JAMES WEBB, author of the highly acclaimed Vietnam novel, Fields of Fire (1979), and once under consideration by President Reagan to head the Veterans Administration, has a new novel due out next fall. It's titled A Country Such as This, and it follows six people--three men, three women--through the years 1951 to 1976. But it's not a "military or naval novel, but rather one about the impact of world events on human lives," stresses Doubleday editor Kate Medina. That's the long of it. The short: "I'd describe it," Medina says, "as a postwar Winds of War."
Authors switching publishers in mid-research is an infrequent but not unheard-of event in the industry. Michael Beschloss, whose Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance was published by Norton in 1980, has been resident in Washington during the past year because of his current project, a study of State Department influence on foreign policy. This book had been sold to to Simon and Schuster. Now, however, Beschloss says, the S&S "book" no longer exists; instead, there's a history of American-Soviet relations from the early '50s to the early 1960s with a focus on the U-2 program, and it will be published by Harper & Row. "The relevant documents for the original book were opening up a lot more slowly than I'd anticipated," Beschloss explains, "so the contract was renegotiated and the advance returned." What's more interesting, though, is the prospect that Beschloss will, when his current project is finished, undertake to write a "major" life of John F. Kennedy. He won't confirm that this is anything more than a "possibility," but a Harper & Row spokesman, the JFK bio in mind, says of Beschloss, "We hope to have a long-term relationship."
Gods, Guts, and Guns is the provocative title of an April release from Seaview/Putnam. Subtitled A Close Look at the Radical Right, the author is Bethesda's Phillip Finch, a former reporter whose output now stands at four novels and two works of nonfiction. G,G & G's most newsworthy aspect, Finch thinks, is his investigation of a group that's so far been little written about--the "Israel Identity Movement" or, as it's alternately called, the "Christian Identity Movement." The more involved in the book's research he got the more he kept running into manifestations of this movement: it's "replaced fundamentalism as the religion of the hardcore radical right," in his opinion. Extremely anti- Zionist and anti-Semitic, the Israel Identity followers--who are most numerous in the Midwest, Arkansas, Missouri and California--believe that "the true Israel is not what we know as the Jewish nation but is instead white America." Finch also details the activities of, among others, the illegal tax protesters, the right-wing survivalists, various manifestations of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazis, as well as a group active in the West called the "Posse Comitatus" (they're, he says, "gun-toting, hyper-Constitutionalists"). It's enough, almost, to make you nostalgic for the Moral Majority whose latest ad campaign, by the way, is aimed at convincing folks that book burning is not what they're all about.