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The Vietnam War

Explore the losses and legacies of the war in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 13.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from SUPURB As a Vietnam Vet I found this course to be excellent, well done, informative, and helpful.
Date published: 2022-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Admirable Course I've read Professor McManus's first two books on the World War II Army in the Pacific and look forward to the final volume of the trilogy. If his preparation of this series has delayed its completion, it was worth it. As a Vietnam veteran, I generally read about the war, allowing me to pace myself since I can still run into problems. But the professor's balanced presentation and his even tone made him good company in this look back, richly detailed within the confines of the course length. I liked the simplicity of the technical presentation, with the lecture titles presented with a little "snow" such as appeared on TV screens of the time and much of the still and film imagery framed by a TV -- this was of course a "television war." I also liked that the professor sat in one place instead of, as in many other courses, pacing between cameras. I will say that the repeat use of the same images to illustrate the lectures seemed unnecessary given how much documentary material exists. It sometimes made the forward movement of the narrative "stutter," as when, most every time war resistance at home was said to ramp up, the same poster, GET THE HELLicopters OUT OF VIETNAM, was shown. I appreciated the respect shown to Vietnamese subjects by spelling out their names as they're spelled in Vietnam. A crossed "d" is pronounced differently than an uncrossed "d." (Professor McManus didn't always get this right orally. He didn't attempt the tones at all, but to make the shift to that sound system in the middle of an English sentence is very very difficult.) Where I had a different impression of something factual, I almost always bowed to his superior knowledge. I will mention, though, that it's not true that medics weren't sent on ambush patrols. I was a medic, and was. I'd recommend this course to people with some knowledge of the war and even more to those with little.
Date published: 2022-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Excellent content and presentation. One of the very best "Great Course" programs I have watched. I highly recommend.
Date published: 2022-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Packed w interesting info, but not 100% riveting I highly recommend this course bc the professor has clearly made great efforts to pack it with a ton of interesting info about the war and the time period. Plus, the lectures included a ton of video clips that really added a lot. Prof McManus was easy to follow and not boring. However, in comparison to some other GC History course I have watched over the years, this one was not quite as riveting. Thus, IMHO, the course is between 4 and 5 IMHO and I rounded up since the content is so good.
Date published: 2022-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Balanced Account of a Tragety I was in and out of the military before Vietnam became a war for the US. I was never anti-war or pro-war, just focused elsewhere. I later became a fan of history. This course is excellent for maintaining a balance. For example, it tells what life was like for the American grunt as well as for the enemy grunt. It explains the difficult decisions leaders on both sides faced and where they made mistakes. The last lecture ends on an upbeat note by outlining how America and Vietnam have gotten past the war and are now allies in many respects.
Date published: 2022-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Real Vietnam Conflict Story Professor John McManus delivers the intimate details of the Vietnam Conflict. The lectures are revealed as though the learner is watching their television set in the 1950's through the 70's at home; just as it had originally been communicated by the prime media members such as Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. Each lecture covers the conflicts evolution from beginning to it humiliating end. The key political and battle field figures from all sides are described in detail and followed through in all appropriate lectures. As the lectures were delivered sequentially, the emotional intensity is expanded. For those who experienced the crisis on the ground first hand, the graphics can be very unnerving. I particularly found Lectures, 10 (American Soldier), 11 (The Vietcong, etc) to be exact. Lectures 18, (Atrocities), and Lecture 23's discussion of the Combat Medic, were outstanding. This is a lecture set I am going to rewatch. Also, the focus on Presidents Johnson and Nixon are excellent. Of the over 660 lecture sets I have enjoyed through The Teaching Company and Wondrium, this is in the top 1%. Enlightening, chilling, and thought provoking. Additionally, Professor McManus delivery style mirrors the television reporters of that time with a straight forward, 'That's the way it is' tone. OUTSTANDING lecture set by an Excellent lecturer. I highly recommend this lecture set.
Date published: 2022-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course! As a Vietnam War veteran with five-plus decades of thorough research and study of the war, I consider Professor McManus' course the most comprehensive, historically accurate and balanced presentation of any documentaries of the war I have seen.
Date published: 2022-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Remarkable This course is, by far, the best review of the Vietnam War that I have even seen. It adds a great deal to what I remember. Amazingly, I did not discern Dr. McManus’s personal views of this highly contentious topic. I strongly recommend this course to anyone who wants to know what the 1960’s were about. This course presents a retrospective of one of the most divisive eras of American History – the Vietnam War. Dr. McManus offers a year-by-year account of the military and political history but he also dedicates significant time to the personal accounts of individual – American and Vietnamese, nationalist and Communist, prisoners of war and missing in action – involved in the war. I did not serve in Vietnam (even though I had friends who did) but this course gave me great personal insight into what was involved. NOTE: There is occasional but particularly foul language when discussing how soldiers talked. Dr. McManus is not an engaging speaker although he is easily followed. His scholarship is sound, I detected no bias, and he is equally adept at presenting world events and personal reflections. He critiques without judging. He portrays people with depth, never totally evil nor totally heroic. He is scholarly yet accessible, technical yet personal. This account is consistent with what I remember but it adds immense depth to what I thought I knew. I wish that The Great Courses could do comparable courses for other forgotten American wars, particularly the Korean War but also the Spanish-American War, the Mexican War, and the War of 1812. However, it may be challenging to get a lecturer as good as Dr. McManus. The course guide is below The Great Courses (TGC) standard. It is written in paragraph form. There were only three maps and the remaining graphics were not particularly useful. The bibliography lists a lot of references but it would have been more helpful if Dr. McManus had written a sentence or two for each reference explaining what the reader could get from that reference. Strangely, there is no timeline nor is there a list of biographical notes, each of which would have been useful. I used the video version. I appreciated the maps and, to a lesser extent, the graphics. The course was published in 2022.
Date published: 2022-11-10
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Overview

