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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 318
Course Title: The U.S. and the Vietnam War
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of American involvement in the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975. The events of the armed conflict are placed in a multiplicity of contexts to reveal political, diplomatic, military, social and economic factors. This course considers the deployment of armed forces in addition to the impact of the peace movement. Significant attention is given to the challenges of the Cold War, the dynamics of popular culture, and the fall of South Vietnam. Prerequisite: HIST 122.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): HIST 122.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Occasional offering.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

One of the primary source texts must be assigned and supplemented with at least two secondary source texts.  Additional primary and secondary sources may be assigned as well.

Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War
By Robert McMahon and Thomas Patterson (Houghton-Mifflin)
Category/Comments - Primary Source
Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam
By James S. Olson and Randy Roberts (Wiley-Blackwell)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam 1950-1975
By George C. Herring (McGraw-Hill)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
The Trajedy of Vietnam
By Patrick J. Heardon (Pearson)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War
By John Prados (University Press of Kansas)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
The Vietnam War: A Documentary Reader
By Edward Miller, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell)
Category/Comments - Primary Source
Antiwarriors: The Vietnam War and the Battle for America’s Hearts and Minds
By Melvin Small (Scholarly Resources)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
By H. R. McMaster (Harper)
Category/Comments - Secondary
Working Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
By Christian G. Appy (University of North Carolina)
Category/Comments - Secondary Source
• Other appropriate scholarly monographs may be assigned.

Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain the evolution of the long struggle between American and communist forces in Vietnam.
  2. Analyze the impact of domestic politics, the peace movement, and the news media on public opinion.
  3. Analyze the consequences of South Vietnam’s collapse.
  4. Describe the impact of the Vietnam War on the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.
  5. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and trends in the historiography of the Vietnam War.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:

Because the course represents an upper level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline.  It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking.  It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., exams, quizzes, papers). The course reading load should be at least 1000 pages; the course writing assignments should total c5000 words. Finally, it must develop student skills and abilities for researching diverse sources of knowledge.

  • Vietnamese history and nationalism
  • American containment policy
  • Geneva Accords
  • Communist insurgency
  • Gulf of Tonkin
  • Gradual escalation
  • Search and destroy
  • Tet
  • Anti-draft and anti-war protests
  • Vietnamization
  • Incursions in Cambodia and Laos
  • Nixon Doctrine
  • Withdrawal
  • Peace Accords
  • Saigon falls
  • Legacies
Culminating Experience Statement:

Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Brad Lookingbill Date: September 1, 2015
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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