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Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides Paperback – September 28, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Christian Appy’s Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides is an oral history that serves as a "final public record" from many who have struggled publicly with the war for 20 or 30 years. The book is also a monumental effort to capture voices long unheard and ensure that the words are not lost to a new generation.

He includes statements from significant political and military figures from both sides of the conflict, including William Westmoreland, Alexander Haig, Nikita Kruschev's son Sergei, and Vice President Nguyen Thi Bihn. But he tempers these with the voices of a World Airways stewardess who accompanied troops out of the war zone, of the widow of the immolated Norman Morrison, and of numerous Vietnamese and American non-combatants whose lives were torn by the conflagration. These tales, and the contributions from poets, writers, and activists transform the book into a epic dialogue. Indeed, Appy says that he chose the title Patriots not out of a presumed understanding of how that word should be defined, but rather because it served as a locus for so many of the inner struggles of his interviewees: "In what ways might patriotism be a force for good or inspire noble sacrifice, and when does it become a club for stifling dissent and a rallying cry for unjustifiable destruction."

Patriots is a book that will reawaken memories--horrific and jubilant--for those who lived through the troubled 1960s and 1970s; and for those just coming to understand the war, it will make vivid the trials of a different time and place. This is a lasting, powerful book that's essential reading for students of the Vietnam conflict. --Patrick O’Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

