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Fields of Fire

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  4,100 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews
Fields of Fire by Webb. Bantam Books, Inc.,1978
Paperback, 0 pages
Published November 25th 1981 by Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall (first published 1978)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Michael Finocchiaro
James Webb's intense novel about Vietnam, Fields of Fire was mentioned in Rachel Maddow's Drift and it was this recommendation that made me want to read it. My step-father (dead almost 10 years now due to a heart attack) survived 3 tours in 'Nam, but remained a racist SOB after his return. I do recall his recurrent nightmares - similar to those of Goodrich in the book in fact: a babysan on the horizon, not sure if she is hiding a threat or innocently saying hello. This image epitomises the depic ...more
TK421
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Classick
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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Scott
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Chris Shim
Mar 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jim
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably expresses my feelings upon returning from Vietnam better than almost any other book I've read.
David
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
Never too proud to go for the cheap joke, I'll start by saying this is the best book so far by anyone who has formed a 2016 US Presidential campaign exploratory committee. But it is – seriously – an extremely good novel. It should probably be forced on all of those who seem to rise up once a generation of so for the purpose of needlessly sending somebody else's children into harm's way while they sit safely at home. It's damn unpleasant to read – just like war was, and is, damn unpleasant to li ...more
Paul
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took my sweet time getting around to reading this famous Vietnam War novel ... 38 years, in fact. Vietnam was huge in my life, though like many other young men of my generation I didn't go. I had a deferment. I protested while other young men my age fought. I have always felt guilty about that. I think most of us ... the draft dodgers, the lucky ones with deferments ... came to feel that way, some sooner, some later. Over time, we came to admire those who answered what they felt to be the call ...more
Robert
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
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.
Anna
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Cameron
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, history
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.
Pat Dugan
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is how it really was and I know, because I was there with the author.
Sarah
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I read and reread when I was in high school. I'm finally tossing out my old nasty paperback copy, but I wanted to make sure I marked it here as read and awesome.
Omnipotent Dystopian Now
The BEST Vietnam fiction available. Fields of Fire is one of my favorite books.
Mike
Oct 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Run-of-the-mill police fiction.
rains
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, this is isn't Michael Herr or Tim O'Brien, but it's a pretty good Vietnam War novel as far as VW novels go. It has some bits of less-than-good writing that expose Webb's self-aware tinkering as a writer in the background, especially in the characters' backstories and the chapters that take place Stateside, but the in-country, combat, and "boonies" parts, like the book itself generally, are much better: exciting, engaging, dramatic, often funny. Excluding the somewhat forgettable and theref ...more
Peter
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
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
Splashconception
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again, one of those things where it was hard to choose between a 4 and 5 on the star ratings, of course the whole star things is abstract, compelling is the word I would use to describe this novel. One of those books I read in about four days because once I started it I couldn't put it down. The characters are complex and you get attached to them. Snake, Goodrich and Hodgekins are all great, Snake is probably my favorite, but all of the secondary characters are good too. The descriptions of thei ...more
Wendell H Howell
Very Believable

An historical novel that, because of the authors real world experience rings as non fiction. I was surprised at the grittiness, the realness of this very good book. I will read more of Jim Webb's writings.
John O. Teague
Enlightening. This was historical "fiction," but Mr. Webb fought in Vietnam, as a Marine, so I suspect there may be more history than fiction written. I had two combat tours in SEA, the first as a USAF combat controller in 1965 northern Laos, the second as a fighter pilot in 1968 Vietnam. My grunt tour was physically demanding, but nothing compared to what the Marines experienced.
Donna Lewis
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book, but extremely difficult to read. It very adequately takes the reader into Vietnam and describes the psychological make-up of a group of soldiers in the midst of extreme conditions. One by one they are killed or maimed fighting in unspeakable conditions in a war that was not winnable. Juxtaposed is the very few who re-enter a stateside situation filled with the apathetic, anti-war activists and draft dodgers. The book certainly adequately describes attitudes in the US durin ...more
Alan Russell
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keep your head down

Excellent insight into the mind of a Viet Nam soldier. The guys fighting for survival rather than glory. This is the war that had no respect for the returning veteran.
Steven Jr.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to James Webb as a political figure through several social media posts from friends and acquaintances of mine. I immediately liked what I saw: a presidential candidate who had no time for partisan nonsense, a very middle-of-the-road, staunchly pro-American candidate. When asked who his political enemies were, his verbatim answer was, "I'd have to say the enemy soldier who threw the grenade that wounded me, but he's not around right now to talk to," and he punctuated it with the ...more
Michael
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
Franz
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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