Marine Green to Navy Blue
You know what they say about the strapping young kid coming up from the bush leagues? Don't tell him he's the next Mickey Mantle. Too much pressure. Let him develop at his own speed. Even so, I can't keep from saying that there are echoes of James Webb's seminal Vietnam War novel Fields of Fire in U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen Daniel McCawley's and Steven Sifuentes's haunting, impressionistic essays recalling their time as Marines in Iraq.
The spare, chilling, no-hold's-barred clarity of Webb's narrative in Fields ranks among the finest combat writing. That Webb, now a U.S. senator, was a midshipman before he turned Leatherneck makes the comparison inevitable even when you reverse the order in which he and the two younger writers cloaked themselves in Marine green.
Am I going overboard? Read "From the Banks of the Euphrates to the Shores of the Severn," the feature that leads off this annual Marine issue of Proceedings and tell us whether you agree (commentanddiscussion.com). In particular, read Dan McCawley's "A Hard Heart" and "Dutiful Son" and tell me your blood didn't run cold.