Webb, James 1946-

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Webb, James 1946-
(James H. Webb, Jr., James Henry Webb, Jr., James Webb, Jr.)


Born February 9, 1946, in St. Joseph, MO; son of James Henry (a military officer) and Vera Lorraine Webb; married Barbara DuCote (an attorney), June 7, 1968 (divorced); married JoAnn Krukar; children: (first marriage) Amy Lorraine; (second marriage) Jimmy, Sarah, Julia. Education: Attended University of Southern California, 1963-64; U.S. Naval Academy, B.S., 1968; Georgetown University, J.D., 1975.


Agent—Collier Associates, 280 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.


Government of Guam, Territorial Planning Commission, Agana, consultant on military planning, 1974; U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, assistant minority counsel to Committee on Veterans Affairs, 1977-78, chief minority counsel, 1979-81; novelist, 1981-84; U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, DC, assistant secretary for reserve affairs, 1984-87; U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Washington, DC, 1987-88; writer, consultant, and public speaker, 1988—. U.S. Naval Academy, visiting writer and professor, 1979. Republican National Committee, member of advisory committee on outreach, beginning 1977. Television correspondent from Lebanon for Mac/Neil/Lehrer NewsHour, Public Broadcasting Service, 1983; executive producer of the feature film Rules of Engagement (also based on story by Webb), released by Paramount Pictures, 2000. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, platoon leader, company commander, and later instructor at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, 1968-72; served in Vietnam; became captain; received Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, National Achievement Medal, and two Purple Hearts.


Pacific Asian Studies Association, Disabled American Veterans.


Named outstanding veteran, Vietnam Veterans Civic Council, 1976; Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for 1983 coverage of terrorist bombing in Lebanon; fellow at Institute of Politics, Harvard University, 1992; Pulitzer Prize nomination for Fields of Fire; Distinguished Public Service Medal, U.S. Department of Defense; Patriot Award, Medal of Honor Society; National Commander's Public Service Award, American Legion; Media Service Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars; Military Order of the Iron Mike Award, John Russell Leadership Award, and Robert L. Denig Distinguished Service Award, all Marine Corps League.



(Under name James Webb, Jr.) Fields of Fire, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1978.

A Sense of Honor, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1981.

A Country Such as This, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1983.

Something to Die For, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.

The Emperor's General, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Lost Soldiers, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2001.


(Under name James H. Webb, Jr.) Micronesia and U.S. Pacific Strategy, Praeger Publishers (New York, NY), 1974.

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor of articles on military subjects to numerous periodicals, including Washingtonian.


James Webb once commented: "I wrote Fields of Fire with a desire to convey certain truths about human nature that become illuminated in a combat environment. Too often our combat literature notes that men discover camaraderie and courage, and are debased by the realization that they are violent and cruel in their unnatural surroundings, and then stops, as if the point has been made.

"Combat to me represents not the discovery of courage, but the limitations of heroism. Most people have the capacity for bravery. But in a war of attribution such as Vietnam, the greatest acts of courage often yielded nothing more than a corpse-strewn ridgeline that would be abandoned immediately after having been attained. Courage in this environment, where day after day a man was required to place his life on the line for no attainable objective, became a waste, and the end result was that it became a precious commodity, to be used sparingly. Unless a man lost his regard for his own life (which sometimes happened), heroic acts became limited to the preservation of the unit and the man's friends. From this comes the natural feeling of isolation and disaffection from those who are not participating in the misery.

"With respect to violence, people do not discover a capacity for cruelty in combat, but rather find that their natural violent tendencies have been afforded a longer leash. If man was not a naturally violent animal, he would have become extinct long before civilization placed rational limits on his behavior. My exposure to combat showed me again and again that most violent acts, including most of those sensationalized by our press, came from good intentions. That which was labeled cruelty, even ‘atrocious,’ was, with limited exceptions, inherently logical given the circumstances of the alleged culprit. The acts may be wrong, in society's judgment, but if so they were mistakes of judgment, not murder. And, in many cases, I would venture that these alleged ‘perpetrators’ merely have been exposed to a greater truth than those who judge them. When it boils down to the actual confrontation, there are very few martyrs among us, and very many who would accomplish their own survival, no matter the cost.

"Another truth illuminated by combat is the effect of peer groups on human actions. A collection of people develops its own moral ambience, its own standards of dignity. A group will do things that an individual member would never do, on his own. Further, an individual will often pay almost any price for the respect of his peers. Thus, a group will kill when an individual would not, and an individual will sometimes die because he believes it is expected of him under the circumstances by his peers. Some men will attempt an impossible feat because the alternative—not trying—would destroy the ‘pecking order’ they have accomplished in the group.

"These truths, stripped bare in combat, are the most powerful driving forces in our culture."



American Journal of Psychiatry, December, 1999, review of The Emperor's General, p. 2003.

American Spectator, September, 1991, Peter Braestrup, review of A Sense of Honor.

Chicago Tribune, January 8, 1984, review of A Country Such as This.

Choice, January, 1987, review of Fields of Fire, p. 731.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Lost Soldiers, pp. 1063-1064.

People, November 7, 1983, interview.

Publishers Weekly, March 20, 1981.

Wall Street Journal, November 16, 1983, review of A Country Such as This.


James Webb Home Page,http://www.jameswebb.com (April 12, 2006).

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