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The Vietnam War

Explore the losses and legacies of the war in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 42.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from A complicated story, well told It's always a challenge to discuss recent history. He set an appropriate viewpoint by choosing which events and issues could be summarized and even judged while leaving other events to be judged by his viewers or for others in the future. He helped me understand the flow of the events of this war and to develop a framework for my own conclusions.
Date published: 2023-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding Current History Course This particular period in history was never very clear to me when learning about it in school. Professor McManus' course on The Vietnam War really highlighted a lot of details such as the early history before the war that contributed to it, and refreshed a lot of the information in regard to the US involvement, which also became clearer with more information of the political behind the scenes events. (I think it also helped was also watching the mini-course on JFK). It was a great refresher on an old topic and fun to watch and listen to as a general history enthusiast. Great for those particularly interested in that particular topic of history or other history enthusiast such as me.
Date published: 2023-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply awesome! I have started and completed many courses and this one rates at the top. The course material is outstanding. It is not detailed on many battles but that is not what I was looking for. It covers the politcal background, the U.S. and Vietnamese cultural atmospheres and the U.S antiwar movement very well. Dr McManus is compeling, knowledgeable and maintains audience interest. I was a young child to high school age during the U.S. involvement but always interested in what really took place and this course provided the answers.
Date published: 2023-06-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dr. McManus is a pretty good reader... Instead of lecturing the professor simply read in a non-dulcet tone. As a draftee at the time and an 11 Bravo some of the descriptions brought back some haunting memories. However, the people who watch this course would be better served without the obvious conservative coloring.
Date published: 2023-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course As a Navy Vet of the Vietnam War, I really enjoyed this well researched course. Professor McManus did an excellent job of presenting an even handed, non ideologically biased course. He did not avoid any controversial topics and did not judge the past through the lens of our present ideological biases. He did not succumb to the great historical error of judging the past by the standards of today. Three cheers for Progessor McManus!
Date published: 2023-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course! Dr. McManus did an outstanding job of developing and presenting an interesting and apparently objective course on the Vietnam War. I say "apparently" not because I suspect it was not, but simply because I do not have the knowledge to evaluate that. It certainly came across as objective, as a good historian should strive to present. I especially appreciated the multifaceted view that he presented. I'm not a fan of the recent productions with speakers sitting like statues reading from teleprompters. I'm sure their presentations would be even better if they were allowed some freedom.
Date published: 2023-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential, Complete Perspective I listened to this course on Audible and I was very impressed. Few of the most popular "histories" of the war go beyond simple activist narratives into the real causes of the war, the geopolitical factors that led to America's escalation, and what really happened in Vietnam. The presenter's expertise encompasses the morass of controversy across both tactical and political lines, and he gives a fair shake to all of the players involved. Profoundly eye-opening for anyone with interest in the topic, especially if you already think you know what happened. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2023-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from True examples of the folly caused by blockheaded This is one of the two best courses I have downloaded. I felt the pain that the "grunts" as they were led into impossible situations. True examples of poor leadership led to this disastrous war that flip/flopped America. This deserves six stars.
Date published: 2023-03-27
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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.


John C. McManus

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


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
The Vietnam War


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.

29 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?

32 min