Allen angry about “Lost Soldiers.”

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Webb has a hell of a resume. One recurring theme in his life’s work is writing. He’s written six best-selling novels and a single non-fiction work, worked around the globe as a journalist, and, astoundingly, he’s won an Emmy for his coverage of the Marines in Beirut for PBS.

James Webb

I have to confess that I’ve never read more a few pages of Webb’s work. I’ve read a half dozen of his articles and the opening bit of “Born Fighting,” his lone non-fiction novel. My assumption was that he was a Dick Marcinko kind of a writer — strong on plot, weak on actual writing skills. So I was understandably shocked when I attended the recent reading at The Paramount, at which Webb, Stephen King, and John Grisham all read from their work. I’ve enjoyed the work of both King and Grisham, and consider them excellent commercial writers (to use their term). To be honest, I was a bit nervous about Webb reading, since it was inevitable that he would be upstaged by King and Grisham. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jim Webb’s writing was considerably better than either of his stagemates that evening. The audience was clearly very impressed, and I was delighted to have been so wrong.

Lost Soldiers

The thread running through Webb’s novels is, of course, the Vietnam War. He has incorporated within them his own experiences as a soldier, the knowledge that he’s gained of Vietnam’s cultures in his visits there since, and all that he’s learned about the changing face of the military in his work as a journalist throughout his life. To make an obvious but necessary point, serving in Vietnam was a terrible, life-changing, central experience for every American soldier who did a tour there. They witnessed — Jim Webb witnessed — horrible things that are difficult for civilians like me to understand. Webb’s ability to synthesize the worst of the Vietnam War with the acts of tender humanity and the bizarre (to us) cultural practices of the Vietnamese with the routine heroism of American soldiers is what has made him such a successful, well-respected novelist and journalist.

Jim Webb’s opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Sen. George Allen, has recently discovered Webb’s books. Allen is really quite upset by something described in Webb’s 2001 book, “Lost Soldiers.” It’s this bit:

A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from the little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside-down, and put the boy’s penis in his mouth.

This practice, found in rural areas of Cambodia, does not sit well with Sen. Allen. No doubt it’s unsettling to most westerners. We kiss people to indicate affection. In rural Cambodia, parents put young children’s penises in their mouths to indicate affection. (I get all skeeved out just writing that.) A Cambodian mother is Las Vegas is being prosecuted for doing just this to her son, and the Cambodian Association of America is attempting to explain to authorities that there’s simply nothing sexual about the act. Webb’s description of this in his novel illustrates how stark the divide can be between east and west and how very strong that culture shock can be. Allen’s anger is understandable.

But I’ve left out a detail. Allen’s not angry about the act. He’s angry that Jim Webb wrote about it. Allen believes that merely acknowledging the existence of this practice makes Webb unfit to hold office, because that implicitly means that Webb endorses it.

I’m left near speechless by this logic. It’s a parody of political correctness, a caricature of an uptight nanny-state.

If we ignore that which we find abhorrent, will it go away?

If Sen. Allen mentions rape, murder, Nancy Pelosi or homosexuality, does that means that he supports it?

Does Sen. Allen believe that every reporter endorses every topic and position that they have ever written about?

I cannot believe that Allen believes what he’s saying. I can only conclude that, having seen that he’s tied with Webb just a week and a half prior to the election, this is the best that he’s got. It’s come down to the wire, and the best case that he can make that he’s a better candidate than Jim Webb is that Webb has written about something icky.

Republicans understand how abhorrent that Allen’s desperate path is. Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse and Michelle Malkin (of all people) have both weighed in against Allen’s gambit in strong terms, and I expect to see more.

Virginia voters will, I expect, react similarly. I’m reminded of Jerry Kilgore’s “Hitler” ad. The television ad was so strong, the accusation so alarming, that voters were forced to make a choice. Who did they believe: Jerry Kilgore or Tim Kaine?. Kilgore seemed just weaselly and untrustworthy enough, and Kaine just honest enough, that they picked Tim Kaine. Likewise this accusation is so strong, so alarming, that voters will again have to choose. Who do Virginia voters trust more? George Allen, or Jim Webb?

