I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir
by James Webb
Simon and Schuster, 2014. 388 pages. Biography
From its title one might guess James Webb's new book to be a bit hokey; it is anything but. Webb, a former Marine platoon leader in Vietnam, an Emmy-winning journalist, author of ten very well received books, former Secretary of the Navy, and a recently retired U.S. Senator has written a fascinating account of his life as an Air Force brat moving relentlessly with his family around the country while his father was, by turns, a pilot and and engineer working on America's cold war missiles. Webb's accounts of his years at the naval academy and then as a combat marine in Vietnam are enlightening and harrowing. His continuing relationship with his family, particularly his grandmother, gives the reader a strong sense of where his own courage, persistence, and ambition came from. On the whole, I Heard my Country Calling is a rich and rewarding narrative with one major and mystifying gap: Webb has been married three times. Two of his wives are briefly mentioned, and two of his six children are very briefly mentioned. Why leave out such a profoundly important part of one's life? It's a puzzlement.