Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Allen - Webb, Part 2. I was introducted to Jim Webb well over 25 years ago by my father. I have faithfully read all his books and always browse through library book sales and used book stores looking for copies of his novels. I have quite a collection.

Someday, some smart producer will buy A Country Such as This and turn it into a miniseries, like then did with Herman Wouk's Winds of War. The book was nominated for both the Pulitzer and Pen/Faulkner awards [source]. It covers the period from 1951-1976 through the eyes of three Naval Acadamy grads who agree to reconvene in Annapolis in 25 years. Reading the book back then, I couldn't help but wonder if Webb saw himself more in Red Lescynski (the Navy Pilot and POW, who is entranced by the Orient) or Judd Smith (the Marine who ran for Congress). What is interesting is how the moveon crowd has flocked to Webb. Obviously, they have never read this book especially in the way it skewers their spiritual mother, Jane Fonda, who appears, thinly veiled, in the character of Dorothy Dingenfelder (third midshipman Joe Dingenfelder's wife).

There has been a lot of talk of turning Fields of Fire into a movie. This was Webb's first book and has been called the finest Vietnam novel by Tom Wolfe. Supposedly, Webb himself was going to finance and produce this movie, but he put it on the shelf so he could run for the Senate.

I'm not going to do a comprehensive review of Webb's books -- indeed, I haven't been very impressed with his latest output. Nevertheless, one other book deserves mention, Something to Die For belies anyone who might say Webb's opposition to Iraq is just a matter of political expediency. It's his view of how the insiders in DC can manipulate a country in fighting a needless war -- in the case of this book, it's a showdown in Eritrea (yes, a far cry from Iraq). In fact, there's one scene in the book that took my breath away. I had to put the book down and was in near shock for about 5 minutes.

Anyway, his books reflect the views of a pro-military hawk who would be the ideal to serve in a Ronald Reagan administration. Someone who would resign because Reagan wasn't standing up to the Democrats who wanted to leave the military weak. And definitely not the views of someone in the Tom Harkin - John Kerry mold. Which is why it is so puzzling to me that he is the nominee of the Democratic party.

Last, while I'm on the subject of Webb books, not to be overlooked is The Nightingale's Song by Robert Timberg which looks at five NA grads, John McCain, John Poindexter, Bud McFarlane, Jim Webb, and Oliver North. (I'd love to see a new addition of this reflecting changes in these men since the first edition).

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