That’s a gamble I’m very, very happy to make.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

40 replies on “Allen angry about “Lost Soldiers.””

  1. For those of us who tend to think in language of lampooning and satire, this ploy by the Allen forces to tar Webb as a pornographer boggles the mind. How do you get more absurd than their ploy? In order to make a joke out of these lowbrow charges, how can we get sillier?

    Perhaps that riddle points to the hidden strategy behind this book-burning-like crusade. Stung by the Foley scandal, scared by the most recent polls, Republicans have decided to outflank the satirists.

  2. The only sort of satire that remains isn’t even really satire, because it’s on the same level as these bizarre accusations.

    Remember when there was a whole hullabaloo about airing “Saving Private Ryan” on TV because the FCC might freak out? It seems to me that not only must Allen believe that it shouldn’t have been aired, but must surely decry Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Vin Diesel as being Nazis because they created a movie that portrays Nazis.

    He must feel likewise about Ronald Reagan’s apparent endorsement of North Korean victory in the Korean War and of communism, since Reagan was played Webb Sloane in “Prisoner of War.”

    And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here and let George Allen call President Reagan a communist.

    Phew. I did get some satire out of this after all.

  3. This is absolutely going to make my head exploded. I am a Democratic activist but I have never considered my self overtly partisan, in the way that you consider the other side the spawn of the devil. I come from a Republican family

    But the way this modern GOP is behaving this election cycle is certainly making my blood boil. Do these people have no honor? Is there any race baiting, innuendo, distortion or out right fabrication that they will not employ in their desperate, pitiful, desperate attempt to keep their claws on the “power”.

    If we win this year it will be the sweetest of all victories just to know that these slime balls got what was coming to them.

  4. The great irony is that the behavior exhibited by Allen is the narrative of all of Webb’s writing. He returned home from Vietnam, after his injuries prevented him from serving further, and attended Georgetown. For the first time in his life he was surrounded by smug intellectual liberals and he hated them all. They thought they were superior to him because they decried the horrors of the Vietnam War while avoiding actually participating in it. In book after book he has these characters, people who think they’re so above veterans because they stayed above the fray, while veterans had participated in it.

    Sen. George Allen, the Republican in this race, has suddenly become exactly like the liberals that drove Webb into the arms of the Republican Party in the early 1970s. Allen thinks that because Jim Webb saw and wrote about prostitutes and this weird rural Cambodian penis thing that Allen wins. Allen thinks he’s better than Jim Webb because of what Webb did for America in Vietnam.

    On the one hand, I find it infuriating that Allen could be so smugly condescending and dismissive of Webb’s experience in Vietnam. On the other hand, I find it tremendously promising for the Democratic Party that George Allen represents the Republican Party. If this is what they intend to treat veterans then the Democratic Party is facing an even brighter future than I’d thought.

  5. Why is it when you google Jim Webb, all the headlines are from conservative news sites and blogs?

    Another frustration of mine is that the Webb camp is not coming up with a more succinct defense and counter attack. Blaming this on Rove doesnt get you anywhere. That is a wasted sentance that you could have filled with substance.

  6. Waldo your 5:51 could actually be part of that responses boiled down to a sentence or two.

  7. The problem is that these ads are airing right about the time that over half of the voting population is starting to pay attention and take notice that there even is an election.

    People like us; (bloggers and such) are fairly well versed and educated about the issues the candidates etc. But stop the average person in the middle of the grocery store next Thursday and ask them if they know who Jim Webb is. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that a lot of them will say, “oh, isn’t’ he the man who writes those dirty books”.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m worried. Very worried.

  8. Here’s the thing that no one has latched onto yet… Webb admitting to on live radio that he watched this happen

    “Among the excerpts is a scene from the 2002 novel “Lost Soldiers,” in which a man embraces his four-year-old son and places the boy’s penis in his mouth.””It’s not a sexual act,” Webb told Plotkin regarding the “Lost Soldiers” excerpt. “I actually saw this happen in a slum in Bangkok when I was there as a journalist.””