Dive into one of the 20th century’s most consequential wars in The Vietnam War, with expert John C. McManus. In just 24 lectures, reconstruct the battle for Vietnam from the fall of French Indochina to reunification in the 1970s. Analyze a broad range of military operations and strategies utilized throughout the conflict. Survey the scope of American involvement in Vietnam alongside the politics of war back home. Explore the American anti-war movement. And dive into the human dimensions of war and its impact of the individuals involved in or touched by the fighting.

About

John C. McManus

Yesterday's lessons are tomorrow's courses of action.

INSTITUTION

Missouri University of Science and Technology

John C. McManus is the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of US Military History at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned a PhD in History from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a specialist in modern American military history, focusing on World War II through the present and emphasizing ground combat soldiers. He is the author of 14 books on military history, including Fire and Fortitude, which won the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History. He also hosts Someone Talked!, a podcast on military affairs.

By This Professor

The Vietnam War
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The Vietnam War

Trailer

A Half-Century Cataclysm

01: A Half-Century Cataclysm

The war in Vietnam was a human tragedy that wreaked havoc on its participants and witnesses. In the course’s inaugural lecture, examine the conflict from the bottom-up by exploring a constellation of people intimately connected to the fighting, and zero in on what war could reveal about the human condition.

28 min
French Indochina and the Viet Minh

02: French Indochina and the Viet Minh

Survey the economic exploitation and repression that came to define Vietnam in the 19th and early 20th centuries. See how the Vietnamese, including the famed communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, resisted their occupiers with help from the United States. And learn about the tense political situation that emerged in Vietnam following World War II.

30 min
Dien Bien Phu and Vietnam Divided, 1953–1959

03: Dien Bien Phu and Vietnam Divided, 1953–1959

Examine mid-century Vietnam from the First Indochina War to the October 1955 referendum. Reconstruct the Battle of Dien Bien Phu from both French and Vietnamese perspectives. Study how the international community reckoned with a newly divided Vietnam. And survey the emergent political landscape in North and South Vietnam.

