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History   >   US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75

Why Vietnam?

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US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75

In this course, Dr Patrick Hagopian (University of Lancaster) explores the history of the Vietnam War, from Ho Chi Minh's Proclamation of Independence in September 1945 to the Fall of Saigon at the end of April 1975. In the first module, we attempt to explain why the United States was interested in Vietnam at all. After that, we consider the period between 1956-63, when the United States decisively threw its support behind the government of Ngo Dinh Diem, ending with Diem's overthrow and assassination on 2 November, 1963. In the third module, we continue to story as Lyndon B. Johnson replaces the assassinated John F. Kennedy and proceeds to escalate the war in Vietnam until—at the end of 1967—the US had committed some 400,000 combat troops to the region. In the fourth module, we focus on one of the most pivotal moments in the war—the Tet Offensive—in which some 80,000 Viet Cong launched a series of surprise attacks on targets throughout South Vietnam. After that, we turn to President Nixon's management of the war and his policy of Vietnamization, a program to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnam's forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, and the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the region. Finally, in the sixth module, we turn to the final years of the war, including the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the final fall of Saigon in April 1975.

Why Vietnam?

In this module, we explore the events in Vietnam from the late nineteenth century to the election of Ngo Dinh Diem as President of South Vietnam in 1955, and attempts to explain why the United States was politically interested in Vietnam at all. As we move through the module, we think in particular about the French occupation of Vietnam until 1941, Ho Chi Minh's declaration of independence in 1945, the First Indochina War between 1946-54, and the Geneva Conference of 1954 that led to the partition of the country into North and South Vietnam. We also consider the growing influence of Communism in the region, focusing in particular on the descent of an 'Iron Curtain' across Europe in 1945, the fall of China to Communism in 1946, and the growing belief in the White House in the 1950s that the fall of one country to Communism would lead to the rest following suit.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hagopian, P. (2018, August 15). US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 - Why Vietnam? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hagopian, P. "US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 – Why Vietnam?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Patrick Hagopian

Dr Patrick Hagopian

Lancaster University