History 3322, The Vietnam War [DE]

Bob Buzzanco
AH 557
713.743.3216 [fax]
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/buzzmat/buzzanco.htm [click on Viet Nam War link]
Office Hours: By appointment

Grader:  Katie Pierce

Welcome to History 3322, the history of the Vietnamese War.  This course is designed to be a lecture course focusing on the prominent developments in twentieth-century Vietnam and the United States intervention there.  We will also use readings, discussions, and video presentations to supplement the class lectures.  During the course of the semester we will examine the fundamental issues in history of Vietnam and the American involvement in its civil war-cum-revolution, including, but not limited to: the emergence of Vietnamese nationalism and Communism and the rise of Ho Chi Minh; the battles against French colonialism and Japanese occupation; putative independence and the 1st Indochina War; the initial American commitment to French-occupied Vietnam; the Diem regime in the late 1950s; the Kennedy and Johnson escalations; the debate over U.S. intervention; the American air war; division within the military over strategy; the Nixon approach; widening the war into Cambodia; the "search" for peace; the final offensives; the antiwar movement and the media; the POW and MIA issues; and Vietnam since 1975.  By the end of the semester, each student should have a basic and working knowledge of the Vietnamese war.


The following books will be required for this course.  They should be available in the campus bookstore.  Most are also available from many of the web-based booksellers.

Robert Buzzanco, Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life  [online, click here]
Bob Buzzanco, editor, Vietnam and America: Readings and Documents [referred to below as "Reader"],
    and Graham Greene, The Quiet American [packaged together]

William Duiker, Sacred War
Bruce Franklin, M.I.A., or Mythmaking in America


Your grade in this class will be based on two exams, one in the middle of the semester and one at the end, as well as a short take-home assignment.   These will be essay tests and study questions are posted on the web page.  If you miss an exam, I will give a make up after the last class at a date and time that will be announced on the email list and web page, and you must take it at that time.

Once a room and time for the exams are scheduled I will notify you via our email discussion list and I will post it on the web site.  Please check the web page for this information.

E-mail Discussion List:

Students enrolled in the class will be required to sign up for and participate in an email discussion list specifically established for this course!!!!!!!  On it, I will periodically post questions or comments for discussion or forward relevant items to you.  Students are expected to participate by responding to queries or comments posted by me or by others enrolled in the class.  To sign up for this list, go to vietnamclass-subscribe@yahoogroups.com    and send an email.  You will receive a confirmation email and all you have to do is hit "reply" and you'll be signed up.

Web Page:

I have created a web page to supplement materials we discuss and read.  On the web page are links to many other sites about Vietnam and other relevant topics.  I will also post information relevant to the class on the site, including the syllabus and study questions.  Feel free to send along sites to link up to or suggestions for improvement.  I will update this web page as often as needed so please check it on a regular basis.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1

Introduction to the Course
Background: Vietnamese Nationalism and Resistance
European Colonialism in Indochina

Duiker, chapters 1-2
Reader, pages 283-316, 5-14
Greene, The Quiet American

Week 2

The Emergence of Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese Communism
Background: U.S. Foreign Policy in the 20th Century

Duiker, chapter 3
Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, chapter 1

Week 3

The Cold War and 3d World Nationalism
Origins of the U.S. Commitment to Vietnam
The First Indochina War
Building the Insurgency in the South
The Diem Regime

<>Duiker, chapter 4
Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, chapter 2
Reader, pages 15-42, 317-22, 331-36

Week 4

"Let the Word Go Forth": JFK and Vietnam
The Establishment of the NLF
American Credibility

Duiker, chapter 5
Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, Chapter 3
Reader, pages 375-82

Week 5

LBJ Takes Over
From Tonkin to Pleiku
Air War and Ground Troops
The "Americanization" of Vietnam
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Reader, pages 43-116

Week 6

Strategy and Dissent
The Wider War–the Chinese and Soviet Roles
Protest and Division at Home

Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, chapters 5-6
Reader, 117-134, 179-230, 337-48, 383-404

Week 7

Breakdown: Tet and its Aftermath
Global Crisis
The War and the Movements of the 1960s

Duiker, chapter 6
Reader, pages 405-8
Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, chapters 7-8

Week 8

Nixon and "Vietnamization"
"Pitiful Helpless Giant?"  Cambodia and Kent State
Destroying Indochina to Save It
Playing the China [and Soviet] Card

Reader, pages 135-78, 231-72, 369-74, 409-12

Week 9

Fighting and Talking
Laos and Cambodia
Easter Offensive and Christmas Bombings
War is Over (If You Want It)

Buzzanco, Vietnam and Transformation, chapter 4

Week 10

Soldiers in Vietnam
Working-class Army
Race and Drugs
Dissent within the Service
My Lai

Reader, 349-62

Week 11

Vietnamese Society in Wartime
The Final Offensives
The "Great Spring Victory"

Reader, pages 273-82, 363-68

Week 12

The American Legacy
The POW Myth
Keeping the War Alive
Making Peace with Vietnam

Franklin, M.I.A., or Mythmaking in America

Week 13

Vietnam After the War
The Third Indochina War
Vietnam and American Culture
Music and Movies
The Crazed Vet Stereotypes

Final Exam.  Date and place to be scheduled

Makeup Exam Date–date and place to be announced

Please check web page for further information.