AMERICAN RECKONING: THE VIETNAM WAR AND OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY by Christian G. Appy
American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity by Christian G. Appy
In the backwash of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their troubling parallels to America's failure in Vietnam, Christian Appy takes us from the dawn of the Cold War to the Global War on Terror with a completely fresh, and often startling, interpretation of Vietnam's impact on our culture, foreign policy, and national identity.
Drawing on sources ranging from popular books and movies to official documents and contemporary commentary, Appy vividly shows us how Vietnam entered the American consciousness, first as an idealistic vision of America "saving" Vietnamese from godless Communists in Tom Dooley's bestselling book Deliver Us From Evil; then as a faraway brushfire war waged by much-celebrated Green Beret heroes; and eventually, with each passing year, as a brutal, endless, and devastating catastrophe that shattered the broad faith in American exceptionalism and left most citizens convinced their nation was engaged in a immoral war.
In the subsequent rightward shift in American politics and culture, Ronald Reagan and others worked to rebuild the national pride and power they felt the war had deeply damaged, with some unexpected results. Appy's original readings of Rambo, Top Gun, Bruce Springsteen, and much more demonstrate how vexed and conflicted the legacies of Vietnam remain. For all the pumped-up patriotism of the 1980s and beyond, Americans had lost faith and confidence in their nation's global role. National identity was more fragile and defensive. Many thought the country had become the victim of inexplicable foreign forces. And there remained widespread wariness of any military intervention that might lead to "another Vietnam."
And yet, after 9/11, U.S. policymakers ignored every cautionary lesson of the Vietnam War and launched the nation into two protracted and indecisive wars that went on long after a majority of citizens favored withdrawal. Today our foreign policy rests ever more in the hands of an imperial presidency and a tiny group of advisers who do not seek the consent of an informed citizenry. American Reckoning offers a necessary corrective to our historical memory and our current course.
Viking Press, Hardcover, 2015
THIS IS A BRAND NEW BOOK. THERE IS A RED "CLOSEOUT/REMAINDER" MARK ON THE BOTTOM PAGE EDGES.