A quarter century has passed since the last American helicopter flew off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, and only now have we attained the perspective and access to make a book like Patriots possible. In this monumental oral history, Christian G. Appy has created the first work to probe the war's path through both the United States and Vietnam. Intellectually illuminating and emotionally overwhelming, Patriots allows us to see and feel what this war really meant to people on all sides-Americans and Vietnamese, generals and grunts, policy makers and protesters, guerrillas and CIA operatives, pilots and doctors, artists and journalists, and a variety of ordinary citizens whose lives were swept up in a cataclysm that killed three million people.
The vivid accounts of 135 men and women span the entire history of the Vietnam conflict from its murky origins in the 1940s to the chaotic fall of Saigon in 1975. Their memories take us from deafening jungle firefights to Oval Office policy debates, from the underground tunnels of Cu Chi to Kent State, from press briefings in Saigon to dogfights in the skies over North Vietnam, from POW tiger cages to the Paris peace talks. Their voices, along with Appy's running text, make clear why this war generated some of the most bitterly divisive moral and political debates of the twentieth century.
Reflecting the experiences and passions of all who were touched by the war, Patriots will stand with the most important and influential books on the Vietnam era.
Praise for Chris Appys American Reckoning
“Brilliant, beautiful, and painful, American Reckoning is an essential book, not just because it looks so incisively at the forces shaping our foreign policy in Vietnam and afterward, but because it so brightly illuminates the question we all need to ask ourselves: what is America's place in the world?”
—Peter Davis, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Hearts and Minds
“A triumph of originality. Appy weaves together a rich tapestry of sources into a completely innovative, eye-opening, and compulsively readable account of the Vietnam War and its far-reaching consequences. American Reckoning offers a fresh lens for understanding the United States in the context of its most controversial conflict as well as its twenty-first-century wars. Its an impressive, valuable book.”
—Nick Turse, author of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything That Moves
“In the vast literature on the Vietnam War its the question that has not received sustained and authoritative attention: How did the long and bitter struggle in Southeast Asia influence Americans sense of themselves? Christian Appys penetrating and lucid account helps us make sense as few books have of this difficult chapter in the nations history.”
—Fredrik Logevall, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Embers of War
“Christian Appy has written a compelling reflection on the Vietnam War and its aftermath of endless war. He argues persuasively that we must remember the war and its consequences if we are to come to a full reckoning with the past and finally dispel the myth of American exceptionalism.”
—Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars
Praise for PATRIOTS: THE VIETNAM WAR REMEMBERED FROM ALL SIDES
"Christian Appy's Patriots should do for the Vietnam War what Studs Terkel's The Good War did for World War II: remove it from the realm of mythology and ground it in the vivid memories of people who lived and fought in it and against it, who ran it and suffered from it. This remarkable book is a genuine oral history of the Vietnam War, true to its title, from all sides of the conflict. Until now, no single book on the war has included so many different American perspectives and so varied a group of Vietnamese voices. That not only makes the book unique, it also means you can follow the war from its true beginnings . . . all the way to Patty and Earl Hopper Sr., still convinced that Vietnam holds American POWs. By bringing Vietnamese voices and experiences to the story of what is known in Vietnam as the American War, Appy challenges us in unexpected ways. No review can do justice to the riches in Patriots."
"Inspired . . . Patriots is a gem of a book. Appy gives his participants ample room to tell their stories, but his own contribution to the sucess of the volumje is considerable. [The] chapter introductions, which are crucial in lending cohesion to the overall enterprise, are authoritative and elegantly written."
—The Washington Post
"Appy allows each of his chosen voices to offer an unvarnished recollection--painful, conflicted, occasionally beautiful--of an extraordinary time."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Of all the works on the Vietnam War--fiction and nonfiction--this is the big one . . . the book that was waiting to be written."
"As a Vietnam combat veteran who participated in most of the major historical battles of 1968, I'm understadably ambivalent about reading Vietnam books, fiction and nonfiction. Christian G. Appy's Patriots is a different and even-handed approach to a still controversial and divisive subject. The overall effect of listening to different voices on the same sore subject is eye-opening and revealing. Each voice sounds fresh, as if the storyteller had been waiting for decades--and most of them had--to tell their story, to relieve themselves of something that had been bothering them for a long time, or just to set the record straight in their own minds. At the end, I for one felt more than satisfied because I had reached a greater understanding of the event that changed my life and the life of the nation."
—Nelson DeMille, author of The General's Daughter, Word of Honor, and Plum Island
PRAISE FOR CHRISTIAN G. APPY AND Working-Class War:
In this monumental oral history, Appy has created the first work to probe the war's path through both the United States and Vietnam. Intellectually illuminating and emotionally overwhelming, "Patriots" allows readers to see and feel what this war really meant to people on all sides.
