History 108: History of the Vietnam War

Explore causes of the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy in Indochina. This course also covers the origins of the National Liberation Front, president Johnson's military strategies, Americans' reaction to the war, conditions of the Paris Peace Accords and more. 

About This Course

Use this course to examine the escalation of U.S. involvement in Indochina into a war that spanned more than a decade. Instructors explain the 'Domino Theory' and cover topics ranging from the birth of the National Liberation Front and leadership changes in South Vietnam to U.S. counter-insurgency strategies and outcomes of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Our experienced educators can also help you sort out the allegiances and political objectives of all parties involved in this conflict. Topics of discussion include:

  • Significance of the First Indochina War
  • The rise of Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem
  • Events leading to U.S. military involvement
  • Changes in U.S. foreign policy over the course of the war
  • Outcomes of North Vietnamese military offensives
  • Tactics employed by the U.S. and Viet Cong armies
  • American response to the war at home

This course breaks down events occurring before, during and after the Vietnam War into manageable chapters that allow you to work through the material at your own pace or quickly and easily access the topics that interest you. Lesson content is available in the form of short, entertaining videos and transcripts. There are also corresponding self-assessment quizzes you can use to affirm your understanding of each lesson's main ideas.

Course Topics

Course Chapter Objectives
Roots of the Vietnam War (1900-1954) Explore the history of Indochina during the first half of the 20th century. Follow the ascendance of Ho Chi Minh and examine the foreign policy of Roosevelt and Truman. Get an overview of the First Indochina War.
Eisenhower Years, 1953-1960 Examine Eisenhower's foreign policy, Ngo Dinh Diem's origins, his relationship with the U.S. and the birth of the Viet Cong.
Kennedy Years, 1961-1963 Learn how Kennedy's advisors helped shape foreign policy during the war's early years. Identify U.S. strategies and discuss the impact of events occurring in 1963, such as Kennedy's assassination.
Lyndon Johnson's War, 1964-1968 Examine the results of the Gulf of Tonkin Crisis. Investigate significant air campaigns as well as Johnson's decision to put troops on the ground. Study the first wave of American dissent. Explore tactics employed by the People's Army of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
Nixon's Years, 1968-1973 Analyze Nixon's plan to withdraw American forces and the secret operations in Cambodia and Laos. Look into the second wave of American dissent, especially in Congress. Follow the negotiations leading to the Paris Peace Accords.
Soldier's War Examine early American engagements, such as the Battle of Ap Bac, Operation Starlite and the Battle of the la Drang Valley. Study the war's only airborne engagement as well as the North Vietnamese's Tet and Easter offensives. Read about the American-led massacre at My Lai.
Post-American Involvement Follow the events leading to the Fall of Saigon. Investigate the Khmer Rouge's genocide in Cambodia and the communist takeover of Laos. Identify the impact of the war on veterans and subsequent U.S. foreign policy.

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