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Spring 2022 Advanced Programs - Advanced Programs Face to Face or Virtual - History

[HIST 6400] Seminar in American History - 103

David Levy

Course Description

Seminar in American History: American Experience in Vietnam

This course will explore how America became involved in Vietnam and the political, diplomatic, intellectual, military, and moral results of that involvement. We will focus on American policy - what assumptions and political factors led to its formulation, how the policy was defended and attacked by Americans at home, and what were the consequences of our course of action for the American people.

Class Dates, Format, Location and Hours

Dates:March 28 – April 3, 2022
Format: Face to Face
Location:Bldg. 90220, 221 Lukasik Ave
Hurlburt Field, Florida
Hours:Monday - Friday 6:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.;
Saturday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Last day to enroll or drop without penalty: February 27, 2022

Site Director

Name: Javier Ruiz
DSN and CIV phone:850-581-3000

Professor Contact Information

Course Professor:David W. Levy, Ph.D.
Mailing Address:Department of History
University of Oklahoma
DAHT #403A
455 West Lindsey St.
Norman, OK 73019-0535
Telephone Number:(405) 325-6002 Dept. office
(405) 210-3565 Cell
Professor availability:The professor will be available via e-mail to students before and after the class sessions. On-site office hours are half an hour before and after each class session, by appointment.

Textbook(s) and Instructional Materials

Student materials are available at the OU Bookstore Website at The website has book selling, renting, buying, returning, and order tracking capabilities. If you need help with an order, or if you have any questions contact the toll-free phone at 1-(855)-790-6637, agents are available from 9a – 5p (EST) Monday – Friday. Text prices are available online.

America Longest War: the United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975
America Longest War: the United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975
by Herring, George
Published by McGraw-Hill Companies, The
ISBN: 9780073513256
The Things They Carried A Work of Fiction
The Things They Carried A Work of Fiction
by Tim O'Brien
Published by Mariner Books
ISBN: 9780618706419
Working-Class War American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
Working-Class War American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
by Christian G. Appy
Published by Univ of North Carolina Pr
ISBN: 9780807843918

Course Objectives

The object of this course is to learn about the history of the American involvement in Vietnam. It is also hoped that the Vietnam experience can serve as a “case study” and that students will emerge with a better understanding of the processes and the pressures that come into play when a nation sets out to make and implement foreign policy in a complex world. Another objective in this course, as in any other, is to improve the writing, reasoning, and analytical skills of the participants.

Course Outline

Assignments, Grading and Due Dates

The grade in this course will be given on the basis of the following five components:


There will be a pre-course writing assignment that will count for 20% of the grade. This is the assignment:

Write a three- to five-page paper in which you defend any one of the following statements:

a.      George Herring’s book, America’s Longest War, is biased on the “conservative” side—that is, it is too supportive of American policy in Vietnam, too “hawkish” (pro-war), and too sympathetic to American purposes and actions in Vietnam.

b.      George Herring’s book, America’s Longest War, is biased on the “liberal” side—that is, it is too critical of American policy in Vietnam, too “dovish” (anti-war), and too unsympathetic to American purposes and actions in Vietnam.

c.      George Herring’s book, America’s Longest War, is, on the whole, balanced and objective—that is, it tries to be even-handed and fair to all shades of opinion and is not biased in any particular direction.

This pre-course assignment (obviously) is designed to require students to read Herring’s account of the Vietnam experience with some care, but also with detachment and in a critical spirit, to “judge” his work as a historian and not to merely accept his judgments as being “true” and beyond questioning.


In this paper, students should support their arguments with examples from Herring’s book, with close analysis of his arguments and the language he uses to make his case, with speculation about other ways of looking at things, etc.


The paper should be well written—understandable, concise, carefully argued. It should avoid jargon and strive for directness and clarity of expression. It should also be correct—obeying the normal rules of paragraphing, punctuation, spelling, etc. If documentation is used, any commonly accepted form of notation (footnotes, parentheses in the text, endnotes) will be satisfactory—as long as the same form is used consistently through the paper and the reader will be able to check quotations used in the paper, for accuracy and context. The paper will be collected at the first session of the class.


There will be a short quiz given over the three required texts. This quiz will be objective and will require students to demonstrate that they have read and understood the three books. The questions will concentrate entirely on the contents of the books and will not involve interpretation or analysis—probing these deeper aspects of the books will take place in our class discussion of them. About a third of the available points will come from each of the books. The questions will be in the form of multiple choice or short essay answers and it should require no more than half an hour of class time. This quiz will be worth 20% of the final grade.


There will be a final examination in this course, given on the last day. It will be designed to last for two hours and it will be entirely in the essay format. In it students will be expected to demonstrate a thoughtful and analytical synthesis of all the materials of the course—readings, lectures, class discussions. There will be some choice given on the final exam (two out of three questions, or three out of four). The final examination will be worth 20% of the final grade.


The professor will attempt to make some evaluation of the quality of each student’s participation in discussions—the premium will be placed not on the mere “quantity” of the talk, but on the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and helpfulness of contributions to class discussions. This evaluation will count for 20% of the final grade.


There will be a post-seminar reading assignment designed both to enhance the course objectives and to permit students to pursue their own interests relating to the topic of the course. This assignment will require each student to read three additional books (that is, books other than the three required texts by Herring, Appy, and O’Brien). Each student is perfectly free to choose his or her three from the following list, basing the choice on each one’s own concerns. 

  • Anderson, Terry H., The Movement and the Sixties (1995). General look at 1960s protest–not only Vietnam.
  • Baker, M., NAM: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Soldiers Who Fought There (1983).  Eyewitness accounts and reminiscences by fighting men.
  • Baritz, Loren, Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did (1985).
  • Becker, Elizabeth, You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War (2021). Pioneering female journalists in Vn.
  • Berman, William, William Fulbright and the Vietnam War: The Dissent of a Political Realist (1988). A study of one of the leading senatorial doves.
  • Berman, Larry, Planning a Tragedy: The Americanization of the War in Vietnam (1982). A look at the debate in the Johnson administration, leading to major commitment, 1965.
  • Bourne, Peter G., Men, Stress, and Vietnam (1970).  Early attempt to diagnose problems in the army.
  • Boyle, Richard, The Flower of the Dragon: The Breakdown of the U.S. Army in Vietnam (1972).
  • Braestrup, Peter, Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington (1977).  Massive two-volume review of reportage on Tet.
  • Brende, J. and E. Parson, Vietnam Veterans: The Road to Recovery (1985).
  • Buttinger, Joseph, The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam (1958). Pioneer writer on Vietnam in the English language–his account, written before American involvement.
  • Buttinger, Joseph, A Dragon Defiant: A Short History of Vietnam (1972). A shorter version of his scholarship.
  • Caputo, Philip, A Rumor of War (1977). Famous account of a marine who went to Vietnam and became disillusioned.
  • Carter, James, Inventing Vietnam: The U.S. and State Building, 1954-1968 (2008). How we tried to create a country.
  • Clergy and Layman Concerned about Vietnam, In the Name of America: The Conduct of the War in Vietnam by the Armed Forces of the United States (1968). Atrocity stories gathered by a prominent antiwar group.
  • Cohen, Warren, Dean Rusk (1980). Leading biography of the Secretary of State.
  • Del Vecchio, John M., The 13th Valley (1982).  Novel of the war.
  • Dietz, Terry, Republicans and Vietnam, 1961-1968 (1986). How one political party responded to the war–but only up to the election of Nixon.
  • Duffett, John, ed., Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the International War Crimes Tribunal (1970). Atrocity stories.
  • Duiker, William, The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam (1981). Leading scholar traces how the Communists defeated their rivals and took over.
  • Duiker, William, Ho Chi Minh (2000).  By far, the best biography of him.
  • Ehrhart, E.D., ed., Carrying the Darkness: American Indochina–the Poetry of the Vietnam War (1985). An anthology of Vietnam poetry.
  • Fall, Bernard, Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu (1966). Account of the battle from the legendary French reporter.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances, Fire in the Lake (1972).  Early and classic account of the clash of cultures in Vietnam by a pioneering woman reporter on the scene.
  • Gardner, Lloyd C., Approaching Vietnam: From World War II through Dienbienphu (1988). A standard account of how we got into the war.
  • Giap, Vo Nguyen, Dien Bien Phu (2000).  Account of the battle by the winning North Vietnamese general.
  • Gibson, James William, The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam (1986). How sophisticated American technology got in the way.
  • Gitlin, Todd, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (1987). An account by a leading radical.
  • Goscha, Christopher, Vietnam: A New History (2016). Highly praised survey of the country’s hisory.
  • Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (1972).  Massive and classic account of the brains around Kennedy and Johnson.
  • Hallin, Daniel C., The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam (1986).
  • Halstead, Fred, Out Now! A Participant’s Account of the American Movement Against the Vietnam War (1978).
  • Hammer, Ellen J., A Death in November: America in Vietnam, 1963 (1987).  The end of Diem.
  • Hayslip, Le Ly, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (1989). Acclaimed account of the experiences of a young Vietnamese woman abused by both sides.
  • Heinemann, Larry, Close Quarters (1977). Novel of the war.
  • Heinemann, Larry, Paco’s Story (1986). Novel of the war.
  • Herr, Michael, Dispatches (1978). A literary classic–an eyewitness account of the battle for Hue, 1968.
  • Hess, Gary, Vietnam: Explaining America’s Lost War (2009). Expert’s review of the main, lingering questions about the war.
  • Jennings, Lew, 19 Minutes to Live–Helicopter Combat in Vietnam (2017). Memoir of a pilot.
  • Johns, Andrew L., Vietnam’s Second Front: Domestic Politics, the Republican Party, and the War (2012). New account of Republicans and Vietnam.
  • Kalb, Marvin and Bernard, Kissinger (1984).
  • Kahin, George, McT., Intervention: How American Became Involved in Vietnam. (1986)
  • Kinnard, Douglas, The Certain Trumpet: Maxwell Taylor and the American Experience in Vietnam (1991). An admiring biography of a key player by a former general.
  • Kinnard, Douglas, The War Managers (1977). A general who was there interviews other generals about their perceptions of the war.
  • Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy (1994).
  • Krepinevich, Andrew F., Jr., The Army and Vietnam (1986).
  • Lake, Anthony, ed., The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy (1976).  An early collection of articles by experts on what Vietnam has meant to us.
  • Lanning, Michael Lee and Dan Cragg, Inside the VC and the NVA (1992).
  • Lewy, Guenter, America in Vietnam (1978).  A defense of American policy.
  • Lind, Michael, Vietnam: The Necessary War (1999).  An argument for going into Vietnam.
  • Llittauer, Raphael and Norman Uphoff, eds., The Air War in Vietnam (1972).
  • Logevall, Fredrik, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam (1999).
  • Logevall, Fredrik, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (2012).  Detailed study of the French presence and defeat in Vietnam.
  • Highly acclaimed study–the war could have been avoided.
  • Mahler, Michael D., Ringed in Steel: Armored Cavalry, Vietnam, 1967-01968 (1986).
  • Marr, David G., Vietnamese Anticolonialism, 1885-1925 (1971). Domestic Vietnamese politics.
  • Marr, David G., Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 1920-1945 (1981). A continuation of his study of domestic Vietnamese politics.
  • Mason, Bobbie, In Country (1986). Novel of the war and its aftermath.
  • McMaster, Hugh R., Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam (1997).   Meticulous account of an experienced military man.
  • McNamara, Robert, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995). Second thoughts from the Secretary of Defense.
  • Mersky, Peter B. and Norman Polmar, The Naval Air War in Vietnam, 1965-1975 (1981).
  • Miller, E. Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam (2013). Close look at America’s relations with Diem.
  • Moore, Harold and Joseph Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang, the Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam (1992). One of the best books written on actual combat–a classic.
  • Moyar, Mark. Triumph Foresaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (2002). An enthusiastic revisionist account---Diem was a good leader; we could have done better than we did.
  • Newman, John M., JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power (1992). A critical look at the Kennedy administration and the war.
  • Nguyen, L. T. Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam (2012). A Vietnamese-American looks at the war from the North Vietnam point of view.
  • Nguyen, Viet Thanh, The Committed (2021). Sequel to The Sympathizer.
  • Nguyen, Viet Thanh, The Sympathizer (2016). Brilliant novel–won Pulitzer Prize. 
  • O’Brien, Tim, Going after Cacciato (1978). Novel of the war.
  • O’Brien, Tim, If I Die in a Combat zone: Box Me Up and Send Me Home (1999). Ditto.
  • Ogelsby, Carl, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement (2008). Leading activist, now in his seventies, speaks out.
  • O’Neill, William L., Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960s (1971). Anecdotal look at all aspects of the 1960s, not only Vietnam.
  • Oberdorfer, Don, Tet! (1984). A reporter’s account of the Tet offensive of 1968.
  • Podhoretz, Norman, Why We Were in Vietnam (1982).  A leading conservative intellectual defends the effort.
  • Randolph, S. P. Powerful and Brutal Weapons: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Easter Offensive (2007).  Title describes the book’s focus.
  • Rowe, James N., Five Years to Freedom: The True Story of a Vietnam POW (1984)
  • Schandler, Herbert Y., Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam: The Unmaking of a President (1977)
  • Scott, Wilbur, Vietnam Veterans since the War: The Politics of PTSD, Agent Orange, and the National Memorial.  (1993).
  • Shawcross, William, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia (1979).
  • Sheehan, Neil, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988). Pulitzer Prize biography of a remarkable person.
  • Small, Melvin, Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves (1988). A study of whether or not the antiwar movement actually affected American policy.
  • Summers, Harry G., On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (1982). Criticism on Vietnam strategy by an army colonel.
  • Taylor, Maxwell, Swords and Plowshares (1972). His version of events.
  • Terry, Wallace, Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984). 
  • Turner, Kathleen, Lyndon Johnson’s Dual War: Vietnam and the Press (1985).
  • Unger, Irwin, The Movement: A History of the American New Left, 1959-1972 (1974).
  • Vogelgesang, Sandy, The Long Dark Night of the Soul: The American Intellectual Left and the Vietnam War (1974)
  • Wells, Tom, The War Within: America’s Battle over Vietnam (1994). Scholarly examination of the antiwar movement.
  • Westheider, James E., African American Experience in Vietnam: Brothers in Arms (2008).
  • Westmoreland, William C., A Soldier Reports (1976). His side of the war.
  • Zaroulis, Nancy and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up? American Protest against the War in Vietnam, 1963-1975 (1984). Sympathetic anecdotal account of the antiwar movement.