Part One: Introductions
Bernard Trainor: It turned out the major of Danang was a double agent
Dang Vu Hiep: With all those choppers they seemed terribly strong
Roger Donlon: We were babes in arms in every way
Tran Thi Gung: I was stuck in a tunnel for seven days
Paying the Price
Ta Quang Thinh: They carried me the whole way back to the North
George Watkins: That sand was probably the only thing that saved me
Phan Xuan Sinh: Ail my ancestors are buried here
Where is Vietnam?
Jo Collins: I just thought I was going to Europe
Deirdre English: How can my country be at war and I don't know about it?
Part Two: Beginnings (1945-64)
History Is Not Made with IFS
Henry Prunier: These were not ragtag farmers
Yo Nguyen Giap: The most atrocious conflict in human history
Deliver Us From Evil
Daniel Redmond: The doctor who won the war in Indochina
Rufus Phillips: Tell 'em I'm not French before they lynch me
Ngo Vinh Long: If they're making maps, they're preparing for war
Kick the Tires and Light the Fires
Richard Olsen: It was like 'Terry and the Pirates'
Malcolm Browne: You could smell the burning flech
Le Leiu Browne: There was one coup after another
Paul Hare: My cock lost the fight
The Emporor Has No Clothes
Paul Kattenburg: What's good for Peru is good for Vietnam
Evelyn Colbert: Dissent which contradicted the public optimism was ignored
Chester Cooper: Boy, you speak just like an American
Sergei Khruchchev: The Vietnamese had their own ideas
John Singlaub: We sent them all back with a generous gift package
Luyen Nguyen: She divorces her second husband and waited for me
Part Three: Escalations
Trails to War
Vu Thi Vinh: The Truong Son jungle gave us life
Nguyen Thi Kim Chuy: We came home hairless with ghostly white eyes
Hegelhimer: I was their wife, their sister, their girlfriend
You Want Me to Start World War III?
James Thompson: This was crazy and deceitful policy making
Seth Tillman: We could stop this war tommorrow
Charles Cooper (I): He used the f-word more freely than a marine in boot camp
Walt Whitman Rostow: Take the North Vietnamese of Vinh hostage
Dennis Deal: Man, if we're up against this, it's gonna be a long-ass year
Ward Just: It approached the vicinity of the spiritual
Le Cao Dai: Sometimes I operated all night while the staff took turns pedaling the bicycle
From Civil Rights to Antiwar
Julian Bond: They said I was guilty of treason and sedition
General Baker Jr.: When the call is made to free the Mississippi Delta...I'll be the first one in line
The Ultimate Protest
Anne Morrison Welsh: It was like an arrow was shot from Norman's heart
Jim Soular: A goddamn chopper was worth three times more than David
James Lafferty: No draft board ever failed to meet its quotas
David M. Smith: The knife man
Sylvia Lutz Holland: We saved their lives, but what life?
Chi Nguyen: Being wounded was not considered the worst thing that could happen
Bobbie Keith: I got a butterfly right on the butt. So that's my war story
James Brown: After they got the funk they went back and reloaded
Quach Van Phong: An artist ca be as important in war as a soldier
Nancy Smoyer: I can't believe the Donut Dollies got us to do that
Vu Hy Thieu: Nothing was more essential than our sandals
Joe McDonald: I was president of my high school marching band
Jopnathan Schell: I had my notebook right there in the plane
Pinkerton Jr.: Good luck and good hunting
Luu Huy Chao: Before I trained as a pilot I had never been in an airplane
Nguyen Quang Sang: That was the first time I ever saw an American
Fred Branfman: What would it be like to hide in a cave all for five years?
Prisoners of War (I)
Porter Halyburton: I don't see how you've got a worse place than this
Troung My Hoa: They tried to make us say, 'Down with President Ho!'
Randy Kehler: Friction against the wheel
Cameras, Books, and Guns
Philip Jones Griffiths (I): Go see what they did to those people with your money
Larry Heinemann: We had this idea that we were king of the fucking hill
Doung Thanh Phong: We didn't need a darkroom
Joan Holden: The counterculture was visible everywhere
Oliver Stone: He lived to kill. He was like a real Arab
Nguyen Duy: Whoever won, the people always lost
Yusef Komunyakaa: Soul Brothers, what you dying for?
H.D.S. Greenway: We would write something ans the magazine would ignore it if it wasn't upbeat
Todd Gitlin: A rather grandoise sense that we were the stars and spear-carriers of history
Tom Englehardt: It was like Vietnam had somehow come all the way into our living rooms
Vivian Rothstein: What? Meet separately with women?
