Hailed as the most important novel to emerge from the Vietnam War when first published in 1978, this book launched a spectacular writing career for James Webb that now includes four bestselling novels. A much-decorated former Marine who fought and was wounded in Vietnam, Webb tells the story of a platoon of tough, young Marines enduring the tropical hell of Southeast Asian jungles while facing an invisible enemy–in a war no one understands. Filled with the sounds and smells of combat, it is nevertheless a book about people, an amazing variety of closely observed characters caught up in circumstances beyond their control. It is a powerful work that brilliantly expresses the basic ambiguity of war: the repulsion of war’s destruction contrasted with the grisly attraction of war as the ultimate test of survival. Critics have compared this bestselling first novel to All Quiet on the Western Front and The Naked and the Dead, among other masterpieces, for authentically capturing the fury and agony of combat.This is the real war in Vietnam, told without histrionics or self pity. For many years the novel has been a part of the recommended reading list of the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
James Webb, a 1968 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1987 to 1988, is one of the most highly decorated Marines of the Vietnam era. He is the author of the bestsellers Fields of Fire and Sense of Honor, among other books.
“Few writers since Stephen Crane have portrayed men at war with such a ring of steely truth.” —The Houston Post
“In swift, flexible prose that does everything he asks of it—including a whiff of hilarious farce just to show he can do it—Webb gives us an extraordinary range of acutely observed people, not one a stereotype, and as many different ways of looking at that miserable war . . . Fields of Fire is a stunner.” —Newsweek
“James Webb has rehabilitated the idea of the American hero—not John Wayne, to be sure, but every man, caught up in circumstances beyond his control, surviving the blood, dreck, and absurdity with dignity and even a certain elan. Fields of Fire is an antiwar book, yes, but not naively, dumbly anti-soldier or anti-American . . . Webb pulls off the scabs and looks directly, unflinchingly on the open wounds of the Sixties.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“Webb’s book has the unmistakable sound of truth acquired the hard way. His men hate the war; it is a lethal fact cut adrift from personal sense. Yet they understand that its profound insanity, its blood and oblivion, have in some way made them fall in love with battle and with each other.” —Time
“A novel of such fullness and impact, one is tempted to compare it to Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.” —The Oregonian
“In my opinion, the finest of the Vietnam novels.” —Tom Wolfe