28 min
Five Leaders Who Defined the Vietnam War

04: Five Leaders Who Defined the Vietnam War

Explore the makings of war in Vietnam through five major players, starting with Vietnamese leaders Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan in the north and Ngo Dinh Diem in the south. Then, travel across the world to see how two successive US presidents viewed and experienced the escalating conflict.

29 min
The Rise of the Viet Cong, 1959–1962

05: The Rise of the Viet Cong, 1959–1962

Why did the northern Vietnamese government decide to wage guerilla war in the south, and how did its adversaries respond? What was the Viet Cong and what role did it play in the conflict? And how did the United States contend with escalating tensions in Vietnam?

27 min
South Vietnam in Crisis, 1963

06: South Vietnam in Crisis, 1963

In 1963, South Vietnam careened toward crisis. Dig into the ARVN’s deficiencies from lackluster military commanders to political legitimacy. Investigate the religious tensions that plagued South Vietnam and its leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. And explore the contentious relationship between US leadership and Diem’s government.

28 min
The Gulf of Tonkin and a Crossroads, 1964

07: The Gulf of Tonkin and a Crossroads, 1964

From the Gulf of Tonkin incident to Rolling Thunder, explore the ways in which escalating tensions on the ground in Vietnam and domestic political considerations in the United States led to more costly confrontations on the Indochinese Peninsula. Examine how the specter of communism in neighboring Indonesia shaped calculations made by the United States.

28 min
The Vietnam War in the Skies

08: The Vietnam War in the Skies

While the United States boasted an impressive air force, its air campaign struggled when confronted by VC forces. Here, investigate the specifics of America’s air campaign throughout the Johnson administration, as well as the roles played by China and the USSR in helping North Vietnam circumvent American aggression in the skies.

28 min
America Goes All In, 1965

09: America Goes All In, 1965

America, terrified by the prospect of losing South Vietnam in the global struggle against communism, dove headfirst into war in 1965. What were the forces at play—politically, militarily, even interpersonally—that led to such a consequential decision? And how did the Unites States plan to fight a conventional war in Vietnam?

30 min
The World of the American Combat Soldier

10: The World of the American Combat Soldier

Spend some time with the Vietnam War’s often overlooked but incredibly important participants: combat soldiers. Construct a thorough portrait of a typical American grunt from his daily routine in wartime to where he stood in the greater military hierarchy and see how ordinary soldiers weathered brutal combat over the course of a typical 12-month tour.

26 min
The World of the Vietnamese Combat Soldier

11: The World of the Vietnamese Combat Soldier

How did Vietnamese combat soldiers in both the North and South think about and experience war? Follow Vietnamese military recruits from initial enlistment to guerilla combat in the tunnels of South Vietnam and see how the VC and ARVN operated at a granular level.

29 min
Guns, Gear, and Food in the Vietnam War

12: Guns, Gear, and Food in the Vietnam War

From garments to guns, what kinds of tools did soldiers in Vietnam have available to them? Did the VC and United States differ in the types of gadgets and technologies they gave their combat soldiers? And how did soldiers on both sides manage to feed themselves in the deep and winding jungles of Vietnam?

27 min
False Optimism, Failing Strategies, 1966–1967

13: False Optimism, Failing Strategies, 1966–1967

Zoom outward to take stock of the overall situation in Vietnam between 1966 and 1967. See where fighting was fiercest from the DMZ to Hill 875. Examine how the United States approached battle through a series of expansive operations. And take stock of how leaders from President Johnson to North Vietnam’s Le Duan felt about the war, at that point.

28 min
How to Fight an Asymmetric War

14: How to Fight an Asymmetric War

How does one fight and ultimately win an asymmetrical war? And what exactly is an asymmetrical war, anyway? Tactics: Learn about the military strategies deployed by the North Vietnamese army. Examine the ways in which the strategies differed from US approaches and investigate how America and the ARVN responded to them.

28 min
The Tet Offensive, 1968

15: The Tet Offensive, 1968

Perhaps one of the most consequential campaigns in the entire Vietnam War was the so-called Tet Offensive in 1968. Dive into this extraordinary communist attack. What happened? Who was involved? To what extent did it fail militarily? And how did this meticulously planned and highly coordinated siege change the course of the war?

28 min
America in Turmoil, 1968

16: America in Turmoil, 1968

The year 1968 was difficult for ordinary Americans—not just in terms of Vietnam. Survey the tense domestic political landscape in the United States, with special focus on President Johnson. Explore why peace negotiations to end the war in Vietnam ultimately failed. And dive into the 1968 presidential election.

28 min
Race, Culture, and Women in the Vietnam War

17: Race, Culture, and Women in the Vietnam War

The 1960s and 1970s were socially and culturally transformative. Explore the ways in which war in Vietnam exposed racial and gender inequities within the United States, fueling a series of movements for not only equal rights but also peace, and examine how the US presence in Vietnam altered the social and cultural landscape there, as well.

31 min
The Antiwar Movement in America

18: The Antiwar Movement in America

Disapproval of the war in Vietnam coalesced into a powerful, if ultimately diffuse and incohesive, movement. But who were the personalities and groups behind the struggle? What sort of protest tactics did the more militant anti-war groups deploy? And did such profound anti-war sentiment impact the scale and scope of fighting at all?

29 min
Nixon and Vietnamization, 1969

19: Nixon and Vietnamization, 1969

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, America pursued a new strategy in Vietnam, hoping to reform the South from within. Examine the imperfect but steady democratization of South Vietnam. Define and evaluate Richard Nixon’s policy of “Vietnamization.” And explore the events and decisions that led up to the bombing of Cambodia.

29 min
The Race against Time, 1970

20: The Race against Time, 1970

In 1970, the United States found itself in a difficult position. Still, a North Vietnam victory was by no means inevitable. Evaluate the allied position in the war at the start of the 1970s, from the surprising strength of South Vietnam to the invasion of Cambodia, and see how anti-war advocates tempered US involvement.

26 min
America Pulls Back, the North Strikes, 1971–1972

21: America Pulls Back, the North Strikes, 1971–1972

After Cambodia, the burden of combat fell to the AVRN, while morale among US troops hit an all-time low. Reconstruct the Lam Son 719 operation in Laos and the Easter Offensive. Survey the problems that plagued US servicemen in Vietnam. And dive into bombshell investigations like Winter Soldier and the Pentagon Papers.

29 min
The Bitter End, 1972–1975

22: The Bitter End, 1972–1975

Nixon knew by 1972 that US involvement in Vietnam had to end. But how it would end, and exactly when, was up for debate. Evaluate national security advisor Henry Kissinger’s role in procuring a ceasefire in Vietnam. Explore the lead up to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. And track the fall of South Vietnam to the communists.

29 min
Vietnam’s Casualties, Prisoners, and MIA

23: Vietnam’s Casualties, Prisoners, and MIA

With the dust of war settled, how many ultimately died or went missing in Vietnam? Investigate the human consequences of the conflict from POWs to casualties, evaluating the effectiveness of allied and NVA hospitals in treating wounded soldiers along with the treatment of prisoners in Vietnamese camps.

29 min
Vietnam Becomes a Country, Not Just a War

24: Vietnam Becomes a Country, Not Just a War

Survey the post-war issues while the United States attempted to recover from war, tracking the initial alienation of Vietnam vets in America to their acceptance in mainstream America. Conclude by focusing on post-war Vietnam. What happened to the South and her people? And what did normalized relations between the United States and Vietnam look like?

29 min