Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Jim Webb's Never-Ending War," 2007

From my latest story in Rolling Stone: "As night settles between the two mountain ridges that rise on either side of Lebanon, Virginia, a rough little strip of a town in the state’s southwestern corner, Senator Jim Webb’s people assemble in the Russell County Courthouse. They’re coal miners and coal miners’ wives, a third of them in the camouflage strike gear of the United Mine Workers, many of them wearing ball caps declaring them veterans of Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq. A leather-skinned veteran named Eldridge tells me in a raspy whisper that he voted for Jim Webb because Webb, a novelist and historian, had gotten these people, mountain people, right in his most recent book, a bestselling history of the Scots-Irish in America called Born Fighting. 'We’ve got our own ghosts and goblins,' Eldridge says, and he thinks Webb sees them. 'He has the Second Sight.'

"He’s the third person this evening to cite the supernatural—a kind of cultural memory, maybe—as a reason for supporting Webb, a fact that doesn’t surprise Virginia’s new Democratic senator. 'My grandmother taught me my ghosts,' he tells me, his voice a low, considered rumble."

Rolling Stone doesn't post many whole stories online, but for those who want to read it -- and willing to endure a slow download -- I've posted a pdf of "Jim Webb's Never-Ending War."