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Christian G. Appy

Professor of History

Portrait of Chris Appy

(413) 545-6768

Herter Hall 718

Professor Appy received his BA at Amherst College and his PhD at Harvard University (both in American Studies). He is best known for his books on the Vietnam War: a social history of American combat soldiers; a wide-ranging oral history from multiple perspectives (including accounts of Vietnamese and Americans combatants, policymakers, antiwar activists, journalists, etc.); and a history of the war’s impact on American national identity, culture, and foreign policy from the 1950s through the Obama administration. He is currently working on a book about Daniel Ellsberg based largely on his papers, recently acquired by Special Collections & University Archives at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. The working title is “Ellsberg’s Mutiny: War and Resistance in the Age of Vietnam, The Pentagon Papers, and Nuclear Terror.”  

Research Areas

The Vietnam War

U.S. Foreign Policy

20th and 21st Century U.S. History

Nuclear Weapons



American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Viking, 2015)

Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides (Viking, 2003).

Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000). Editor

Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam (University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

Selected Articles and Chapters

“‘A Pervasive and Insistent Disquiet:’ Amherst College in the 1960s,” in Martha Saxton, ed., Amherst in the World (Amherst, MA: Amherst College Press, 2020)

“Empire Lite,” Catalyst, Volume 3, No. 3, Fall 1919

“The Tainted Memory of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement,” Temas: Cultura, Ideologia Sociedad, Fall, 2018

“What Was the Vietnam War About?” New York Times, March 26, 2018

“Exceptional Victims,” Boston Review, January 26, 2018

“The Contested Origins of the Atomic Age and the Cold War,” in Christopher Vials, ed., American Literature in Transition: 1940-1950 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 

“Vietnam Redux: The Pitfalls of American Exceptionalism,” Oklahoma Humanities Magazine, Fall/Winter 2017

“The Vietnam War, a documentary,” Seven-part, thirty-five page review of the film by Ken Burns/Lynn Novick, Process, blog site of the Organization of American Historians, 2017.

“Our ‘Merciful’ Ending to the ‘Good War’: America’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 Years Later,” TomDispatch, August 4, 2015. 

“From the Fall of Saigon to Our Fallen Empire,” TomDispatch, April 26, 2015

“‘Honor’ the Vietnam Veteran, Forget the War,” TomDispatch, February 8, 2015 

“None of Us Belonged There,” Massachusetts Review, Vol. 52, Nos. 03 & 04, 2011 

“Class Wars: The American Military in Vietnam and Iraq,” in Marilyn Young and Lloyd Gardner, eds., Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (The New Press, 2007)

“The Ghosts of War,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2004

"Vietnam War Mythology and the Rise of Public Cynicism," in Alexander Bloom, ed., Long Time Gone:  Sixties America Then and Now (Oxford University Press, 2001).

"'We'll Follow the Old Man':  The Strains of Sentimental Militarism in Popular Films of the Fifties," in Peter J. Kuznick and James Gilbert, eds., Rethinking Cold War Culture (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).

"Eisenhower's Guatemalan Doodle or:  How to Draw, Deny, and Take Credit For a Third World Coup" in Christian G. Appy, ed. Cold War Constructions (University of Massachusetts Press, 2000).

Awards and Accolades

Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, 2019 (university-wide honor)

Chancellor’s Medal, 2017

University of Massachusetts Distinguished Lecturer (2016-17)

Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer (2016-218)

Spotlight Scholar, 2015 (university-wide honor)

Distinguished Teaching Award, 2013 (university-wide honor)

Massachusetts Book Award for Non-Fiction, 2004 (for Patriots)

Courses Recently Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

“The American War in Vietnam” - General Education lecture course

“The Nuclear Age” - Undergraduate seminar on the impact of nuclear weapons on US culture, politics, and foreign policy

Graduate and Jointly Taught Courses:

“Truth, Dissent, and the Life of Daniel Ellsberg” - Year-long undergraduate and graduate seminar

“Imperial America: The US and the World from 1846 to the Present” - Taught as a graduate seminar and undergraduate General Education course.