I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir [NOOK Book]


James Webb, author of Fields of Fire, the classic novel of the Vietnam War—former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat”—has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years, “a love story—love of family, love of country, love of service,” in his words.

Webb’s mother grew up in the poverty-stricken cotton fields of Eastern ...
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I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir

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James Webb, author of Fields of Fire, the classic novel of the Vietnam War—former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat”—has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years, “a love story—love of family, love of country, love of service,” in his words.

Webb’s mother grew up in the poverty-stricken cotton fields of Eastern Arkansas. His father and life-time hero was the first of many generations of Webbs, whose roots are in Appalachia, to finish high school. He flew bombers in World War II, 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 his stern but emotionally invested father, loving and resolute mother, a granite-like grandmother who held the family together during his father’s frequent deployments, and an assortment of invincible aunts, siblings, and cousins. His account of his four years at Annapolis are 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 goodbye to his parents as he leaves for Vietnam, his role as a 23-year-old lieutenant through months of constant combat, or his election to the Senate where he was known for his expertise in national defense, foreign policy, and economic fairness. This is a life that could only happen in America.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This memoir takes the author from his birth shortly after World War II to the present, and is a rumination on the changes that the world, the United States, and the military have endured in the interim. Webb (Fields of Fire) was a marine, a company commander in Vietnam, a committee counsel for the House, an assistant secretary of defense, and a democratic senator from Virginia. Webb is a clear and accessible writer who credits his history, and that of his family and forebears, with molding his convictions and guiding his career choices. Combat in Vietnam still dogs him, both mentally and physically. The contradictions and failures of that war informed his later writings and eventual political pursuits, and led him to oppose the Iraq war as "a bad place in a bad war." Concerned with the rising inequality and inequitable division of wealth in America today he tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce measures like taxing capital gains as ordinary income. VERDICT A convincing memoir filled with ideas by a man who might be called a contrarian in today's politics.—Edwin Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Wall Street Journal
“The sweep of this wonderful book makes it the alpha and omega of the Cold War’s truest children. It begins with pride and patriotism that comes from living with warrior fathers and ends with illusion dispelled by a bloody little war in Vietnam. It’s a brilliant personal recollection that also brings alive a forgotten period of American history.”
“Webb is a terrific writer, a great war novelist…a compelling book.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Webb writes not only of his life but also, of course, the forces and people who shaped him. He describes his memoir as “a love story — love of family, love of country, love of service” — and he supports those words with the candor and grace of this readable and revealing memoir.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
I Heard My Country Calling is emblematic of many other Americans’ life stories, reflecting a sense of honor and patriotism that thankfully knows no generational bounds.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
I Heard My Country Calling rings with unvarnished dictums . . . Without flinching, he tells us of the grisliness and heroism he witnessed as a Marine in Vietnam. . . . his narrative offers an inside, no-punches-held look at the life of a man to whom independence was more important than money or power. . . . riveting.”
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine
“A fascinating account of [Webb’s] early life. . . . anintensely personal narrative that traces his development from sometime-studentto Naval Academy Midshipman, Marine officer, novelist, and political figure. .. . Fellow military brats will take particular delight in his description oftaking to the road with an impatient father and three siblings jammed into an automobile’sback seat . . . Webb’s wonderfully written book is more than a personalaccount; it is the story of a patriotic American who “heard his country calling.”
Military Review
“Deeply moving . . . a delightful, mentally therapeutic, and engulfing book.”
Kirkus Reviews
Former Virginia senator Webb (A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America, 2008, etc.) employs hard lessons from his own life to explain his reasons for not seeking re-election in 2012.The author, who also served as the secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, initially parlayed his Marine experience in Vietnam into a first-class war novel, Fields of Fire (1978), among other thoughtful works. In this memoir, he sandwiches his life as a baby boomer military brat (born 1946) between scenes of his leaving the Capitol office, where he served as a one-term senator between 2006 and 2012. Refusing any longer to be part of "an institution with a 6 percent approval rating," he writes, he is nonetheless sadly cognizant of how distraught his own World War II veteran father, now deceased, would be for his son's walking away from what his father considered "the top of [his] game." Having moved around during his youth among a variety Air Force bases, largely under the care of his Arkansas-born mother and gritty, devoted grandmother, Webb had a spotty early education but was duly indoctrinated to patriotic values of hard work, physical toughness and self-reliance. Raised within a vigorous peacetime Army, Webb knew he was "born to be a soldier"—and what a solider he was, winning the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. From his acceptance to the Naval Academy's class of 1968 to his time in the Marine Corps and shipping out to Vietnam at the height of the war's unpopularity, Webb conveys the intensity of his training and single-minded pursuit. He has made peace with the "emotional tangle" of the war and is, overall, gracious toward his family and others humbly born and hard-striving who deserve a "system that guarantees true fairness."An eloquent military memoir in which the author seems to be grooming for his next move: What will it be?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476741161
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/20/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 61,384
  • File size: 45 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