    Read the whole story on

    HE WATCHED THIS HAPPEN!!!!! WTF… IS HE JIMMY SWAGGART!!!!! He likes to watch…. Jimmy is a little pervert!!! Didnt Pete Townsend say he was acting as a journalist in going to child porn sites and having child porn on his computer.

    I dont care what Webb writes but the fact is I do not want any man who has watched this or things of this kind of freaky crap being a US Senator. He doesnt represent Virginian values at all!

  9. I dont care what Webb writes but the fact is I do not want any man who has watched this or things of this kind of freaky crap being a US Senator.

    That’s your rule? Nobody who has ever witnessed “freaky crap” can be a U.S. Senator? Like millions of Americans, I watched the twin towers come down. That was, indeed, some freaky shit. It was much freakier shit than what Webb saw. Are we all barred from serving? I guarantee you that every veteran of war has seen some pretty freaky shit. Does your rule bar any veteran from serving in public office? Or just U.S. Senate?

    What do you suggest that he should have done in his capacity as a journalist? Hidden his eyes? Run away? At what point should he have known what was coming? If you saw a father pick up his little kid, who had been scampering around naked, and flip him upside down playfully, would that have been your cue to think “oh, shit, this dude’s gonna put his kid’s pecker in his mouth?” Because — I’ve got to tell you — that wouldn’t be my guess for what was coming next. If you would have guessed what was next, that tells me that you’re either a) Cambodian or b) pretty fucked up.

  10. I dont care what he was thinking at the time… We cant help what we see true… but the put it in a novel and make money on it… I’m not saying freaky as in bad… I’m talking freaky as in PERVERSE. He may not have known what was coming in Bangkok (Thought I doubt that… ) but he damn sure could help writing about it in a book!

  11. It’s not sexual? It’s what then? What a stupid thing for Webb to say.

    I am disappointed that Allen released this disgusting stuff. But it does give me pause. Do I want this man, Webb, representing me in the Senate? I think not.

  12. Well lets see last time I checked … Journalists write for newspapers… they dont publish fiction… well unless they work for the Virginian Pilot…

  13. It’s not sexual? It’s what then? What a stupid thing for Webb to say.

    Susan, if you bothered to listened to the whole interview, you’d realise that his defense was that he saw this act take place in front of about a hundred people and that it was in no way a sexual act (ie, done for enjoyment.) It is indeed a ritual in some parts of the world, as the following scientific article demonstrates:

    “The fact that a son is bound up with significant symbolic meaning, is inseparable from a local recognition of a boy’s body in biological terms, that is to say, his genitals (i.e. the Phallus). In Thinh Tri, the body of a little boy is generally a matter of common interest and concern. For example, a little boy is usually fondly called a thang cu, which means ‘penis boy’ (lit. male penis). The genitals of small Thinh Tri boys receive a great deal of attention by being commented on, joked about, or even grasped. The local ways in which boys’ genitals are paid attention to are in sharp contrast to the fact that girls’ genitals do not receive any special attention. The widespread concern in Thinh Tri with respect to boys’ genitals is related to the symbolism of blood, which does not mean the same with regard to females and males. Despite blood being acknowledged as a ‘vital life force’ (khi huyet) of both the female and male body, it is basically perceived of as a female energy. Its complementary male vital life force is ‘semen’ (khi), which is said to be the substance of male energy. This energy is thought to guarantee the continuation of the blood of a male’s patrilineage. Due to such assumptions about blood, a boy’s genitals—and by extension, his body—are always already inscribed with the collected morality (dao duc), honor (danh du), and ‘obligations’ (nghia) of his past generations. Boys’ bodies have accumulated body capital while girls’ bodies have not . Because a Thinh Tri boy’s body holds inborn morality, honor, and reputation due to his relation to his patrilineage, his body i.e. the Phallus) condenses the preconditions for practicing good male morality. His body symbolizes the future good morality, honor, and reputation of his patrilineage and the performance of certain patrilineal rituals”.


