Ryan Toh's Reviews > Fields of Fire

Fields of Fire by James Webb
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Nov 10, 11

Read from October 25 to November 05, 2011

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 on the reality of war, detailing the brutality of it. Anyone can die in this novel, the lucky ones are the ones who are injured and are evacuated out of the war zone. Blown up bodies and flying body parts are not uncommon.

The book clearly echoes the author’s frustration with the whole situation of the Vietnam war. The novel highlights the disconnect between the soldiers and the civilians at home, and even the military personnel distanced from the actual fighting. Both “hawks” and “doves” were unsympathetic to the suffering of the soldiers. With the “hawks” sending soldiers into mindless battle and viewing the men involved as exploitable and expendable, and the doves wishing the war to end, but antagonising the soldiers as “killing machines,” the soldiers were left with nobody but themselves to take emotional refuge with. With much of the country indifferent or antagonistic against veterans, they are alienated from society. This highlights a major consequence of war often overlooked: that those involved are disregarded, perhaps as nothing more than killers. But this book emphasises that soldiers are people too, with families that care about them.
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