HS 420 Vietnam 1954-1979


Extra Help: Tue 3-4 Room 206 or by appointment.

Vietnam 1954-1979

Course Overview

HS 420:   Vietnam 1945-1979                         Spring 2015

Mr Smith   dsmith@innovationcharter.org           Rm 206/Afterschool Tue3-4  



        Link to National Geographic Article "Hanoi: Shedding the Ghosts of War" May 2004 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/features/world/asia/vietnam/hanoi-text


Course Summary:  The origins, causes, conduct and legacy of the Vietnam Wars will be the foundation of this history elective. A major skill in the course will be interpreting history through different perspectives: What was the view of a Vietnamese soldier? Of an American General? Of an anti-war protester?  Music, political cartoons, online exhibits and films will be a featured part of the course.  A second skill is decision making. Students will prepare position papers and debate the historical questions raised in 1964:   Should the Vietnam War be escalated?  What were the different strategies or options at the time?  Finally, you will choose a work of art that evokes and remembers the war, and evaluate the legacy and lessons of the war.  In the final unit, students will choose from these options : create a memorial, conduct an original oral history project, research the war from the Vietnamese perspective or apply  the lessons of Vietnam to modern conflicts.



          Why did the US lose the Vietnam War? Why did the North Vietnamese win?

           How should the Vietnam War be remembered?  What are the lessons/legacy of Vietnam?



The Vietnam Reader, Stewart O’nan; Vietnam’s Unseen War , Hearts and Minds (DVD), Dear America: Letters From Home (Documentary), The Sorrows of War by Bao Ninh, The Vietnam war Remembered from all Sides by Christian Appy







Course Overview- See Course Calendar for Specific Assignment/Project dates




January 2015


Unit I  1945-1964

The First IndoChina War: Vietnam Revolutions


Vietnam: Geography, Culture, Nationalism and French Colonialism

Ho Chi Minh

America & Vietnam:  The Bitter Heritage~Vietnam & American Democracy

 by Arthur Schlesinger  Ch 1-2   ‘How we got there’ and ‘What we did there’


Project/Assessments:    Work Habits/Enduring Understanding

  1. Exam #1:  Key Terms, Essential History, Concepts, Map





    February 2015


    Unit II  1964-1968

    Second IndoChina War: Causes and Decision Making


    EQ:   Should the US escalate the conflict in Vietnam?

              Was the Tet Offensive a turning point in the conflict?



    Project/Assessments:  Research/Enduring Understanding

                        Decision Making: What should be the US Policy in Vietnam ?

                Perspectives:  The Tet Offensive 1968   (News Broadcast)

                Exam #2:   The Conflict 1964-1968

                Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (Book and DVD)









    March-April 2015


    Unit III : The Experience of War   1968-1975


    EQ:          How did the North Vietnamese win the war?  (Why did the US lose)

                    What are the human costs of war?       




    Project/Assessments:  Effective Communication/Enduring Understanding

              Exam #3: History of the War (1968-1975)

                Literature of the War:  Comparing Two Works of Art/Fiction

                            -Vietnamese      The Sorrows of War  by Bao Ninh

                            -American       The Things they Carried (T. O’brien) or Dispatches(Michael Herr)






    April-May 2015


    Unit IV  Legacy and Memory of Vietnam



    EQ:     How should the Vietnam War be remembered?  What are the lessons/legacy of Vietnam?



    Projects/Assessments:  Research-Enduring Understanding

              Independent Research & Presentation: The Legacy of the War (Choice)

  • Memorials: Research and Create a Memorial

  • Oral History: Research and Conduct Original Interview

  • Music/Film:  Study and Analysis of Vietnam Songs[3] or Movie[1]

  • Lessons of Vietnam: The Vietnam Syndrome and US Policy