    ” a child’s body is construed as a powerful socio-symbolic and material sign that reflects local life in terms of hierarchies, positions, and power. Local understandings of female and male bodies crystallize the fact that a child’s body simultaneously is wrought socially (i.e. in terms of ‘gender’) and biologically (i.e. in terms of ‘sex’). In this way, both the notions of sex and gender have a history, which is constructed discursively. In other words, both notions address the same question, which is namely, how female and male bodies are rendered meaningful in time and space”.

    9.2.1 Verbal Indices

    Matters become more directly apparent in accompanying verbal reinforcements, directed to the baby/toddler or to audience. Only a selection of descriptions provide such accompanying commentaries:

    The Vietnamese case being mentioned; Ordos Mongols: ” commonly touch the child’s genitals and caress them, saying at the same time: “Give me this” “; Okinawans: “Old women like to tweak a little boy’s penis and jokingly say. “What is that, what is that?”; Balinese: “With the slight titillation go the repeated words: “Handsome, handsome, handsome”, an adjective applied only to males. The little girl’s vulva is patted gently, with the accompanying feminine adjective “Pretty, pretty, pretty” “; Borneo: “Mothers often hold infant boys aloft in the course of singing magical growth songs, blowing softly on the penis, while noting aloud sexual powers to come at maturity”; Sarawak: “Not infrequently, when brother’s or sister’s young child visits Ego, the latter will “make glad over him” (begaga ka ia) with the words, Jaum aku, ulun aku (“My captive, my slave”)” ; Aritama: “Adults make joking remarks about the future virility of the baby, about the size of his penis, and about his reactions to such caresses”; Martinique: “Men fondle the penises of little boys, remarking publicly on their size and potential, impressing on the children expectations of their masculinity”; Puerto Rico: ” adults and older brothers and sisters are likely to tease and play with his genitals, kissing them and remarking on their size, commenting that he is a machito (real little male) or a machote (real he-man)”; ” parents and friends may play with the boy’s genitals until he is around seven years old”; “parents would pull a two-year-old’s penis, and inquire for its function. The answer would be, “For the women!”; “A two-year-old boy will be asked, “What is it for?” while an adult pulls at his penis; and sometimes the child will answer, “For women”. Such a child is called malo (bad) or even malcria’o (badly brought up), but actually the terms are used with some measure of approval”; “As soon as they started talking, they asked them questions about their penis, for whom it was and for what it was needed. They answered it was for the chacha or the girl friend, or to playa trick on the girl friend. If they had an erection, they were praised and the parents would celebrate it by telling them they had joined the masculine race”. Morocco: ” affectionate genital contact some women extend when they greet or communicate with an infant”; “Little sisters, aunts, maids, and mothers often attract the little boy’s attention to his htewta and try to teach him to pronounce the word, which is quite a task given the gutteral initial letter h. One of the common games played by adult females with a male child is to get him to understand the connection between sidi (master) and the htwta. Hada sidhum (“This is their master”), say the women, pointing to the child’s penis. The kissing of the child’s penis is a normal gesture for a female relative who has not seen him since his birth. Tbarkallah ‘ala-r-Rajal (“God protect the man”), she may whisper”; Turkey: ” grandparents and parents fondled their genitals and repeated: “You are male, you are male” “. Olson-Prather noted that a teenage neighbour girl of the elite class expressed verbal but not physical admiration; “In Egypt the mother may attempt to prepare her son gradually for the circumcision operation by “caressing his organ and playfully endeavoring to separate the foreskin from the glans. While doing this she would hum words to the effect that what she is doing will help to make him become a man amongst men”; Eskimo children would copy the practice “to caricature the physical raptures of their parents with cries of “It’s wonderful!” “.

  14. Okay, I think we need to arrive at some sort of consensus that Lee Talley is a moron. It’s obvious, after reading only this brief passage, that Webb’s style is journalistic. His narrator is witness to something, and we aren’t told in this passage whether or not he approves. (Turns out that this “act” is common in Cambodia and isn’t considered sexual. Who knew?) And yes, Lee, journalists sometimes write works of fiction.

