Appy, Christian G.

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APPY, Christian G.


Married; children: two sons. Education: Amherst College, B.A. (American studies), c. 1970; Harvard University, Ph.D. (History of American Civilization).


Home—11 Walter Griffin Rd., Sharon, MA 02067. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, taught undergraduate history and literature; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, associate professor of history.


Best Dissertation, American Studies Association, for his dissertation on American combat soldiers in the Vietnam War.


(With Thomas V. DiBacco and Lorna C. Mason) History of the United States, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.

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

(Editor and contributor) Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2000.

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


Christian G. Appy began his academic career in the 1970s at Amherst College where he received his B.A. in American studies. There he was inspired by new trends in scholarship that looked at the roles of poor and working-class people throughout history. He went on to Harvard where he received his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization. He wrote his dissertation on American combat soldiers in the Vietnam War which earned him the award for the year's best dissertation from the American Studies Association. Appy continued on at Harvard teaching undergraduate history and literature for four years. He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was an associate professor of history for eight years. He left in 1999 to write full time. He lives in Sharon, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.

Appy's first book, Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, is a continuation of the work he had done on his thesis at Harvard. In this work Appy discusses how nearly eighty percent of those who participated in the Vietnam War came from blue collar families, and explores how wealthier youths were overlooked by draft boards. To compile some of the first hand data for the book Appy attended a Vietnam Veterans group for seven years. G. David Curry of Armed Forces and Society explained, "Working-Class War is a contribution to what has been a slowly, but steadily, building debate about the equity of service in the military and in combat during the Vietnam War." He went on to praise Appy by stating, "The author's ability to weave together the content of his published sources with the words of his interviewees results in an absorbing narrative." John F. Guilmartin Jr. of Reviews in American History found that education was a more important factor than class in deciding who went to Vietnam and believed that "Working-Class War thus stands on shaky assumptions." A reviewer for the Economist concluded, "The flaw of Mr. Appy's chilling story is that he sees nothing to mitigate the undeniable horror of the war." While Murray Polner of Commonweal called the work a "definitive and engrossing study of combat veterans and their economic class."

In his next work, Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, Appy took on the role of editor in this collection of fifteen essays focusing on the United States and the Cold War. Appy included his own essay on Eisenhower and the invasion on Guatemala in the collection. A reviewer for Reference and Research Book News commented, "Appy … brings together the work of political, diplomatic, and cultural historians in order to foster an understanding of the complex interaction between culture and policy." Robert Griffith of Reviews in American History found the book to "deepen and extend our knowledge of the Cold War." John Earl Haynes commended Appy's work as editor in American Historical Review, "Most of the essays are remarkably innovative; some are true eye-openers," and found the book to be "a stimulating and welcome survey of how far cultural studies of U.S. foreign relations have come."

For his next work Appy returned to the familiar topic of Vietnam in Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides. In this oral history Appy presents the viewpoints of 135 vastly different people who were directly effected by the events of Vietnam. He talks with people on both sides of the struggle, from a variety of occupations, diverse in age, power, and prestige. The stories are edited and framed by Appy, but told from each person's point of view. It covers the entire history of the conflict starting in 1945 and ending in 1975. David Myer of Anniston Star wrote, "Simply by telling their stories, Appy's subjects teach truths about Vietnam that transcend the mere historical fact. But by framing their stories in the context of his own subjective history of the conflict, Appy at times suggests conclusions that readers could better reach on their own." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called it "a solid contribution to the primary source background of the longest and most controversial overseas war in American History." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews described it as "An excellent addition to the literature of the Vietnam War, instructive and moving—but also likely to reopen old wounds." Karl Helicher of Library Journal felt that "this superb volume is quite possibly the best in a crowded field."



American Historical Review, April, 2001, John Earl Haynes, review of Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, p. 599.

Armed Forces and Society, summer, 1994, G. David Curry, review of Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam, p.648.

Commonweal, April 23, 1993, Murray Polner, review of Working-Class War, p. 29.

Economist, March 20, 1993, review of Working-Class War, p. 98.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides, p. 514.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Karl Helicher, review of Patriots, p. 133.

Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of Patriots, p. 54.

Reference and Research Book News, August, 2000, review of Cold War Constructions, p. 52.

Reviews in American History, June, 1994, John F. Guilmartin Jr., review of Working-Class War, p. 322; March, 2001, Robert Griffith, "The Cultural Turn in Cold War Studies," pp. 150-157.


Anniston Star, (October 22, 2003), David Myer, "Looking Back at Vietnam, from Varied Angles.", (October 22, 2003), Edward Morris, "A Divisive Conflict Remembered."

Christian G. Appy Home Page, (October 22, 2003).*