Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

Overview

No one can understand the complete tragedy of the American experience in Vietnam without reading this book. Nothing so underscores the ambivalence and confusion of the American commitment as does the composition of our fighting forces. The rich and the powerful may have supported the war initially, but they contributed little of themselves. That responsibility fell to the poor and the working class of America.--Senator George McGovern

"Reminds us of the disturbing truth that some 80 percent of the 2.5 million ...

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Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

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Overview

No one can understand the complete tragedy of the American experience in Vietnam without reading this book. Nothing so underscores the ambivalence and confusion of the American commitment as does the composition of our fighting forces. The rich and the powerful may have supported the war initially, but they contributed little of themselves. That responsibility fell to the poor and the working class of America.--Senator George McGovern

"Reminds us of the disturbing truth that some 80 percent of the 2.5 million enlisted men who served in Vietnam--out of 27 million men who reached draft age during the war--came from working-class and impoverished backgrounds. . . . Deals especially well with the apparent paradox that the working-class soldiers' families back home mainly opposed the antiwar movement, and for that matter so with few exceptions did the soldiers themselves.--New York Times Book Review

"[Appy's] treatment of the subject makes it clear to his readers--almost as clear as it became for the soldiers in Vietnam--that class remains the tragic dividing wall between Americans.--Boston Globe

Working Class War explores the experiences and attitudes of the 2.5 million American enlisted men who served in Vietnam, painting a compelling portrait of the war as it was lived by the troops who fought it. While race and region were prominent factors, class was the most important element in determining who fought and died in Vietnam, as 80 percent of the enlisted men came from the poor or working class.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
No one can understand the complete tragedy of the American experience in Vietnam without reading this book.

Senator George McGovern

Definitive and engrossing.

Commonweal

Working-Class War is gripping, thorough, and compelling.

Walter H. Capps, author of The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience

There really is no other study that accomplishes what Appy has done.

Lloyd C. Gardner, author of Approaching Vietnam: From World War II Through Dienbienphu, 1941-1954

Library Journal
In his introduction, Appy (history, MIT) states, ``Vietnam is not . . . merely a memory; it is a fundamental part of our history and, therefore, a fundamental part of what we are.'' What follows is an in-depth look at the ``part of what we are'' that is literally the living legacy of the war--the Vietnam veteran. The author has compellingly combined his experiences from interviews, participation in weekly veterans' ``rap'' groups, and examination of existing Vietnam-era literature to present two narratives. First, he examines the circumstances that created a fighting force in Vietnam made up predominantly of working-class young men. He then vividly presents readers with what participants of the war endured by synthesizing accounts of veterans with illustrative excerpts from novels, nonfiction works, and films concerning the war. Appy's achievement is conveying to readers insight into the war experience of Vietnam veterans. Highly recommended for all libraries.-- Robert Favini, Bentley Coll. Lib., Waltham, Mass.
Booknews
Drawing on extensive interviews with veterans, Appy (history, MIT) explores the attitudes of the 2.5 million American enlisted men who served in Vietnam, not only drawing a compelling portrait of the war as it was lived by the troops who fought it, but also examining the social, military, and political contexts vital to understanding their experiences. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807843918
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 377
  • Sales rank: 1,145,514
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian G. Appy is professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Facing the Wall 1
1 Working-Class War 11
2 Life before the Nam 44
3 Basic Training 86
4 Ominous Beginnings 117
5 The Terms of Battle 145
6 Drawing Fire and Laying Waste 174
7 A War for Nothing 206
8 What Are We Becoming? 250
9 Am I Right or Wrong? 298
Notes 323
Bibliography 343
Index 355
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