Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam by Christian G. Appy, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

by Christian G. Appy
     
 

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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

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

Editorial Reviews

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.
Richard Paul Snyder
If, as Christian Appy claims, "the final lesson of Vietnam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by a memory," then the Vietnam War was America's most significant twentieth-century military conflict. It was, too, a "working class" war--not one participated in by all classes equally (how many wars have been?). Citing a mass of statistics, which he intersperses with oral history, the professor hypothesizes that "roughly 80 percent" of the soldiers "came from working class and poor backgrounds. . . . Most men from prosperous families were able to avoid the draft, and very few volunteered." Appy takes the reader from the draft and induction through basic training, arrival in Vietnam, humping the boonies, actual combat, and witnessed and participated-in atrocities. He reflects the state of mind of many soldiers: that Vietnam was a war for nothing. Despite scholarship in depth--a myriad of footnotes and a lengthy bibliography--Appy's results are mixed. Is his work an oral history or a scholarly work? Neither, perhaps; it's a sort of--highly pleasurable--textbook. For large collections.
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)
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807860113
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
11/09/2000
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
377
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Appy has listened carefully to hundreds of American veterans of the Vietnam War and understands their thoughts and emotions. Like Studs Terkel's accounts of the wisdom of ordinary people, Working-Class War is gripping, thorough, and compelling.—Walter H. Capps, author of The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience

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

Appy builds up a brilliant case by carefully dissecting the social/class/race origins of the men who fought in Vietnam. 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

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

Definitive and engrossing.—Commonweal

[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

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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