Christian Appy American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity

Viking, 2015

by Corinne Elicone on March 11, 2015

Christian Appy

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As the younger generation replaces the old, the wounds our nation felt during the immediate years after the Vietnam war are slowly healing. Author, Christian Appy argues that perhaps the Vietnam War is more present in every day politics than the nation is willing to admit.

In his book, American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Christian Appy examines the events leading up to the Vietnam War and challenges the idea of American exceptionalism. Furthermore, Appy investigates the social unrest surrounding the Vietnam War, and the long lasting effect it has had on not only our foreign policy, but also US involvement in the wars of our time.

After the failure of the Vietnam War, Appy recalls the breaking down of the idea that americans are in some way exceptional and should play the role of defenders of democracy in the world. However, with the conservative movement of the modern era he identifies a rise in this ideology once more. Appy characterizes this return of American exceptionalism as "brittle" and "defensive" and attributes this to the confusion that many Americans feel about the United States and its role in the world.

In his book, Christian Appy reveals the terrible reality of the Vietnam War and the wide effect it had on not only the people of this era, but of American perceptions through the present day. He claims, "Even as a young kid, the Vietnam War was such an ever-present reality you couldn't help but feel its emotional undertow". Listening to professor Appy talk could only remind me of my late uncle, a Vietnam War Vet, and his hidden bronze star collecting dust in the basement as he tried to move on from the memories of such a horrific war.

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