I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir

I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir

by James Webb


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In this brilliantly received memoir, former senator James Webb has outdone himself. It is rare in America that one individual is recognized for the highest levels of combat valor, as a respected member of the literary and journalistic world, and as a blunt-spoken leader in national politics. In this extraordinary memoir, Webb writes vividly about the early years that shaped such a remarkable personal journey.

Webb’s mother grew up in the poverty-stricken cotton fields of East Arkansas. His father and lifetime hero was the first in many generations of Webbs, whose roots are in Appalachia, to finish high school. He flew bombers in World War II and 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 a stern but emotionally invested father, a loving mother who had borne four children by the age of twenty-four, a granite-like grandmother who held the family together during his father’s frequent deployments, and a rich assortment of aunts, siblings, and cousins. Webb tells of his four years at Annapolis in a voice that is 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 good-bye to his parents as he leaves for Vietnam, his role as a twenty-three-year-old lieutenant through months of constant combat, or his election to the Senate, where he was a leader on national defense, foreign policy, and economic fairness. This is a life that could happen only in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476741154
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/19/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 591,246
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

1 January 3, 2013 1

2 The Good of the Service 12

3 Life with Father 46

4 Ambassadors 61

5 Military Brats 89

6 Missileers 117

7 Gone for a Soldier 134

8 Where Severn Joins the Tide 177

9 The Fleet-and the Corps 219

10 Hell in a Very Small Place 259

11 Fighting with My Brain 310

12 Aunt Lena's Test 354

Acknowledgments 369

Index 371

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I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
efm More than 1 year ago
Never give up story, easy read, amazing man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great history lesson for us Naturalized Citizens never had the privilage attending school in our Adapted Country.. One Greatful and Proud American
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