They Slept At Our House
Paul Warnke: We fought for a separate South Vietnam, but there wasn't any South
Part Four: The Turning Point (1968-70)
Tran Van Tan: He asked me for directions to the police sensations
Barry Zorthian: Then-boom!-Tet comes along
Philip Jones Griffiths (II): You're not safe in those cities
Nguyen Qui Duc: I was living a double life
Bob Gabriel: We buried our own men right there
Tuan Van Ban: Attack! Attack! Attack!
Memorial Day 1968
Clark Dougan: He Was Only 19-Did You Know Him?
From Johnson to Nixon
John Gilligan: Our only shot was to help Humphrey break away from Johnson
Peter Kuznick: Political conversion was the greatest ahprodisiac
J. Shaeffer: The Palace Guard
Samuel Huntington: You had to be pretty stupid to stay out in the countryside
Douglas Kinnard: While we had the power, it turned out they had the will
A Three-Square-Mile Piece of the United States
Tom O'Hara: It was like being in a minimum-security prison
Familes At War
John Douglas Marshal: You will not be welcome here again
Huynh Phuong Dong: Recieving a letter was a mixed blessing
Richard Houser: They told me I needed to choose between my country and my brother
Nathan Houser: A sign this country has grown up will be when there is a memorial erected to the war resisters
Suzie Scott: This nice young man from the FBI was here
Lam Van Lich: I was away from home for twenty-nine years
Larry Colburn: They were butchering people
Michael Bernhardt: The portable fire-free zone
You Look Like a Gook
Vincent Okamoto: Damn, I'm a Gook
Wayne Smith: I was thinking God they didn't have air support
Charley Trujillo: It sure as hell wasn't 'English only' in Vietnam
An Acute Lack of Forgetfulness
Gloria Emerson: Before the war, I was Miss Mary Poppins
Nguyen Ngoc Luong: To get their ID cards, the girls had to go to bed with the police
From Cambodia to Kent State
Anthony Lake: Quitting wasn't heroic
A.J. Langguth: I think they pictured it as a kind of huge bamboo Pentagon
Tom Grace: As much as we hated the war on April 29, we hated it more on April 30
Part Five: Endings (1970-75)
The End of the Tunnel
Alexander M. Haig Jr.: Even the tough guys...caved in
Morton Halerin: Kissenger did not trust anybody fully
Judith Coburn: Vietnamization wasn't working any better than Americanization
We Really Believes...
Beverly Gologorsky: God forbid my boss finds out I'm here
Nguyen Ngoc Bich: Why should my son die for your country?
Chalmers Johnson: The campus was turning into a celebration of Maoism
Steve Sherlock: Steve Sherlock, bronze star with a V.
Daniel Ellsberg: We're eating our young
Egil "Bud" Krogh: Let's circle the wagons
The World Was Coming to An End
Frank Maguire: The whole attitude was, stand back little brother, I'll take care of it
Charles Cooper (II): All this area was Indian country
Everybody Thought We'd Won the War
Charles Hill: Reporters just kept writing as if it were Tet
Daniel Davidson: I wouldn't buy a used car from that man
Nguyen Thi Binh: The longest peace talks in history
Nguyen Khac Huynh: It wasn't a mistake, it was an inexplicable crime
Prisoners of War (II)
Jay Scarborough: I read Anthony Adverse about four times
Tran Ngoc Chau: The curriculum was designed to detoxicate us
John McCain: Americans like conspiracies
Patty and Earl Hopper Sr.: What mushroom do they think we were hatched under last week?
Gloria Coppin: The government wanted to control the POW/MIA movement
Frank Snepp: There was classified confetti all over the trees
Troung Tran: We could either lose or tie, but not win
The Merriment was Short-Lived
Le Minh Khue: The letters remain, but the senders are gone forever
Part Six: Legacies (1975- )
Missing In Action
Tran Van Ban: We saw so many parents crying for their lost children
Tom Corey: Why do you hate the Vietnamese?
Tran Luong: I never got there in time to capture an American pilot
Bong Macdoran: It's not worth my energy to lay blame on anybody
Luong Ung: People just disappeared and you didn't say anything
Toshio Whelchel: i didn't her to worry, so I lied
R. Huynh: Your real self was only for you
Jayne Stancavage: I just want to know what happened
Hoang Van Thiet: They bought Zippos as a kind of birth certificate
Leroy V. Quintana: Old geezers...playing taps on a tape recorder
William Westmoreland: I was leading an unpopular war
Thai Dao: The first time I ever encountered the Vietnam War was in Hollywood movies
Tim O'Brien: You can't talk with people you demonize
Huu Ngoc: We no longer hate the Americans
Wayne Karlin: The roof that hasn't been built
Duong Tuong: Because love is stronger than enmity