Fields of Fire (1978)

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.



The Washington Post: “The great American war novels … would include Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, James Jones’ The Thin Red Line and James Webb’s Fields of Fire.”


Newsweek: “In swift, flexible prose that does everything he asks of it including a whiff of hilarious farce, just to show he can — Webb gives us an extraordinary range of acutely observed people, not one a stereotype, and as many different ways of looking at (the Vietnam) war. … FIELDS OF FIRE is a stunner.”


TIME Magazine: “Webb’s book has the unmistakable sound of truth acquired the hard way. His men hate the war; it is 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. Back in “the World” they would never again be so incandescently alive. The point is as old as Homer, of course, but Webb restates it with merciless precision.”


The Philadelphia Inquirer:   “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 élan. FIELDS OF FIRE is an antiwar book, yes, but not naively, dumbly anti-soldier or anti-American…. Webb pulls off all the scabs and looks directly, unflinchingly on the open wounds of the Sixties.”


The Naval War College Review: “The sound and smell of combat permeates FIELDS OF FIRE with a completeness that is extraordinary and a realism that is almost eerie. … at the end the reader is disappointed only because there is no more good reading. … While the reviewer has not read all of the books about Vietnam, he has read most of them. FIELDS OF FIRE is unquestionably the best. The rest aren’t even close.”


Soldier of Fortune Magazine: “If a grateful government wished to extend a meaningful GI benefit to the infantrymen who fought in Vietnam, it could simply send each a copy of FIELDS OF FIRE. They would then know that their suffering, courage and seemingly limitless endurance will be forever recorded. James Webb has immortalized them. …certainly a classic war novel, among the best of the past 35 years.”


Best Sellers: “This is not a war novel about Vietnam but rather a people novel about people fighting in Vietnam. … The selling point of this work is the characters. As a non-lover of war novels, this reviewer recommends the reading of FIELDS OF FIRE.”


The Houston Post: “Webb’s style has the primitive power of a James Jones, … but few writers since (Stephen) Crane have portrayed men at war with such a ring of steely truth..”


Burton Frye Previews: “…it zooms in and out with the vast ability of a motion picture camera. New novelist Webb has more talent than Hemingway had.”


The Dallas Morning News: “It is time for the novel of the Vietnam soldier. This, I think, is it. … Webb has written it so powerfully that as you read, you wonder, where did that talent come from? … This book seems really to have come from that old cliché source, the heart. Webb means to make you know what it was like for a handful of Young Americans fighting for their lives… He means to make you know that they mattered. And he does.”


Texas Monthly: (William Broyles editorial): “A decade after the worst years of the Vietnam War, hundreds of books about it are in print (the best being FIELDS OF FIRE by James Webb).”


John J. McAleer (Personal correspondence): “FIELDS OF FIRE is unquestionably the finest war novel ever written. … Having done nine other books before UNIT PRIDE, all of them in the field of literary criticism or literary biography, I know a great book when I see one. And FIELDS OF FIRE is unmistakably a masterpiece.”