Hailed as the most important novel to emerge from the Vietnam War when first published in 1978, this book launched a spectacular writing career for James Webb that now includes four bestselling novels. A much-decorated former Marine who fought and was wounded in Vietnam, Webb tells the story of a platoon of tough, young Marines enduring the tropical hell of Southeast Asian jungles while facing an invisible enemy--in a war no one understands. Filled with the sounds and smells of combat, it is nevertheless a book about people, an amazing variety of closely observed characters caught up in circumstances beyond their control. It is a powerful work that brilliantly expresses the basic ambiguity of war: the repulsion of war's destruction contrasted with the grisly attraction of war as the ultimate test of survival. Critics have compared this bestselling first novel to All Quiet on the Western Front and The Naked and the Dead, among other masterpieces, for authentically capturing the fury and agony of combat.
This is the real war in Vietnam, told without histrionics or self pity. For many years the novel has been a part of the recommended reading list of the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.