not developed quite as well, but the prose and the realism are absolutely first rate. So, here's my recommendation. First read Jarhead. Its an easy read, its popular, and you can appreciate a great young writer from whom we will be hearing much in the future. Then read Fields of Fire. Webb, like Swofford, has also been there and done that. Together the books provide two very interesting compares and contrasts of the Marine Corps infantry in wartime situations. My bet is you will be much more satisfied with the latter.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mouthpiece on April 30, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I started reading novels about Nam when I got home from the Army in 1977 and have read a lot of them. Without a doubt, this is the best one I have read - over and over again through the years. James Webb brings a squad of grunts at the end of the pipeline in Vietnam to life. Every man in the squad has a nickname: Snake (you will come to love him), Phony, Senator, Cannonball, Bagger, Waterbull, Wild Man, Baby Cakes, Ogre, etc. Each character is developed and the background of the main characters before they became part of the Corps is flashbacked to. The squad is commanded by a newly commissioned 2nd Lt. named Robert E. Lee Hodges, a real grit as Snake says, but one who knows how to call in artillery support when needed in a hurry. The utter futility of patrolling endlessly through the An Hoa valley as "bait", trying to draw an elusive enemy out to fight comes through loud and clear. The firefights are breathtaking and the sheer terror of having the perimeter overrun by sappers or being on an LP and hearing movement is unbelieveable. This book brought back so many memories of the 1960s it is like going into a time warp: from the popular music, to the figures of speech used, to the thoughts of the men as they count down their time before they can go back to The World. Unlike many other Nam novels this actually goes into the experiences of a couple of the men when they return to the States only to discover that no one acts like there is even a war on, treating them like outcasts. The incredible camaraderie of men in fighting holes protecting each other in battle as well as the racial tensions of the time in the rear areas comes through loud and clear. I have read all of Webb's novels and this one is his best. Two Nam books come to mind that are close to, but not quite as good as this one: Body Count and Close Quarters.
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