Fields of Fire
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Fields of Fire

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  2,298 ratings  ·  115 reviews
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 p...more
Mass Market Paperback, 0 pages
Published November 25th 1981 by Bantam Books (first published 1978)
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TK421
My father was a radio operator in Vietnam, '69-'70. He saw things that are still beyond my realm of understanding.

A few Christmases ago, he played a recording he had of a firefight he was in for my brothers and me. It was harrowing. What he told us after he were through with this recording was that his CO, James Webb, had written a book about this very firefight and other portions of the Vietnam War in a book called Fields of Fire.

Three days later, just before one of my brothers was set to lea...more
Lobstergirl

I think this is a powerful novel and although I'm certainly no expert, it seems to do an excellent job capturing the horror of the Vietnam War, the conflicting emotions of many who fought in it, the terrible moral dilemmas servicemen faced when confronting the enemy, and some of the ugliness that greeted them when they got back home. Jim Webb, who was a much-decorated Marine and published it in 1978, went on to have an extremely distinguished career in government and politics. I have a lot of ad...more
Erik Simon
I want this guy to be my vice president so badly that I thought I should read one, if not more, of his books. Plus, Donald highly recommended this tale. I have to say, I went in with low expectations since I thought of Webb as a politician before a writer (imagine Dick Cheney writing the great American novel), but it was only two chapters into the amazing prose and craft of this book that I realized it was the political career that was the fluke. This book is one of the best I've ever read on th...more
Larry Bassett
This book was published 32 years ago and this is the first time I have read it. James Webb is one of my U.S. Senators so I thought I would read some of the books he has written and found Fields of Fire. I avoided the draft to Vietnam although I was 1-A for a nervous month or so before my first son was born and provided me with an exemption. If you went through anything in the Vietnam era like that, you will probably find yourself somewhere in this book. This book is intense. For me at least.

But...more
Terri
Awful. Couldn't finish it.
I am surprised at all the terrific reviews. I felt the writing skill to be sorely lacking.
For a quality Vietnam War fiction I would rather recommend such books asMatterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War and The Things They Carried. the writing quality of Fields of Fire compared to top shelf novels such as those two..well, it's like chalk and cheese.
Alex Ginsberg
The junior senator from Virginia's brutal look at the Vietnam War. Plenty of war-related depressing brutality, but the real downer is how, in Webb's view, nobody on either side - hawks or doves - really cared about the guys who had to serve, or understood them. It was a polarizing moment in American history, but what Webb reminds us is that many of the men who fought the war wound up unable to relate to either side of the great cultural divide. Serving in combat, Webb seems to be telling us, ren...more
Jim
Probably expresses my feelings upon returning from Vietnam better than almost any other book I've read.
Robert
"Fields of Fire" a realistic Vietnam war book by James Webb, in the perspective of James Webbs experiences in Vietnam as a foot soldier in the "bush". The story is told from many different vantage points, ranks within the military, different races, economic classes, pacifists. By doing this James Webb eliminated most bias ideas so that I could read a balanced book that took no sides.

This book takes the horrors of war and shoves them in your face. It felt like I was in the bush with these men, li...more
Anna
Confession of a long-time Red Crosser: the Vietnam war always interested me (and the music from that era still kicks ass - Jefferson Airplane - I say no more).

This book is by far one of the best books I've read on that subject. It follows a number of soliders (based on actual persons, as they say) - how and why they decided to join the Marines, but mostly it is about a 6-month period in Vietnam.

It reads like fiction, but it implicitly asks a number of difficult questions: what is "wrong", what i...more
Cameron
I'm giving myself cool points for reading this book BEFORE he was my senator. This book is a good example of how good fiction is based on fact. In this case, Webb's experiences in Nam. He doesn't shy away from the naughty bits either - I recall he caught some criticism for describing some underage prostitution but hey, props to him for keepin' it real, especially since he was a politician when he was writing it.
Chris Shim
Highly influential in my decision to join the Marine Corps. A tale about Vietnam, but really, a story about society's estrangement from a war and the people left behind to fight it.

Jim Webb (D, VA) was one of the war's most decorated Marines (Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Valor Device, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster) and is now serving as the junior senator from Virginia.
Dave Classick
this is one of my all time favorite vietnam war books... which sounds a little wrong to say, but every time i read it ( ive read it 3 times now) i become so engrossed in the characters that i feel as though im actually there.... which is kinda of scary when you think about it.

