American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity

by Rachel Baker on February 23, 2015

Many years ago, I had a subscription to the Book Reporter magazine; and I loved it. I would read it from cover to cover more than once throughout the month. Over the years, I lost track of the company; new laptops and lost bookmarks, other things becoming higher on the priority list, new sites to write for – all contributed. Recently though, I found the Book Reporter twitter account. While the twitter account leaves a lot to be desired, it reminded me there is a website. If you’ve never been introduced to the Book Reporter, you should – click this link below and relish in the awesomeness that is.

This post is inspired by the review below by Barbara Bamberger Scott. She is reviewing the book by Christian Appy titled American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity. These days, I can’t help but wonder about our national identity and what the long Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and now the ISIS war will do to our identity as a nation. I think the book reviewed below is probably an important timely read, but I’m not really sure many people will read it.

Anyway, I enjoyed the review and loved finding Book Reporter again, so, I thought I’d share both.

Here’s the Article: American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity

Refusing to be stopped, “peace activism was given new life.” Students, spurred by bitter accounts from returning soldiers, gradually came to be regarded as rational spokespeople for the changing times. Meanwhile, “hard hat” working men, protesting the protestors, came to be vilified as “aggressive, super patriotic, anti-intellectual…” Race was part of the complex puzzle: many black soldiers went to Vietnam to establish their place of honor in American history, while others, like Muhammad Ali, famously reminded African Americans that they were fighting for the rights of people in Southeast Asia that they hadn’t been granted at home.

Concomitant to the cultural shift that made the anti-war stance acceptable — non-traitorous — was the nagging suspicion that not everything our government does is for the greater good. Yet even now, Appy opines, “The faith in American exceptionalism is so often repeated and reinforced it has the authority of settled truth.” Appy would have us remember that Vietnam “is our record; it is who we are.” Only by applying stringent self-judgment based on that acknowledgement might we begin to find better ways to resolve international conflicts.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

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