    To argue that writers should never “make money” by putting into print actions that may be considered perverse or immoral is to argue broadly for censorship. Beyond that, we have writers (and TV, movie, and record producers) filling popular media with physical and sexual violence, with torture and murder, with disfigurement and degradation. Surely, the incident Webbb chronicled is less “perverse” than America’s history of slavery. Yet, thousands of our writers have “made money” from books that depict American life during slavery–many of them, like “Gone with the Wind,” romanticizing that time.

    So if I can get a voice vote: All those who think Lee Talley is a moron? Those opposed?

  15. I was beginning to worry that my results predictions for the senate race would be off because it was starting to look like Allen’s campaign managers had successfully shut him up in time to avoid a third major gaffe in the campaign… Now it looks like the gaffe slipped out not despite their keeping George quiet; but right through the campaign itself…

    Could this be the expected campaign gaffe we all predicted?

    Dem, Lee may or may not be a moron; but we surely do not know enough here to make a call. Lee is certainly typical of most provincial Americans who have never travelled and cannot imagine that people might do things differently in other cultures. Ignorant yes, but a moron? Not enough data to make a call. The beauty with ignorance is that it can be corrected, provided the ignorant person is still willing to learn.

  16. Susan and Lee Talley are obviously morons.

    In his fiction and books Jim Webb is explaining to us who did not experience his war in Asia, the environment that has infused his whole post-war life. It is traumatic it is intense and most of all it is ALIEN. If you all, support the troops, IN SLOGAN ONLY, can not handle this I do not know what to say to you . . . do not read any of the autobiographies or memoirs about the Vietnam war, because are going to have an even larger shock. And for god’s sake do not read any of the autobiographies about Desert Storm or the current Iraq war, because you might go into toxic shop. But then I suppose you would be cool with denigrating those veterans as well.

    Waldo’s point about Webb writing “Field’s of Fire” stands. He wrote it because he was sick of the snobbery of the people who did not HAVE TO FIGHT, but still had their high and mighty condemnation.

    GET IT?

  17. I have to say, that Webb is completely right, and Allen’s critics are completely right.
    But have you all googled this or listened to the coverage of this: ALLEN IS WINNING THE HEADLINE WAR!!!

    His frame is dominating the news coverage of this. NPR was absolutely awful this morning! The headlines when you google this is awful.

    Webb responded to this in the completely wrong manor.

    He should have never said this is just fiction, because the response to that is, “ok well what kind of sicko makes this sort of stuff up”

    He should have said that yes this is fiction, but it is based on things that actually happened to me in a traumatic and life altering war. Now I know that this might shock Allen BECAUSE HE HAS NEVER EXPERANCED WAR HE NEVER GAVE UP HIS PAMPERED LIFE STYLE IN CALIFONIA to go fight in the Jungles of Asia. But I did I have had to deal with it my whole life. John McCain has indorsed my novels; George Will has indorsed my novels, ect, ect.


  18. Regarding “Man, Cambodia sounds weird”

    This is just the point! Our world is full of diverse cultures and belief systems. As differing worlds merge we MUST accept the fact that understanding our difference can save us from disaster. Learning about differences is imperative. Reading fiction and non-fiction, traveling and meeting members of other cultures, helps us keep our head out of the sand and out of wars. Just think, a lot of the Muslim world is completely outraged by us, our BAY WATCH television shows, our immodesty in dress. All this hatred for misunderstood cultrual differences is dangerous. We have to understand that we are doomed if we allow and promote ignorance and pompousness by calling another culture’s norms “perverted” or “disgusting”.
    I am grateful to all those writers who help me expand my understanding of our increasingly shrinking globe. Jim Webb’s understanding of cultural differences is sorely needed in leadership, here, there and everywhere.

  19. It occurs to me that while I’ve seen this excerpt in its broader context, I didn’t provide that context here. Look that the paragraph that follows:

    “Why did he kiss the little boy’s penis?” wondered Dzung. “I do not know,” said Manh. And then he shook his head, amazed at Dzung’s serenity.

