OiMMONs & Vii;\^rinOf Patriots and PraisenJames Webb: A Country Such as This;nDoubleday; New York.nby Bryce ChristensennWith his latest work, James Webbnhas created an acceptable book forneveryone except those who half ancentury ago declared war on everythingnwhich is valuable to the majority ofnAmericans. A Country Such as This is anwell-written novel by virtue of itsnbelievable characters, compellingndescriptions, and engaging plot. In thesendimensions, it is appreciably better thannmost contemporary novels. Moreover, AnCountry Such as This is unlike mostncurrent fiction in that it is written fromnan intelligently discernible point ofnview. Billed as “an epic novel of post-nWorld War II America,” Webb’s worknfeatures Annapolis graduates and theirnfamilies as its heroes and radical intellectualsnas its villains. That puts it too baldly:nWebb has not merely contrived a melodramanof white-hatted military men andntreasonous radicals, since none of hisncharacters is so lacking in virtue or freenfrom vice as to obscure his or her essentialnhumanity. Nonetheless, his mostnsympathetic characters are those whonuphold the proud motto “Not self, butncountry,” inscribed on the doors of thenNaval Academy chapel. These are peoplenwho bravely accept their duty to fightnAmerica’s wars in Korea and Vietnamnand to support the government at home.nThey are airmen who would rathernsuffer at the hands of North Vietnamesentorturers than join the “peace” movement’snleaders in thefr cheerfiilly utterednlies. Law-abiding citizens, they nevernunderstand courts lenient towardncriminals, journalists infatuated withncampus obscenity and chaos, nor liberalsnindifferent to the defense of AmericannMr. Christensen is assistant editor of thenChronicles.nChronicles of Culturenfreedom. They are middle-class, churchgoingnpatriots who still “thank God for ancountry such as this.” Fictional figures ofnsuch bent should and will elicit sympathynand praise.nSimilarly, Webb’s portrayals of thenantiwar activists as elitist, self-deceivednsupporters of totalitarianism, of the SDSncadres as cowardly analogues to Hitler’snbrovra shirts, of the media as “shrill andnirresponsible” enemies of the Americannmoral and ideological order, and ofnNixon’s enemies as hypocritical opportunistsnwill occasion many penned-innexclamation points of approval in thenmargins. Thousands of readers bored bynthe endless litany of self-congratulatorynliberal platitudes will heartily applaudnWebb’s refreshingly accurate descriptionnof wealthy and power-hungrynidealists who condescended neither tontolerate the terrestrial realities of 20thcenmrynAmerica nor to accept responsibilitynfor the hellish consequences ofnthefr own zealous crusades of high andnegotistic principles.nHere, then, is a writer those whonoppose the deterioration of nationalnculture may claim as an ally. Because Mr.nWebb demonstrates such clear-sightedncognizance of things real and quotidian,nthe urge is strong to indulge a littie bit, tonstoop to a few supportive cliches aboutnthis novel, to aimounce that it approximates,nperhaps, literature and—morencautiously—^art. Such a venial sin seemsnespecially excusable at a time whennamorphous fictions that romanticize thenmyths of liberal and Marxian dogma arenroutinely accorded the highest criticalnaccolades not only in The Nation and innThe New York Times Book Review butneven in The New York Review of BooksnWhy not join in this war of unwarrantednsuperlatives? Because all those disjointednand “progressive” forces whichnhave inflated thefr currency in literaryncriticism have done so for the verynreason that they adopted an ideologicalnorthodoxy in the first place: they wantnno truths not conveniently tailored toncomfortable preconceptions.nHence, despite one’s inclination tonsupport Mr. Webb’s world view, onenmust, in order to respect the integrity ofncriticism, restrict oneself to the adjectiven”good” in describing his book as a novel.nAnything more would enter the trajectorynof hyperbole. Certainly, A COMW&JnSuch as This deserves to be widely readnand is a valuable device for revising andnrestructuring entrenched and falsenbeliefs and stereotypes of popularnthinkiag. But between socially beneficialnwriting and literature—especiallynliterature of epic ambitions—extends anvast territory of ideas and experiencesnwhich Mr. Webb seems to have nevernentered.nPurely for the sake of clarification.nThe Chicago Tribune, in a routine display of its literary savvy and critical subtlety,nsays the following about James Webb’s writing:n’A Sense of Honor,’ [is] apatriotic—but nonetheless realistic—^novel —nThis is the type of intellectual and semantic sequitur which forces us to think thatnGeorge Washington was a figment of someone’s imagination, that oranges arenmanufecmred, that seven little dwarls under the hood of a Ford Mustang make it movenforward, and that the author of these words is retarded and his editors at the Tribunenwere under the influence of some strange substance when they qualified this a sentencenfor publication. He is identified, in his credit line, as a “faculty member at ElginnCommunity CoUege.” What is he there? A chair or a blackboard? 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