When Appy (Working-Class War) says "all sides" he is not exaggerating. It's difficult to think of any group of people who were involved in the many and varied aspects of the American war in Vietnam not represented in these oral history pages. Appy's testifiers include war hawks; peace activists; former Vietcong guerrilla fighters, Vietnamese Communists, Vietnamese anti-Communists; American veterans of many stripes, from privates to generals, medics to infantrymen; POW/MIA activists; poets, novelists, journalists; entertainers; and former government officials from all sides. Appy amply fulfills his goal of presenting a "vast range of war-related memories" in this massive, valuable book. He spent five years traveling around the country and in Vietnam, interviewing 350 people, and included about half of their stories. Oral histories often suffer from loose organization or from voices that pop up confusingly again and again. Appy takes a different approach. Each person appears only once, and Appy gives the participants plenty of room to tell their stories. He also provides on-the-mark, often insightful introductions to each entry, along with brief but to-the-point chapter introductions to set the historical context. The book contains the remembrances of some well-known people, including Gen. William Westmoreland, Gen. Alexander Haig, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, Walt Whitman Rostow, Julian Bond, Ward Just, Oliver Stone, poet Yusef Kumunyakaa and writer-activists Todd Gitlin and Jonathan Schell. There are others known mostly to Vietnam cognoscenti (Chester Cooper, Le Minh Kue, Rufus Phillips, Wayne Karlin and Nguyen Qui Duc), as well as many of the voices of just plain folks who experienced the war in myriad ways. It all adds up to a solid contribution to the primary source background of the longest and most controversial overseas war in American history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004494
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Johnnie B. on January 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have read a few oral histories focused on the American phase of the Vietnam War. I have found them all faulty for one of three reasons. They are either fraudulent, the authors biases scream out at you, or they are incomplete (most common is not including South Vietnamese viewpoints). Mr. Appy has surmounted these pitfalls and produced a decent work.
Most refreshing to me is seeing the pro-West South Vietnamese perspective. I found the South Vietnamese Diplomat who specialized in trying to sell the war to Americans and the captured ARVN commando most intriguing. But there is more. Appy has samples of the whole spectrum. You can find high ranking pro war, low level anti war, communists, republican (South Vietnamese that is), soldier, guerilla, pilot, etc. You name the type of person, he/she is probably represented.....except for parties from the Free World Forces (Korea, Australia, Thailand, etc that also fought in the war). Still, this is a pretty minor omission.
I docked this book one star. To say Mr. Appy is biased is too harsh. I think its better to say has bought into the notion the US/Republic of Vietnam war effort was pointless. Ive seen Appy do a few interviews on TV. He always states the South lost because they were just puppets dependent on foreigners to keep them afloat (which ignores the fact that AK47s dont grow on trees and the Chinese Army units that garrisoned the North to free up NVA units going South were far from home grown). This attitude can also be found in the book. A good example is a footnote of Appy's that reinforces a Communist Vietnamese source's notion that Korean troops were just mercenaries. I am plugged into the Korean community and know quite a few of their Vietnam Vets. Money (in the form of US aid) was a very minor consideration in their participation. Despite this, Appy gives all sides a voice in his book. For this, he should be commended!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on January 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The use of oral histories as a specific historical device has been popularized over the last decade by such notable authors as Stephen Ambrose and Studs Terkel. Here we have the concept applied assiduously and quite comprehensively by scholar Christian Appy. Thus, "Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides" follows the track of previous tomes such as Myra MacPherson's memorable "Long Time Passing" and even David Marannis' recent "They Marched Into Sunlight", both of which in somewhat different manner broach the same panoply of issues as are discussed herein. This book represents an almost Herculean attempt to catch once more the dissipating and evaporating tenor of a vanishing time.
His coverage is indeed comprehensive, reaching all the way from the vapors of the late 1940s almost into the present. We find conversations and comments from people from all walks of life, from presiding generals like William Westmoreland to obscure stewardesses (even that term is dated, as they now are universally referred to as flight attendants), from politicians like blowhard Alexander Haig (remember "I am in control here"?) to the very grunts who dragged themselves and their buddies who hacked their way past the rotting jungle and raging rivers through the South Asian mud. There are voices from every side, from the son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev to former South Vietnamese Vice President Thu Bihn to former war resisters and anti-war activists. Indeed, the book attempts quite admirably to cover all the colors and hues of a multifaceted phenomenon that was the war in Vietnam.
As such, the work is a valuable resource for those who honestly want to understand what all the tumult over the war I Vietnam was in the 1960s.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By alex green on June 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No one who reads this book will be unmoved. Mr. Appy has collected more voices on the war (the book is an oral history) than any other author (or for that matter anyone)who has taken on this momentuous period in the history of both nations and set them out in such a juxtiposition that their collective voice is profound in its eloquence and unassailable truth. The truth being that the war was an unmitigated tragedy for all involved. My expercence,and that of others who have read the book (550 pgs.), is that while the stories (along with Mr. Appy's introductions and other comments)are compelling, one can only read a few stories at a time because the accounts are so powerful and so affecting that the reader needs time to digest the emotions they reflect and evoke. A truly important and, on top of that, riveting book.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Zendicant Pangolin on May 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd like to begin this review with a few of the things that may have been left out in the reviews below. First, although this is a lengthy book, it is constructed in such a way that it could be almost twice as long and the reader would wish for more (in fact the author states that he had to excise plenty of great material in the interests of brevity; I wish that he hadn't). This is because within the broad chapter overviews he has condensed interviewee statements into spaces sometimes as small as a couple of paragraphs. In fact, it is amazing how much pith the author is able to include in such abbreviated memoirs. Second, as is hinted below, Mr. Appy has produced a book with the broadest time spectrum yet of the English language literature that has been produced on the war, that I am aware of. Third, Mr. Appy has generously included a plethora of book titles within the body of the work and in the bibliography from both participants in his survey and books that he has used for reference. Many of these books were new to me and I've read or passed on dozens of Vietnam War books in the past two years. So, if you are on the hunt for new reading material this is a great resource. Finally, one of the things hinted at but not specifically mentioned in reviews below, the unfolding of events in Vietnam and the way they were canned and served to the American public has some very disturbing parallels to the present Bush Administration's machinations in Iraq (No, I don't believe that Iraq is America's new Vietnam war, rather I suggest that the reader look toward Russia's involvement in Chechnya for a more apt simile).Read more ›
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