Professor Chris Appy to give talk on his new book
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
How did the Vietnam War change the way we think of ourselves as a people and a nation? Professor Christian G. Appy, author of the widely praised oral history of the Vietnam War, Patriots, and of the recently released American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity, examines the relationship between the war's realities and myths and its impact on our national identity, conscience, pride, shame, popular culture and postwar foreign policy.
Appy will vividly show how Vietnam entered American consciousness, first as an idealistic vision of Dr. Tom Dooley “saving” Vietnamese from godless Communists, then as a faraway brushfire war waged by much celebrated Green Beret heroes, and then, with each passing year, as a brutal, endless, and devastating catastrophe that shattered the broad faith in American exceptionalism and left a majority of citizens convinced their nation was engaged in an immoral war.
Appy will trace the rightward shift in U.S. politics and culture in the post-Vietnam decades and the efforts of President Ronald Reagan and others to rebuild the national pride and power they felt the war had deeply damaged. Yet, with gripping assessments of figures as different as “Rambo” and Bruce Springsteen, he will demonstrate how vexed and conflicted the legacies of Vietnam still remain. For all the pumped up patriotism of the 1980s and beyond, many Americans came to believe their nation was the victim of inexplicable foreign forces. National identity was defensive and fragile, lacking the unity and confidence that characterized American culture prior to the Vietnam War. And there was widespread wariness of any military intervention that might lead to “another Vietnam.”
After 9/11, U.S. policymakers ignored the cautionary lessons of the Vietnam War and launched the nation into two long and indecisive wars that went on long after a majority of citizens favored withdrawal.
Gripping and insightful, Professor Appy’s talk will appeal to anyone interested in the historical roots of our national identity and anyone concerned that 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.
Thursday, April 14, 6-7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 6:00, program begins at 6:30
UMass Club Boston
One Beacon Street, 32nd Floor
Space is limited!
RSVP by April 1st to Jess Usher
413-545-0385 or firstname.lastname@example.org