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~ Praise for A Common Virtue ~
“Honolulu resident James Hawkins draws on his experience as a U.S. Marine in the Vietnam War in his new novel A Common Virtue, which takes us into the jungle as sniper and reconnaissance expert Paul Jackson, sole survivor of a massacre at the hands of the Vietnamese foe. Like the Marines of today, many of these men are still kids (the character at the heart of this story is just 18), and, while it’s hard to see a story about the horrors of war as a coming-of-age novel, that’s exactly what we have here. A book with this caliber of vividness can only be written by someone who has been there.”—Honolulu Magazine
"This is an excellent novel that covers an important period in the Vietnam War where the Marines were adjusting tactics to meet the challenges of a determined enemy. It clearly received the 'stamp of approval' from one who was there and also provides the story of how the Marine Force Recon units were established. The primary characters are well developed and Hawkins seems to be setting the stage for a follow-on book or series. ...I highly recommended this book for anyone interested in getting an intimate perspective of combat Marines in the Vietnam War."
—Naval Historical Foundation
"This is James Hawkins’ first novel, and though I am not a regular reader of war & military fiction, I couldn’t put the book down. His writing is tight, crisp and had me anticipating every ambush. It is a gritty book that doesn’t hide the horrors of the Vietnam War."
—Historical Novel Society
“A Common Virtue is not a book for those who find patriotism ironic, or need to apologize for this country. Hawkins, a Marine veteran of Vietnam, writes a novel anchored in his own wartime experiences, in which he takes obvious pride. There are good guys and bad guys. The marines exhibiting uncommon valor are good guys. This novel is gripping and thought-provoking."
—Galveston Daily News
"The author used his experience as a Vietnam veteran to write about a Marine who endures trials and tribulations both in combat and back home. Military jargon and off-color language prevail in this gritty novel."
“‘If the colonel wants to count 'em, get his fat ass down here.’ . . . The colonel [in Vietnam] responded by roaring, ‘Save that kid. Gotta love a guy like that.’ A half-century later, nothing’s changed. Marines in Afghanistan are the same as in Vietnam. After a career of business success, Jim Hawkins returns to his roots. He gives us the endless story of grime, decency, blood, desire, sex, agony, grit, and death. Life afterwards is never as alive, sensual, and knife-edged.”
—Bing West, best-selling author of One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War
“A Common Virtue goes to the heart of what it means to be a Marine and what it means to honor your country and your brothers-in-arms, regardless of what enemies in the field and demonstrators at home may throw at you. Highly recommended.”
—William C. Hammond, author of How Dark the Night and A Call to Arms
“A Common Virtue puts the reader shoulder to shoulder with Force Recon as they find, fix, and finish their Vietnamese foe. A mission deep into the jungle and through the Marine Corps’ chain of command, James Hawkins’ introduction to this elite unit is electrifying.”
—Stephen Phillips, award-winning author of Proximity and The Recipient's Son
“With his new novel, A Common Virtue, James Hawkins joins the ranks of Leon Uris, James Webb, and W. E. B. Griffin in the accurate portrayal of United States Marines in combat. Moreover, this work is second to none in detail development of the two-man reconnaissance-team concept in the Vietnam War at the height of 1968’s Tet Offensive. The action is intense and accurate, keeping the reader up all night to ensure Sergeant Jackson survives the latest encounter with the NVA and VC. A break-out novel written by a former Marine as only a former Marine could.”
—John J. Gobbell, author of Edge of Valor and the Todd Ingram series.
“You can read and sweat at the same time. Through skillfully written words, Hawkins had me walking the trails of Vietnam, anticipating an ambush.”
—Wayne Zurl, U.S. Special Forces, Vietnam, 1969–70, author of The Sam Jenkins Mysteries
“James Hawkins’ vivid descriptions and natural dialogue will immediately draw you into the story. The action and strong characters, with just the right mixture of toughness and tenderness, will keep you turning the page. An excellent read!”
—Ann Everett, author of Tizzy Ridge Mystery Series
Becoming a man is difficult—even in the best of circumstances—but when it must be done in 1968 with the Year of the Monkey set to explode onto the cities and battlefields of a war-torn Vietnam, it is only the very best who make the grade.
A Common Virtue has the immediacy and punch of today’s fears as it draws on yesterday’s headlines. When the armies of Ho Chi Mihn push across the demilitarized zone on a scale never thought possible and simultaneously strike at hundreds of targets, American Marines are at the forefront—dependent on information from a special reconnaissance force that is the only thing that can stop Hanoi from using a New Year’s opportunity to seize the country.
Unfolding against this background is the story of Marine Paul Jackson, the sole survivor of a hillside massacre. A sniper and reconnaissance innovator, his epic march through the annals of the horrific bureaucracy that is the U.S. military in 1968 is the heart of this story. As an eighteen-year-old Marine he learns at an early age what he must do to survive; what he must do to excel; and what he must do to fit into the most exclusive military fraternity in the world.
A Common Virtue is about the other half of heroism, the part that pits a warrior against an American public that despises his uniform, against internal factions that brand him a “coward,” and against a beautiful woman who wants nothing more than for him to stay home and love her. It is about growing into manhood in a toxic America and a world gone mad. Tough choices, painful experiences, and an instinct for survival work to create a leader of legend. Exciting, historical, and far reaching, A Common Virtue is an ambitious and explosive creation; one that could only have been written by one who was there.
James A. Hawkins spent more than eleven years as a U.S. Marine and was a Vietnam veteran. He was an international educator, author, and business executive whose career spanned more than three decades and brought cutting-edge training technology to more than one hundred international countries. He was the chairman and chief executive officer of The Autumn Group, LLC, a humanitarian and ecologically-sensitive land development company located in Honolulu, HI. An established author, A Common Virtue was his first novel. James Hawkins died in 2015.