Jim Webb

James Henry "Jim" Webb Jr. is an American politician and author. He has served as a United States Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Counsel for the United States House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and Marine Corps officer.
In the private sector he has been an Emmy Award winning journalist, a filmmaker, and the author of ten books. In addition, he taught literature at the United States Naval Academy and was a Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics. As a member of the Democratic Party, Webb announced on November 19, 2014, that he was forming an exploratory committee to evaluate a run for President of the United States in 2016. On July 2, 2015, he announced that he would be joining the race for the Democratic nomination for President, but stepped down from running in the primaries on October 20, 2015, stating that he was "not comfortable" and "unhappy" with many of the party's political positions.
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In this brilliantly received memoir, former senator James Webb has outdone himself. It is rare in America that one individual is recognized for the highest levels of combat valor, as a respected member of the literary and journalistic world, and as a blunt-spoken leader in national politics. In this extraordinary memoir, Webb writes vividly about the early years that shaped such a remarkable personal journey.

Webb’s mother grew up in the poverty-stricken cotton fields of East Arkansas. His father and lifetime hero was the first in many generations of Webbs, whose roots are in Appalachia, to finish high school. He flew bombers in World War II and cargo planes in the Berlin Airlift, graduated from college in middle age, and became an expert in the nation’s most advanced weaponry.

Webb’s account of his childhood is a tremendous American saga as the family endures the constant moves and challenges of the rarely examined post–World War II military, with a stern but emotionally invested father, a loving mother who had borne four children by the age of twenty-four, a granite-like grandmother who held the family together during his father’s frequent deployments, and a rich assortment of aunts, siblings, and cousins. Webb tells of his four years at Annapolis in a voice that is painfully honest but in the end triumphant.

His description of Vietnam’s most brutal battlefields breaks new literary ground. One of the most highly decorated combat Marines of that war, he is a respected expert on the history and conduct of the war. Webb’s novelist’s eyes and ears invest this work with remarkable power, whether he is describing the resiliency that grew from constant relocations during his childhood, the longing for his absent father, his poignant good-bye to his parents as he leaves for Vietnam, his role as a twenty-three-year-old lieutenant through months of constant combat, or his election to the Senate, where he was a leader on national defense, foreign policy, and economic fairness. This is a life that could happen only in America.
“In my opinion, the finest of the Vietnam novels.”—Tom Wolfe

Now featuring a new introduction by the author

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.

Praise for Fields of Fire

“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

“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
In his first work of nonfiction, bestselling novelist James Webb tells the epic story of the Scots-Irish, a people whose lives and worldview were dictated by resistance, conflict, and struggle, and who, in turn, profoundly influenced the social, political, and cultural landscape of America from its beginnings through the present day.

More than 27 million Americans today can trace their lineage to the Scots, whose bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England’s Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. Between 250,000 and 400,000 Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, traveling in groups of families and bringing with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, dislike of aristocracy and a military tradition, and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working class America, and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself.
Born Fighting is the first book to chronicle the full journey of this remarkable cultural group, and the profound, but unrecognized, role it has played in the shaping of America. Written with the storytelling verve that has earned his works such acclaim as “captivating . . . unforgettable” (the Wall Street Journal on Lost Soliders), Scots-Irishman James Webb, Vietnam combat veteran and former Naval Secretary, traces the history of his people, beginning nearly two thousand years ago at Hadrian’s Wall, when the nation of Scotland was formed north of the Wall through armed conflict in contrast to England’s formation to the south through commerce and trade. Webb recounts the Scots’ odyssey—their clashes with the English in Scotland and then in Ulster, their retreat from one war-ravaged land to another. Through engrossing chronicles of the challenges the Scots-Irish faced, Webb vividly portrays how they developed the qualities that helped settle the American frontier and define the American character.
Born Fighting shows that the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; they were the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army). It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music.
Both a distinguished work of cultural history and a human drama that speaks straight to the heart of contemporary America, Born Fighting reintroduces America to its most powerful, patriotic, and individualistic cultural group—one too often ignored or taken for granted.
Once in a great while there comes a novel of such emotional impact and acute insight that it forever changes the way a reader sees a nation or an era. Writing with an unerring sense of suspense and of history experienced firsthand, James Webb takes us on a myth-shattering cultural odyssey deep into the heart of contemporary Vietnam, with a riveting thriller that tells a love story — love for those who perished, for family and friends, and between a soldier and the land where he had always been ready to die.