    The very point is that it was a strange and baffling thing, leaving even the main characters wondering WTF was going on.

  20. Well well well… Thats what it comes down to… Just call me a moron. Wow and I thought name calling went out in elementary school…

  21. Well I’m not trying to take anything out to any degree… my question is simple… out of everything to discribe an environment as alien. Why does he have to go there? His choice is odd and disturbing to me. That is the point I’m really trying to get accross.

  22. Lee and Susan – if you seriously consider this passage to be anything other than a description of something simply observed by a person in another country (not all cultures do the same things as we do, you know, or maybe you choose to ignore that little piece of reality, too), then you clearly already drank the Kool Aid.

    Again, if all Allen can come up with is this waste of time (ie, to distract people from the issues that he said he wanted to run his race on – so much for that), you need to take a closer look at your candidate rather than just toe the party/campaign line. Seriously.


    It appears Cambodia is a NAMBLA members dream.

    Waldo, I have to diverge from my normal support of your positions. If Webb’s work were journalism and he was reporting on cultural values in a true journalistic piece, some of you might have a point.

    He was writing fiction and included some shocking things which I’m sure were well considered during the editorial process.

    To be fair, I have not read the book “Lost Soldiers” but intend to before election day to determine the context. I know the sensationalist mentality of both publishing and hollywood all too well. There are no accidents. Did mention of the act come with some cultural explanation or context or was it gratuitous?

    Taking a hard line ” well some small contingent of the cambodian population thinks this is okay so its not a big deal” simply does not suffice. The netherlands has a small contingent of males who believe that it should be legal to express their “love” towards boys by putting their genitals in their mouth too. It makes it no less criminal, because children can not provide consent.

    Webb has a poor history around lots of issues important to me, there is no way to get around it. This of course is not an endorsement of Allen. By far. I think they’re both poor candidates.

  24. I’ve been reading this thread, and I’m just flummoxed. There seems to be a wildly swinging set of opinions – everything from “this is disgusting – Webb is endorsing pedophilia” to “it’s cultural, get over it or you are showing yourself to be an inbred, xenophobic moron.” Granted, those are all my words, but that’s the feeling I’m getting. Let’s back up a minute.

    The act that Webb put in his book is one that exists in some cultures. Indeed, he has witnessed it (and for him to have turned away or closed his eyes or otherwise avoided witnessing it would have been a most unnatural thing to do for a journalist or any other fascinated specatator in Bangkok – come on, Lee!) However, I think we can all agree that this act of placing a child’s penis in one’s mouth is NOT normal here, and would be considered perverse in OUR society.

    Webb wrote his book for our society. So, did he place this act in the book to be sensationalist and to shock his readers? Did he do it to sell more books? If so, is he condoning this act? Is he condoning it within a cultural context, ie. only in Cambodia, or among Cambodians? Or is he condoning it for everyone? Is he a pervert? Lordy, look where this is all headed. Someone, please do a break-down on the moral standing of Stephen King based on his writings. Or on any actor based on ANY of his movies (shall we start with Governor Arnold? I mean, Conan? What did THOSE movies say about women?) I don’t think we can draw ANYTHING conclusive about Webb himself from the things that he wrote in the context of a fictional story.

    Now, let’s compare that to the actions of a man who is in the spotlight who chooses to point out and humiliate another person. This person already stands out in this crowd because of his race, but this man in the spotlight makes sure to draw attention to this person and say rude, condescending things to him, including using a word that is considered a racial slur in many parts of the world. This isn’t fiction, this HAPPENED. This wasn’t written 5 years ago when the man was trying to make a living as a novelist. This happened a few MONTHS ago when the man was trying to sell himself as a public servant.

    Perversion in reality or in fiction – it’s a no-brainer to me which is worse. Webb wins my vote, and I might even buy a book of his. After all, I made sure to watch a movie of Reagan’s after he won…

  25. Taking a hard line “well some small contingent of the cambodian population thinks this is okay so its not a big deal” simply does not suffice.