definitely worth a read, particularly if you have a relative who is a vietnam vet
Bradley
James Webb was one of the most decorated U.S. Marines that served in the Vietnam war and his experience brings brutal authenticity to his well crafted novel. Webb has gone on to serve as Secretary of the Navy and is currently a U.S. Senator from Virginia. None of that takes away from the power of this novel of war.
Scott
Jim Webb, former USNA alum, Marine officer, former SECNAV and current Senator from VA. Taught English at USNA. Excellent account of small unit leadership in Vietnam.
Pat Dugan
This is how it really was and I know, because I was there with the author.
White Rabbit
The BEST Vietnam fiction available. Fields of Fire is one of my favorite books.
Mike
Run-of-the-mill police fiction.
Peter Fortune
There are many marvelous books about combat experiences, so how can we distinguish among them? I propose a Tolstoyan test: every good war novel is good in the same way; every great war novel is great in its own way. That is, a good novel about an experience like war captures the common elements of the experience; a great novel captures unique elements of the experience. To date, I’ve considered E. B. Sledge’s tale of Marine grunts in the Pacific (With the Old Breed) the best WWII combat book, an...more
Ryan Toh
Fields of Fire is another thinly veiled autobiography about the Vietnam War, similar to The Short Timers, but has a slightly different atmosphere and goes more in depth into the details of combat. Its author is James Webb, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and now a senator. The novel explores in depth the day in the life of a soldier in Vietnam. The novel is narrated in the third person, switching between following each of the main characters’ unique perspectives. This book goes in depth o...more
Steve Woods
Another one of many. Clearly much of what is written here is drawn from direct experience, it has that ring about it. The vagaries of combat in I Corps for US Marines were very different than those of Australians further south Further our different social and cultural contexts meant that aside from the nitty gritty of fighting a war, which always has so much in common for anyone involved, no matter time or background, nationality or place, our experiences were quite different...thank Christ. The...more
Franz
The old spiritual admonishes us to study war no more. That's a mistake. In order to stay out of unnecessary wars, all of us should study the best war novels so we at least have an inkling, however slight, of the devastation war creates not only physically to human bodies and to rural and urban landscapes, but more importantly the irreparable harm it too often does to the human spirit.

In my view, as a good a war novel as those by Mailer, Vonnegut, Heller. The author is currently a Senator from Vi...more
Justin
Throw out all of those copies of All Quiet on the Western Front and The Red Badge of Courage (well, don’t throw them out; donate them to a good cause): Fields of Fire is the war fiction we should be teaching in our high schools.

Webb fought in Vietnam and clearly drew heavily from his own experiences. The primary protagonist is a young, cocky lieutenant fresh out of West Point (Webb went to Vietnam as a young, cocky lieutenant fresh out of West Point). Goodrich’s experiences when he returns to Ha...more
Brunhilde
This book is wonderful. It is so well written. I was very tempted to make a new category of "Future Classic" just for it. It is every bit as good as Matterhorn, possibly a tad more raw which aids the genuine feeling of the book.

"There was a footlocker in a shed at home that his parents never opened. It was green, and had sat in the corner of the shed for as long as he could remember, under a grey footlocker that held some of his mother's old clothes. There was no indication on its outside as to...more
Michael
Jun 17, 2009 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of military history, fans of "All Quiet on the Western Front"
Recommended to Michael by: critically praised as a major work of the war.
In this gut wrenching story about Vietnam, Robert Lee Hodges, Jr. follows the family tradition and elects to serve his country in the Military Forces. He joins the Marines and after completing officer's training is processed at Da Nang in 1969. He needed a war to serve in, it was said of his family's military history, if there had been no Vietnam, he would have to invent one.
Webb tells the story of Lt. Hodges' unit in periodic chapters as we then see them in action.
Snake, nicknamed for the tatto...more
Peggy
Similar to Matterhorn, but Fire was written in '78, 31 years before Karl Marlantes' book was published. Most of the reviews of Fire call it "The most important book to come out of the Vietnam War," so it's been on my To-Read list. Matterhorn is superior to Fire in writing style and character development. But both books view the war through the eyes of the men in the field, as well as the self-centered decisions of the Armchair Warriors. Fire pulls the reader onto the battlefield right from the o...more
Christina
Dec 17, 2009 Christina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a heart.
Recommended to Christina by: Chris Britton
This book made me want to work for the Corps. It was recommended to me by my former boss (also a former Marine) and it definitely changed my life. The tragedy, passion and shear honesty of this book is enrapturing. I recommend it to anyone who wants to bone-up on military fiction.
Rose
I've read it twice, it's really amazing. My grandpa got it for me at Christmas, or my dad, something, and I thought it was about the Chicago Fire. Then I read the back. I thought "Ugh why did he get me a book?" even though I read a lot on Vietnam at that time, I liked eye witness books from people who lived it. But this is REALLY good. Usually when I judge something quickly it turns out to be opposite. So now I try to judge everything to be horrible so it turns out to be awesome.



"You cry when y...more
Tony
Webb does an excellent job of retelling the story through the eyes of the Marines in Vietnam through Fields of Fire. The book puts readers right into the war. When I read the book, I could imagine myself walking alongside the Marines on patrol or watching as a Marine runs out of his hole to save another. Either Webb's story-telling was just amazing or my imagination came out while reading this book, either way it was amazing.

There nothing hidden in the book, readers will experience and know wha...more
Patrick Dugan
I really enjoy James Webb as both an author and a politician. He's written quite a few awesome military fiction books including The Emperor's General and Lost Soldiers, both of which focus on the Marine Corps specifically. Webb served as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and several of his books are now on the USMC officer reading list.

Fields of Fire focuses on the intersecting paths of three young Marines from very different backgrounds all fighting in Vietnam for reasons of their own choosing...more
Tim
A sobering powerful book about the Vietnam war. The author paints the intensity and insanity of combat, and the moral dilemmas that "normal" citizens simply don't come across more than occasionally in their lifetime, certainly not on a daily and minute by minute basis.

The story line follows 5 "grunt" marines through their tour in Vietnam, with two survivors returning home to a society either not impressed, caring, or capable of comprehending the experience.

The author delves into the apparent aim...more
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James Henry "Jim" Webb, Jr. (born February 9, 1946) is the junior Senator from Virginia. He is also an author and a former Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Webb served as a Marine Corps infantry officer until 1972, and is a highly decorated Vietnam War combat veteran. During his four years with th...more
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