American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity
The critically acclaimed author of Patriots offers profound insights into Vietnam’s place in America’s self-image.
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.
Drawing on a vast variety of sources from movies, songs, and novels to official documents, media coverage, and contemporary commentary, Appy offers an original interpretation of the war and its far-reaching consequences. Authoritative, insightful, sometimes surprising, and controversial, American Reckoning is a fascinating mix of political and cultural reporting that offers a completely fresh account of the meaning of the Vietnam War.
CHRISTIAN G. APPY is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of two previous books on the Vietnam War. Patriots was a main selection of BOMC and won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction. He lives in Amherst.
Praise for Chris Appy’s American Reckoning
“Brilliant, beautiful, and painful, American Reckoning is an essential book, not just because it looks so incisively at the forces shaping our foreign policy in Vietnam and afterward, but because it so brightly illuminates the question we all need to ask ourselves: what is America's place in the world?”
—Peter Davis, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Hearts and Minds
“A triumph of originality. Appy weaves together a rich tapestry of sources into a completely innovative, eye-opening, and compulsively readable account of the Vietnam War and its far-reaching consequences. American Reckoning offers a fresh lens for understanding the United States in the context of its most controversial conflict as well as its twenty-first-century wars. It’s an impressive, valuable book.”
—Nick Turse, author of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves
“In the vast literature on the Vietnam War it’s the question that has not received sustained and authoritative attention: How did the long and bitter struggle in Southeast Asia influence Americans’ sense of themselves? Christian Appy’s penetrating and lucid account helps us make sense as few books have of this difficult chapter in the nation’s history.”
—Fredrik Logevall, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Embers of War
“Christian Appy has written a compelling reflection on the Vietnam War and its aftermath of endless war. He argues persuasively that we must remember the war and its consequences if we are to come to a full reckoning with the past and finally dispel the myth of American exceptionalism.”
—Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars