HSTS 4220: Vietnam War

Spring 2012

Course Description and Goals:
This course will provide a general overview of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and explore the social, cultural, economic, military, diplomatic, and political aspects of this conflict. We will examine the pertinent facts, concepts, and historical interpretations through the assigned readings, lectures, class discussion, and multimedia presentations. Exams will measure understanding of the aforementioned facts and concepts, writing assignments will help students develop critical-thinking skills, and public presentations will test their ability to communicate these ideas verbally.

James S. Olson and Randy Roberts, Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam, 1945-2006, revised 5/E (Maplecrest, N.Y.: Brandywine Press, 2008).

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, (New York: Random House, 1993).

Melvin Small, Antiwarriors: The Vietnam War and the Battle for America's Hearts and Minds, vol. 1 of Vietnam: America in the War Years, ed. David L. Anderson (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources Inc., 2002).

Exam Policy:
There will be two exams given during the semester—a mid-term and a final. Test questions may include information from class lecture, discussion, multimedia presentations, the textbooks, and other assigned readings. These questions may include any combination of the following formats: essay, short answer, and identification.

Writing Assignments:
There will be three out-of-class writing assignments that make up a substantial portion of your final grade.

1) Each student will write reviews of two of the required texts, which should be submitted via email (scott.billingsley@uncp.edu) according to the course schedule below.  Please consult the instructions for writing book reviews located on the course Blackboard site.

2) Each student will write reviews for one film that addresses some aspect of the Vietnam War. Like the book reviews, these should be submitted via email (scott.billingsley@uncp.edu) according to the course schedule below. A list of films and instructions for writing film reviews are located on the course Blackboard site.

Attendance Policy:
Students are expected to attend class regularly and be on time. You are responsible for getting any information from class lecture and discussion that you might miss due to your absence before the next class meeting. Please consult the section on Class Attendance Policy in the catalog (http://www.uncp.edu/catalog/pdf/acad_pol.pdf) for official University policy.

Make-up Policy:
Students should provide me with an approved written excuse (doctor’s note, jury notice, obituary, etc.) if they must miss an exam.  Make-up exams will be in identification and/or essay formats.  Outside writing assignments must be turned in on the date due; students will lose ten percentage points for each calendar day the assignment is late.

Religious Holiday Policy:
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a legal and moral obligation to accommodate all students who must be absent from classes or miss scheduled exams in order to observe religious holidays; we must be careful not to inhibit or penalize these students for exercising their rights to religious observance.  To accommodate students’ religious holidays, each student will be allowed two excused absences each semester with the following conditions:

  1. Students, who submit written notification to their instructors within two weeks of the beginning of the semester, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith.  Excused absences are limited to two class sessions (days) per semester. 
  2. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up tests or other work missed due to an excused absence for a religious observance.
  3. Students should not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances.  

A student who is to be excused from class for a religious observance is not required to provide a second-party certification of the reason for the absence.  Furthermore, a student who believes that he or she has been unreasonably denied an education benefit due to religious beliefs or practices may seek redress through the student grievance procedure.

Code of Conduct:
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the University’s Code of Conduct outlined in the student handbook (http://www.uncp.edu/sa/handbook/html/rights.htm).  Disruptive behavior in the classroom, including extraneous talking and the use of electronic devices, will not be tolerated and may result in expulsion from the class.

Communication Policy:
Students should check their University email accounts and the Announcements section of the Blackboard site for information about the course. It is the students' responsibility to consult these sources often and be aware of any announcements or revisions to the course schedule.

Students with Documented Disabilities: 
Any student with a documented learning, physical, chronic health, psychological, visual or hearing disability needing academic adjustments is requested to speak directly to Disability Support Services and the instructor as early in the semester as possible (preferably within the first week).  All discussions will remain confidential.  This publication is available in alternative formats upon request.  Please contact Disability Support Services, DF Lowry Building, Room 103 or call 910.521.6695.

Withdrawal from the Course:
The last day you may drop this course with a grade of “W” is Monday March 14, 2012.

Academic Honesty:
Academic misconduct in any form will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to recognize and understand the various types of academic misconduct, including plagiarism. Please consult the Academic Honor Code in the Student Handbook or at UNCP’s Division of Student Affairs website (http://www.uncp.edu/sa/pol_pub/honor_code.htm) for official guidelines regarding the definition and handling of academic misconduct. You may also consult the following website for more information regarding plagiarism:


Grade Notification:
To protect the confidentiality of student records, I will not discuss grades via the telephone or email. Please see me personally or consult Blackboard or Braveweb if you wish to know your grades.

Grading Scale: 
A         94-100
A-        90-93
B+       87-89
B         84-86
B-        80-83
C+       77-79
C         74-76
C-        70-73
D+       67-69
D         64-66
D-        60-63
F          0-59

The following criteria provide the basis for evaluating your exams and papers.
A = Excellent work.  Essays are insightful, coherent, and original.  Exam questions are answered thoroughly, with specific examples and sophisticated interpretation and analysis.
B = Very strong work.  Essays are authoritative but incomplete in their analysis or use of detail.  Exam questions are answered relatively well but with minor deficiencies in organization, coherence, or cogency.
C = Adequate work.  Essays are competent but conventional and may lack specificity or relevance.  Exam questions are answered ably but partially, lacking nuance or detail.
D = Barely passable work.  Essays are incomplete or tangential to crucial issues.  Exam questions are answered with very little detail and almost no analysis.
F = Unacceptable. The quality is not appropriate for university-level work.

Exams: 30%
Book Reviews: 30%
Film Review: 40%

Course Schedule:
January 10-12: Introduction

January 17-19: Vietnam to 1945: Olson and Roberts, Prologue and chapter 1

January 24-26: The First Indochina War, 1945-54: Olson and Roberts, chapter 2

January 31-February 2: Eisenhower and Vietnam, 1954-61: Olson and Roberts, chapter 3

February 7-9: Kennedy and Vietnam, 1961-63: Olson and Roberts, chapter 4
Book review of Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday February 5, 2012.

February 14-16: LBJ Goes to War, 1963-65: Olson and Roberts, chapter 5

February 21-28: Americanization, 1965-68: Olson and Roberts, chapters 6-7

March 1: Midterm Exam

March 13-15: Year of the Monkey, 1968: Olson and Roberts, chapter 8

March 20-22: Vietnamization, 1969-73: Olson and Roberts, chapter 9

March 27-29: Cambodia and Laos, 1969-71: Olson and Roberts, chapters 9 -10

April 3-5: Antiwar Movement: Olson and Roberts, chapter 9
Book review of Melvin Small’s Antiwarriors due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday April 1, 2012.

April 10-12: Peace is at Hand, 1971-73: Olson and Roberts, chapters 9-10

April 17-19: Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75: Olson and Roberts, chapter 10

April 24-26: Legacies and Lessons: Olson and Roberts, chapters 11-12
Film review due by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday April 26, 2012.

May 1: Final Exam (1:30-4:00)

    Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012