    I don’t think anybody’s arguing that the act is “okay” but, rather, that the fact that Jim Webb acknowledged the existence of the act should not be problematic for anybody. You of all people should appreciate the importance of more people being aware of the way that society mistreats children, whether delivered through fiction or nonfiction.

  26. This will win the election for Webb:

    Here is what the UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS thinks of James Webb’s supposedly pornographic novels:

    Fields of Fire
    The Classic Novel of the Vietnam War
    Written By Webb, James

    Bantam Books, New York, NY © 1979
    360 Pages

    James Webb. a well-known Marine Corps Navy Cross recipient in Vietname and former Secretary of the Navy, conveys the experience of combat with rare lucidity through fiction. In fact, Fields of Fire is less fictional than most realize. It is the Vietnam War as the author lived it, and the reader sees and feels it through the eyes of the book’s main character, a platoon commander in Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.

    The novel is about the reality of war that Marines must come to grips with today as we prepare for the future. Fields of Fire is the story of the young, enlisted Marines who fought under then Lieutenant Webb. The reader should note carefully their emotions, motivations, courage, and fears for they are the men who have served us best in every war. Their social backgrounds vary, and many of our best warriors came from the lowliest of stations. In terms of the brotherhood of those who bleed together and the nobility of sacrifices made for friends, the characters in Webb’s novel are timeless. He succeeds brilliantly in making them real. Webb creates a doctrine of combat leadership and a creed for the succeeding generation on how and why Marines fight.

  27. You of all people should appreciate the importance of more people being aware of the way that society mistreats children, whether delivered through fiction or nonfiction.

    Jim Webbs’ inclusion of the act was an attempt to educate people about the maltreatment of children?

  28. Jim Webbs’ inclusion of the act was an attempt to educate people about the maltreatment of children?

    I can’t speak for his intent, but I can for the effect — that’s precisely what’s happened. Were you ever aware of this practice? I certainly wasn’t, and I’m certainly that millions of Americans also weren’t.

    The acknowledgment of something unpleasant is not the same as supporting it. In the case of unpleasant things that are little-known, it shines a light upon those things so that justice can be brought about.

    The notion that reporting fact within the framework of fiction is somehow less influential, valuable, or noble than within the framework of journalism is counter to the entire literary establishment. Is “The Lorax” a less valuable environmental lesson to children because the Lorax did not exist and he did not, in fact, speak for the trees? Was “Lolita” a lesser work than a documentary because it described the fictional exploitation of a child in a sort of relationship that has no doubt existed in reality? Or was it better for that? Do you fault John Irving for his look at the impact that adultery has on a family in “The World According to Garp,” or believe that he’s simply describing how these things really happen such that others may understand? Did E.L. Doctorow’s portrayal of real famous figures in the 1920s suffer because they were within the framework of the fictional “Ragtime”?

    You know the answer to these questions, Camille. The fact is that “Lost Soldiers” is regarded as one of the finest novels of its genre ever written. It’s no more exploitative of children than it is of soldiers.

  29. The acknowledgment of something unpleasant is not the same as supporting it. In the case of unpleasant things that are little-known, it shines a light upon those things so that justice can be brought about.

    Oh and what justice has been carried out because of this great work of fiction! Here here! Applause Applause. The act of putting small children’s penis’s in their Cambodian mouths was banished because of the great Jim Webb.

    Yes, we need only thank him now.

    Be careful Waldo, you believe Webb’s own publicity as much as he does.

  30. So the problem, then, is not fiction, but the fact that no change has come of it? Adultery has not decreased after “Garp.” If there’s been any reduction in deforestation post-“Lorax,” I’m not aware of it. Has pedophilia been reduced post-“Lolita”? Probably not. Yet all are valuable.

    Or is the problem, then, that the act in question had too minor of a role in the work? I’m not sure that you or anybody else would argue that.

  31. Lee Talley,

    Go back under the rock from which you came.

    You’re nothing but a rightarded, knuckledragging, mouth-breather.


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