If a student wishes to substitute a book of his or her own for one of the books on the above list (no more than one), please check with me in advance. I will be sympathetic to a proposed substitution, but will also want to assure myself that the book being proposed meets accepted academic standards.

Each student will write a short (roughly two pages, double-spaced) report on each of the three books.  Each of these three reports should consist of two unequal parts. The first third (or so) of each report should explain what the author attempts to accomplish in the book–what are the main topics, the principal themes and ideas, the central arguments, etc. In short, the first third of the report should constitute proof that the student has read the book carefully and understands its contents and point of view. The second two-thirds (or so) of the report should consist of the student’s thoughtful evaluation of the book–its strongest and weakest points, the competency of its research, whether or not it is biased one way or another, what questions it raises but doesn’t answer, how it compares to other views the student may have encountered, etc. In short, the second two-thirds of each of these reports should constitute proof that the student has thought carefully and hard about the book and is prepared to make critical judgments about its quality. This aspect of the course will count for 20% of the final grade.

These reports should be in the professor’s hands any time before April 19, 2022; the sooner the better. 


This is a letter-graded course: A, B, C, D, or F. 

AssignmentDue DatePercent of Grade
Pre-course assignmentFirst class session20
Quiz over Herring and AppyThird class session20
Final ExaminationLast class session20
Class ParticipationDuring class sessions20
Post-Seminar AssignmentApril 19, 202220

Incomplete Grade Policy

Notice: Failure to meet assignment due dates could result in a grade of I (Incomplete) and may adversely impact Tuition Assistance and/or Financial Aid.


Attendance/Grade Policy

Attendance and participation in interaction, individual assignments, group exercises, simulations, role playing, etc. are valuable aspects of any course because much of the learning comes from discussions in class with other students. It is expected that you attend all classes and be on time except for excused emergencies.

Excused absences are given for professor mandated activities or legally required activities such as emergencies or military assignments. It is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. Unavoidable personal emergencies, including (but not limited to) serious illness; delays in getting to class because of accidents, etc.; deaths and funerals, and hazardous road conditions will be excused.

If you are obtaining financial assistance (TA, STAP, FA, VA, Scholarship, etc.) to pay all or part of your tuition cost, you must follow your funding agency/institution’s policy regarding “I” (Incomplete) grades unless the timeline is longer than what the University policy allows then you must adhere to the University policy. Students who receive Financial Aid must resolve/complete any “I” (Incomplete) grades by the end of the term or he/she may be placed on “financial aid probation.” If the “I” grade is not resolved/completed by the end of the following term, the student’s Financial Aid may be suspended make the student ineligible for further Financial Aid.

Students are responsible for meeting the guidelines of Tuition Assistance and Veterans Assistance. See the education counselor at your local education center for a complete description of your TA or VA requirements.

