A Country Such as This (1983)
The innocence the 1950s and turbulence of the 1960s and 70s–years when America reached out and touched the heavens, only to be torn apart by internal conflict and a war in Southeast Asia–provide a dramatic setting for this unforgettable story of three men and the women they love carving a place for themselves in a society where the rules keep changing. Written by bestselling novelist James Webb, it has been hailed as a major work of our time and a stunning commentary of political and social life in America over nearly three decades. From the wars in Korea and Vietnam to antiwar protests in Washington and POW camps in Hanoi, from young love and parenthood to divorce and reconciliation, Webb’s eye for detail, provocative insights, and subtle revelations have earned him the highest literary accolades. His convincing characters and gripping scenes fully engage the reader as the three Naval Academy graduates reevaluate their lives, their country, and the cost of success.
The Wall Street Journal: “A Country Such as This deserves the highest literary accolades. It is a major work of our time.”
The New York Times: “Compelling … distinguished by energy and raw power … passionate commitment and historical sweep.”
The Nashville Banner: “A stunning summary of political and social life in America.”
The Denver Post: “Webb is a skilled and gifted novelist. He has the right instincts for creating interesting characters, personal and interpersonal conflicts, gripping scenes, ironic twists, provocative insights, and subtle revelations. Most importantly, perhaps, he has the ability to rouse the reader’s emotions. His people are real, convincing in their pain, their joy, their beliefs, backgrounds and bedevilments.”
The Dallas Morning News: “More than a novel. Webb’s vast research and eye for detail his historical saga ring true.”
Webb’s Timeless Classic
“A Country Such As This” is a timeless classic that chronicles the enormous social, economic and political upheavals that roiled America throughout the 1960s and 1970s. James Webb, a foremost author, Vietnam combat veteran and future Secretary of the Navy, presents a moving and incisive allegory in the life experiences of three 1951 U.S. Naval Academy graduates. Red Lescynski, Judd Smith and Joe Dingenfelder are “blood brothers” who swear an oath of allegiance to their country and each other. But their lives are destined to be sundered by the epochal changes sweeping the country: economic dislocation, an epidemic of divorce and fractured families and, most of all, societal and political divisions wrought by U.S. policy in Vietnam. Particularly insightful is the ongoing dialogue between Smith, a conservative Republican, and the ultra-liberal Dorothy Dingenfelder (Joe’s estranged wife), who clash repeatedly and vociferously. Red Lesczynski’s brutal plight in North Vietnam POW camps are heart rending, as are his difficulties assimilating into a fundamentally changed American society after a seven-year absence. Webb’s descriptions of the opprobrious conduct of the anti-war movement are priceless.
We are fortunate that 18 years after its initial publication, the U.S. Navy’s publishing arm has re-published “A Country Such As This,” enabling a new generation of Americans to benefit from Webb’s sage wisdom.
When did America change?
Although this book is nearly 20 years old, its story, that of the transformation of America across the critical years of 1951 to 1976, is a must read for anyone of my generation (I was born in 1971) seeking to understand the recent history of our country beyond the cold facts of a textbook. It is a story of America upon which even modern documentaries hardly touch. Mr. Webb’s narrative reminds us of our fathers’ sacrifices. He reminds us that, despite the social climate of the volatile years of the Vietnam War in particular, there were men and women who were neither ashamed of their country nor unwilling to stand up for it. It is in that light that the greatest message of the book comes forth. He reminds us that, despite the aberrant behavior of the counter-culture and ranting and demonstrative noise of the anti-war demonstrators (both of which, in this presidential election year, will finally make their departure from the Washington), there were people who were willing to do what their country asked of them…because it was the right thing to do. Though fiction, ACSAT very much speaks to us from the reality that were the service families and proud Americans of the post-war generations. The story is gripping in itself, and the time it encompasses makes it a delight for any student of history to read.
A Brilliant Epic Saga of the Turbulent Years of Our Century
One of the most brilliant epic sagas ever to come out in recent years by someone who lived through these turbulent years. I must say that it neatly lays out some of the key events within the period 1951-76 using authentic characters that come alive with each crisp dialogue, paragraph and page. Mr. Webb certainly has a knack for keen observation of life both ordinary and extraodinary, thereby, making the novel more believable.