James Webb, former senator from Virginia, has been a combat marine, a committee counsel in the Congress, an assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy, an Emmy Award–winning journalist, a filmmaker, and the author of ten books. Mr. Webb has six children and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Hong Le, who was born in Vietnam and is a graduate of Cornell Law School.
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Customer Reviews

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( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer


    Never give up story, easy read, amazing man.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2014

    Jim Webb has written another great book that belong alongside hi

    Jim Webb has written another great book that belong alongside his Born Fighting. This is the personal story of a father from Kentucky and a mother from Arkansas, Scots-Irish both, who emerged from the South and its poverty to serve their country as a military family. Webb pays fitting tribute to a challenging but loving father and a courageous and empathetic mother who raised him and his brother and sisters right while making remarkable sacrifices to serve the country they loved. Webb also tells the untold story of the change in the nature of America's military in the years after WWII that should be required reading for an America that is blissfully unaware of the subculture that is today's service men and women and the families that support them. For those who claim that "it takes a village" to raise a child or that individual Americans are not responsible for the fruits of their labors, Webb's story reveals instead that it take a dedicated father and mother and that, in America, you can achieve anything you desire. Webb succeeded magnificently despite mediocre schools, a vagabond's meanderings, and being the new kid in every situation that greeted him. More than that, wherever he was, including the blizzard-swept flat lands of Nebraska, he read and dreamed about far away places, including lands where strange things like mangoes grow, and vowed to travel there. Webb has done great and amazing things in his life and rubbed shoulders with the elites in politics, literature, and entertainment, but he remains fiercely loyal to his forebearers, the men and women of the rural South, and those who with him wore the uniform of this country. America is fortunate to have him among us.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    James Webb is an excellent author, and ¿I Heard My Country Call

    James Webb is an excellent author, and “I Heard My Country Calling,” is no exception. I would also recommend his other books, all of which I have read. I found this autobiography to be particularly interesting due to the fact that his life and mine briefly were in close proximity. I was two years ahead of Senator Webb at the Naval Academy. I doubt that we ever met, but I had experiences there similar to many of his, simply by virtue of living in the same environment. We were in the same battalion, and I was well aware of the sort of Plebe year my classmates were inflicting on Mr. Webb and his classmates just up a flight of stairs. His recollections of that time his life reinforce my own opinion of the lucidity of his writing. The accounts of his time in Vietnam are explicit and well-written, and I have no doubts as to their accuracy as well. To me, this lends an authenticity to whatever else he documents in the other books he has written. His writing also tends to reinforce my belief in his integrity and sense of honor as a human being.
    His book, Fields of Fire, was the first book I read about the ground war in Vietnam, as I was briefly in the Tonkin Gulf in 1969, serving as an anti-submarine pilot with patrol duties. I felt that his book was the best way to understand what was happening to my own friends and classmates serving in the Marine Corps as that war continued to grind on after we left the area. I’ll be forever grateful to Mr. Webb for having written it.
    On a different level, this book feels a lot like President Obama’s book, “Dreams From my Father.” In a political sense, I wish it was Senator Webb’s first move in a campaign to his own run for the presidency. To have a man of his humanity, intellect, qualifications and experience as well as leadership ability in the White House just might bring back a sense of legitimate hope to that office. Senator Webb, for one, you have my vote.
    At the very least, please don’t stop writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 16, 2015

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    Posted September 27, 2014

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    Posted July 14, 2014

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    Posted June 20, 2014

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