OU faculty will submit grades online through ONE not later than 30 days after the course end date. Course end dates are approximately one calendar month after the final seminar date on this syllabus and are provided on the official scheduling website for reference.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct 

Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.

Academic misconduct is any act which improperly affects the evaluation of a student’s academic performance or achievement. Misconduct occurs when the student either knows or reasonably should know that the act constitutes misconduct. Academic misconduct includes: cheating and using unauthorized materials on examinations and other assignments; improper collaboration, submitting the same assignment for different classes (self-plagiarism); fabrication, forgery, alteration of documents, lying, etc…in order to obtain an academic advantage; assisting others in academic misconduct; attempting to commit academic misconduct; destruction of property, hacking, etc…; intimidation and interference with integrity process; and plagiarism. All students should review the Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity at 

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. All students should review policies regarding student conduct at 

Accommodation Statement

The University of Oklahoma is committed to making its activities as accessible as possible. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please contact your local OU Site Director.

Adjustment for Pregnancy/Childbirth-Related Issues

Should you need modifications or adjustments to your course requirements because of documented pregnancy-related or childbirth-related issues, please contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss. Generally, modifications will be made where medically necessary and similar in scope to accommodations based on temporary disability. Please see

Title IX Resources

For any concerns regarding gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence, the University offers a variety of resources, including advocates on-call 24/7, counseling services, mutual no-contact orders, scheduling adjustments, and disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator. Please contact the Sexual Misconduct Office at or (405) 325-2215 (8-5), or the Sexual Assault Response Team at (405) 615 -0013 (24/7) to report an incident. To learn more about Title IX, please visit the Institutional Equity Office’s website at 

Course Policies

Extended Campus (also and formerly known as Advanced Programs) policy is to order books in paperback if available. Courses, dates, and professors are subject to change. Please check with your OU Site Director. Students should retain a copy of any assignments that are e/mailed to the professor for the course. Neither duplicating services nor office supplies are provided.

Any and all course materials, syllabus, lessons, lectures, etc. are the property of professor teaching the course and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and are protected under applicable copyright.

For more information about OU Extended Campus, visit our website at:

Statement on Respect

The classroom should provide a safe learning environment where students can express their views without fear of reprisal. That freedom of expression must be balanced by demonstrated respect for other’s viewpoints and appropriate and reasonable sensitivity, especially within the context of scholarly disagreement.  Disrespectful or uncivil dialogue (including, but not limited to, personal attacks, insults, or harassment) will not be tolerated.

Recording Devices/Phones/Computers

It is important for students to be fully present during class to fully benefit from lectures, discussions, and experiential assignments. Class sessions may not be tape-recorded. All telephones and pagers should be turned off or placed on silent mode. Computers may not be used during class. Students who require an exception to this policy should discuss exceptional circumstances with the professor.


David W. Levy, Ph. D.


  • 1959   B.A., University of Illinois
  • 1961   M.A., University of Chicago
  • 1967   Ph.D., University of Wisconsin

Current Positions

  • Advanced Programs Professor since 2000
  • David Ross Boyd Professor of American History, The University of Oklahoma, Emeritus
  • Irene and Julian J Rothbaum Professor or Modern History, Emeritus

Major Areas of Teaching and Research Interest

  • American intellectual history
  • The progressive movement
  • American legal history
  • Vietnam
  • History of The University of Oklahoma

Representative Publications and Presentations

  • Herbert Croly of the New Republic: The Life and Thought of an American Progressive (Princeton University Press, 1985)
  • FDR’s Fireside Chats (Penguin Books, 1994)
  • The Debate Over Vietnam (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd ed., 1995)
  • The Letters of Louis D. Brandeis (5 vols.; State University of New York Press, 1972-78)
  • The University of Oklahoma: A History, Vol. 1 (1890-1917) (OU Press, 2005)
  • Mark Twain: The Divided Mind of America’s Best-Loved Writer (Prentice Hall, 2010)
  • The University of Oklahoma: A History, Vol. 2 (1917-1950) (OU Press, 2014)
  • Around fifty articles in various scholarly and popular journals, encyclopedias, etc.

Representative Honors and Awards Received

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • AMOCO Distinguished Teaching Award (1971)
  • Regents Award for Superior Teaching (1973)
  • University of Oklahoma Students’ Award for Best Teacher on the Campus, 1985
  • University of Oklahoma Students’ Award for Best Teacher in the College of Arts and Sciences (1995)
  • Various research grants
  • State of Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame (2006)