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Fields of Fire Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2001
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“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:
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Webb, a former officer of Marines who earned multiple Purple Hearts and the Navy Cross while serving with the infantry during the Vietnam War, is undoubtedly a badass who has walked the walk, and it shows in his critically acclaimed debut novel, FIELDS OF FIRE.
The novel mainly follows three characters: Snake, a crude man from a working class background who finds his home in war as a Marine infantryman; Lieutenant Hodges, a man who comes from a long pedigree of Appalachian-based American fighting men who perished in war and is seeking the approval of his "ghosts"; and Goodrich, a yuppie who left Harvard, decided to enlist to see what he was made of, and finds that he doesn't like the view.
The depictions of infantry combat are technically accurate without reading like an FM, and the way Webb describes infantry banter gives outsiders an authentic glimpse and takes those who have walked that path back to those days of being barrel-chested freedom fighters.
The most impressive part is that Webb doesn't just focus on infantry life or try and glorify the Vietnam War. FIELDS OF FIRE is a time capsule, an accurate representation of the times and politics therein. The anti-war movement is covered with an even-keel, and the depictions of racial tensions are not only spot on, but once more relevant in our current time.
FIELDS OF FIRE is often acclaimed as the best Vietnam fictional novel of the era, and having read it, it is clear to see why. Highly recommended to fans of history and war fiction.
The novel - I am not quite a reader of novels; but, this one was simply true to form. Some parts I found myself laughing; others rather saddened. Senator Webb simply captured the timeless meaning of being a "grunt". I have long held the belief that any service member who has served in the Grunts will know and realize that soldiers are timeless; that grunts of today are no different from those of Roman Empire times and/or earlier and/or later. He simply wrote of the craziness and fluid movement of battlefields well and to his credit the book ended not in the manner I would have wished; however, the Vietnam War didn't end in any way or manner that any service member I know of would have wanted it to end.
I wanted to give this book 5 stars; but something is holding me back and it is simply likely my own personal reflections and internalizations.
The story grabs you by the scruff of your neck, yanks you out of your comfortable chair and transports you to the front lines and forces you to experience for yourself the raw sights, sounds and smells of the killing fields up close and personal.
This novel gives you an insight into: a) The dirty "politics" of war, b) The raw and heartless manipulations by the ruling elites who sent our soldiers half way around the world to be maimed and to die for no justifiable reason, c) The stupidity of getting bogged down in an ill-conceived, ill-defined, murky mission, forcing our soldiers to fight it with one hand tied behind their backs and, d) The incredible price so many of our braves have paid for doing what their "country" has asked of them.
This is an important read because not much has changed since then. We stubbornly refuse to learn our lessons from it. Our ruling elites continue to have an insatiable appetite for stupid, ill-defined, senseless wars. They keep sending our men and women to killing fields in far away places with little to show for it while they sit in their posh, comfortable offices, wrapped in the American flag, claiming to be the defenders of "our" values and "our" freedoms.
A must read for every concerned citizen.