Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War


Just as the Vietnam War presented the United States with a series of challenges, it presents a unique challenge to teachers at all levels. The war had a deep and lasting impact on American culture, politics, and foreign policy. Still fraught with controversy, this crucial chapter of the American experience is as rich in teachable moments as it is riddled with potential pitfalls—especially for students a generation or more removed from the events themselves.
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Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War

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Just as the Vietnam War presented the United States with a series of challenges, it presents a unique challenge to teachers at all levels. The war had a deep and lasting impact on American culture, politics, and foreign policy. Still fraught with controversy, this crucial chapter of the American experience is as rich in teachable moments as it is riddled with potential pitfalls—especially for students a generation or more removed from the events themselves.
            Addressing this challenge, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War offers a wealth of resources for teachers at the secondary and university levels. An introductory section features essays by eminent Vietnam War scholars George Herring and Marilyn Young, who reflect on teaching developments since their first pioneering classes on the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. A methods section includes essays that address specific methods and materials and discuss the use of music and film, the White House tapes, oral histories, the Internet, and other multimedia to infuse fresh and innovative dimensions to teaching the war. A topical section offers essays that highlight creative and effective ways to teach important topics, drawing on recently available primary sources and exploring the war's most critical aspects—the Cold War, decolonization, Vietnamese perspectives, the French in Vietnam, the role of the Hmong, and the Tet Offensive. Every essay in the volume offers classroom-tested pedagogical strategies and detailed practical advice.
            Taken as a whole, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War will help teachers at all levels navigate through cultural touchstones, myths, political debates, and the myriad trouble spots enmeshed within the national memory of one of the most significant moments in American history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This collection makes good on what it sets out to do: help high school and college teachers think about understanding and teaching the Vietnam War in new and innovative ways. There is a clear need for this kind of hands-on volume."—Mark Philip Bradley, author of Vietnam at War

"An excellent one-stop shop for nonspecialists who regularly find themselves teaching about the Vietnam War."—David Herzberg, State University of New York at Buffalo

Library Journal
★ 10/01/2013
History teachers know how difficult it is to cover an enormous and complex topic such as the Vietnam War, especially in a survey course. Thankfully, editors Tully (history, Central Connecticut State Univ.; Ireland and Irish Americans, 1932–1945), Matthew Masur (history, Saint Anselm Coll.), and Brad Austin (history, Salem State Univ.) have compiled a collection of 18 useful essays, written by scholars and teachers from various backgrounds, to assist with the challenge. Readers will find essays that give ideas on how to use sources such as presidential recordings, popular music, films, and works of fiction to reach students. Other essays introduce strategies for teaching difficult or often neglected topics such as the Tet Offensive, the antiwar movement, the role of the Hmong, and Vietnamese perspectives. VERDICT This valuable read will serve as a practical resource for teachers of the Vietnam War at the high school or undergraduate level. Suggestions for assignments and prompts for class discussions will prove especially helpful. Librarians will also find this book useful for both collection development on the war and for ideas about resources to add to particular subject guides.—JW
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299294144
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 8/26/2013
  • Series: The Harvey Goldberg Series Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 362
  • Sales rank: 664,903
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Day Tully is an associate professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and was the founding director of the Harvey Goldberg Program for Excellence in Teaching at the Ohio State University. Matthew Masur is an associate professor of history at Saint Anselm College, where he is codirector of the Father Peter Guerin Center for Teaching Excellence. He is a member of the Teaching Committee of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and writes on American-Vietnamese relations. Brad Austin is a professor of history at Salem State University. He has served as chair of the American Historical Association's Teaching Prize Committee and has worked with hundreds of secondary teachers as the academic coordinator of many Teaching American History grants.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Key Questions and Enduring Debates
John Day Tully, Matthew Masur, and Brad Austin
Part 1. Reflections on Teaching the Vietnam War
1. Teaching the Vietnam War: A Life History
Marilyn B. Young
2. Teaching the Vietnam War: Recollections and Reflections from More than Thirty Years
George C. Herring
Part 2. Methods and Sources
3. Putting Students in "Their Shoes": A Decision-Making Approach
Kevin O'Reilly
4. Understanding the Vietnam Era through Music
Hugo A. Keesing
5. "We Must Bear a Good Deal of Responsibility for It": The White House Tapes and the War in Vietnam
Mitchell B. Lerner
6. Movies and the Vietnam War
Scott Laderman
7. The Books We Carry: Teaching the Vietnam War through Literature
Maureen Ryan
8. Teaching the Vietnam War in the Internet Age: Libraries, Websites, and Information Literacy
Richard Hume Werking and Brian C. Etheridge
9. Hearts, Minds, and Voices: The Vietnam War and Oral History
Andrew Darien
Part 3. Understanding and Teaching Specific Content
10. Nationalism, Communism, and the Vietnam War
Matthew Masur
11. From the French to the Americans
Kathryn C. Statler
12. Teaching the Antiwar Movement: Confronting Popular Myths, Teaching Complexity
David Steigerwald
13. The Vietnamese Sides of the 'American' War
Tuan Hoang
14. "America's Most Loyal Allies": The Hmong and the War
Chia Youyee Vang,
15. Vietnamese Americans in the Context of the Vietnam War
Karín Aguilar-San Juan
16. The Tet Offensive in the Classroom
Andrew Wiest
17. Teaching the Collective Memory and Lessons of the Vietnam War
David Ryan and David Fitzgerald
18. Teaching the Vietnam War in Secondary Schools and Survey Classrooms
Stephen Armstrong
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