Brandon Condley survived five years of combat as a U.S. Marine only to lose the woman he loved to an enemy assassin. Now he is back in Vietnam, working to recover the remains of unknown American soldiers. On a routine mission, Condley finds a body that doesn’t match its dog tags — a body that propels him into a vortex of violence and intrigue where past and present become one.

As the mystery of the dead man unravels, a link is revealed to two well-known killers: “Salt and Pepper,” a pair of treasonous Americans who led a deadly Viet Cong ambush against Condley’s own men. Galvanized by a fresh trail to these long-lost deserters, Condley has finally found a purpose: Under the auspices of his government job, he is going to hunt down the traitors. On his own, he is going to kill them.

Condley’s hunt cannot be kept secret from his former enemies, or his friends. And in the shadows that linger from Vietnam’s long season of darkness and terror, he has no way of knowing which side is more dangerous.

Surrounding him is an unforgettable cast of characters: Dzung, Condley’s closest friend, a South Vietnamese war hero who might have led his country if his side had won the war, now reduced to driving a cyclo as his family starves in Saigon’s District Four. Colonel Pham, a battle-hardened Viet Cong soldier who lost three children to American bombs. Manh, a cutthroat Interior Ministry official who blackmails Dzung into a mission of murder. The Russian soldier Anatolie Petrushinsky, who left his soul in Vietnam as his empire collapsed around him. And the beautiful Van, Colonel Pham’s daughter, who spurns the scars of war as she pursues her dreams of freedom.

As Condley stalks his elusive prey across old battlefields and throughout Eurasia, returning always to the brooding streets of Saigon, his mission — and the odds of his surviving it — grow more precarious with each step he takes toward the truth.

Lost Soldiers captures the Vietnam of past and present — its beauty and squalor, its politics and people. Propelled by a page-turning mystery, shot through with adventure and intrigue, it irrevocably transforms our view of that haunted land and brings us as complete an understanding as we will ever have of what happened after the war — and why. No writer today is more qualified to take us into that world than James Webb.


From the Hardcover edition.
“I’m the only person in the history of Virginia elected to statewide office with a Union card, two Purple Hearts, and three tattoos."

Jim Webb—the bestselling author and now the celebrated, outspoken U.S. Senator from Virginia—presents a clear-eyed, hard-hitting plan of attack for putting government to work for the people, rather than special interests, and for restoring the country's standing around the world.

Infused with the intelligence, force, and firebrand style that has earned Senator Jim Webb enormous national attention from his earlest days in office, A Time to Fight offers a thorough and provocative assessment of the thorniest issues Americans face today, along with cogent solutions drawn from Webb's lifetime of experience as a much-decorated Marine, a widely traveled, award-winning journalist and novelist, a highly placed member of the Reagan administration, a Senator with a son who fought as a Marine in Iraq and, perhaps most important, a proud scion of America's vast but frequently ignored working class.

Webb exposes how America has entered a dangerous, unprecedented cycle of seemingly unsolvable unknowns. Our economic policies, particularly in this age of globalization, have produced widely divergent results leading to a country calcifying along class lines. Our demographic makeup has been altered dramatically and is set to keep on changing, through both legal and illegal immigration. Our editorialists and politicians talk about the American dream, and some urge us to bring democracy to the rest of the world. But more than two million Americans are now in prison, by far the highest incarceration rate in the so-called advanced world. Our foreign policy is confused, without clear direction; increasingly vulnerable to such largely unexamined long-term threats as China's emerging power while it has become bogged down in the never-ending struggles of the Middle East. As this drift toward societal regression has taken place, America's leadership has largely been paralyzed, unable or unwilling to stop the slide. "Where are the leaders?" Webb asks. "Has our political process become so compromised by powerful interest groups and the threat of character assassination that even the best among us will not dare to speak honestly about the solutions that might bring us back to common sense and fundamental fairness?"

Through vivid personal narratives of the struggles members of his family faced, and citing the courageous actions of presidents ranging from Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower, A Time to Fight provides specific, viable ideas for restoring fairness to our economic system, correcting the direction of national security efforts, ending America's military occupation of Iraq, and developing greater government accountability. Webb brings a fresh perspective to political dynamics that have shaped our country. His stirring, populist manifesto calls upon voters to make the choices that will change America for the better in this election season.
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