American Reckoning

American Reckoning

The Vietnam War and Our National Identity

eBook - 2015
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How did the Vietnam War change the way we think of ourselves as a people and a nation? Christian G. Appy, author of the widely praised oral history of the Vietnam War Patriots, now examines the relationship between the war's realities and myths and its impact on our national identity, conscience, pride, shame, popular culture, and postwar foreign policy.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, 2015
ISBN: 9780698191556
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xix, 396 pages)

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Oct 20, 2015

“Vietnam brought something wholly new and unexpected into the American war story: failure. And not just failure to achieve the war’s stated objectives, but failures to preserve the broad conviction that America was an exceptional force for good in the world.”
Vietnam continues to trouble Americans and to be a subject for novelists ("Tree of Smoke," "Matterhorn"), filmmakers ("Last Days in Vietnam"), and historians. Along with the recent "Kill Anything That Movies," "American Reckoning" is an unflinching and critical look at our involvement in Vietnam. Christian G. Appy, a historian and author, is not telling a new story, but, rather, as the title indicates, what Vietnam says about us, how it was viewed at the time, and the way it exists in memory and media. It presumes some familiarity with the basic history of the war, but Appy is more interested with the existential and cultural nature of the war and its impact on the American psyche. For a while, it was the war we lost and then, in the 80s, it was reclaimed by the right wing as the war we could've won. What I like is that he also discusses the war in the context of popular culture, focusing on the slew of Vietnam-themed films in the 80s, such as "Rambo," "Missing in Action," and "Born on the Fourth of July." An important and provocative book about a war that, according to Appy, we have still to fully process or atone for.

ChristchurchLib Mar 31, 2015

In American Reckoning, historian Christian Appy analyzes the Vietnam War's effects on America's self-perception, political atmosphere, and subsequent foreign policy. Examining a variety of popular artistic works (including songs, films, and literature), official documents, and news accounts, Appy recounts the war's growth from a supposedly small anti-Communist operation to a vast, expensive, and deadly engagement that ended in American defeat. Arguing that the reasoning behind this war hasn't been openly debated, he concludes that Vietnam's legacy holds risky implications for 21st-century national and international security and suggests that citizens and policy makers should reconsider current American international policies. History and Current Events April 2015 newsletter.


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