The International History of the Vietnam Wars - HI7002

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 60 (30)







The course explores the causes, conduct and consequences of the French and American wars in Vietnam. The course begins in the aftermath of the Second World War with the French Indochina War and charts the United States' growing concern with the region, the Americanisation of the war in Vietnam under President Johnson and eventual disengagement under President Nixon. In addition to placing the conflicts in their regional and international contexts, the course will consider the military strategies implemented in the field and the domestic challenges inherent to fighting a "limited war". The second part of the course focuses on the domestic aspects of the American war including the role of the media, the evolution of the anti-war movement and civil-military tensions. In addition to acquiring substantive knowledge, students will practice core skills, including accessing and critically assessing primary sources, communicating effectively orally and in their written work as well as working in groups.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 80
Total private study hours: 520
Total module study hours: 600

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (3,000 words): 8%
Essay 2 (3,000 words): 8%
Primary source analysis exercise (3,000 words): 8%
Book review (1,000 words): 8%
Group work and presentation (in-class group work, 10-minute oral presentation and self-reflection exercise): 8%
Examination 1 (2 hours, source analysis): 30%
Examination 2 (2 hours, essay-based): 30%

Indicative reading

Basha i Novosejt, Aurélie. I Made Mistakes: Robert McNamara's Vietnam Policy. (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
Gaddis, John L. Strategies of containment: a critical appraisal of American national security policy during the Cold War. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Herring, George C. America's Longest War: the United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 4th ed. (New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2001).
Logevall, Fredrik. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam (New York, NY: Random House, 2012).
McMaster, H.R. Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam (New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1997).
McNamara, Robert S. and Brian VanDeMark. In Retrospect: the tragedy and lessons of Vietnam. (New York, NY: Times Books, 1995).
Nguyen, Lien Hang. Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999).
Stewart, Geoffrey C. Vietnam’s Lost Revolution: Ngo Dinh Diem’s Failure to Build an Independent Nation, 1955-1963. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Young, Marilyn B. The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990. (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1991).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

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