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US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75

6. Legacies

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In this final module, we turn our attention to the legacies of the war for the United States. The peace deal that Nixon and Kissinger negotiated did not last long and by 1975 South Vietnam had been captured by the North. This had sweeping implications for the region as Cambodia and Laos also fell to Communism. However, the dominoes did not continue to fall as pro-US regimes were maintained in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. In the US, the war had caused great strain on the economy and partly caused the economic instability of the 1970s. In the political arena, the US struggled with the moral authority of its foreign policy and elected Jimmy Carter in an attempt to regain moral purpose. During the 1980s, the memory of the war took on added significance as divisions opened up about what lessons could be learnt from the war. These divisions have lasted to the present day as US discourse over their policy in the Middle East has rekindled the debates of the 1960s.


In this course, Professor Mark Atwood Lawrence (University of Texas at Austin) explores the American experience in Vietnam. We start by introducing the Vietnam War and explaining its significance for the United States. In the following modules we will then explore five key questions: (i) why was there a crisis in Vietnam?; (ii) why did Vietnam matter to the United States?; (iii) why did the United States fail to achieve its objectives in Vietnam?; (iv) how did the United States end its commitment in Vietnam?; and (v) what were the legacies of the war for the United States?


Professor Mark Atwood Lawrence is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin. Professor Lawrence has written and taught widely on the subjects of U.S. foreign relations, the Vietnam War, international history, and decolonisation. He has published two books on the Vietnam War - Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2005) and The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (Oxford University Press, 2008).

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APA style

Lawrence, M. (2021, October 26). US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 - Legacies [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lawrence, M. "US History – The Vietnam War, 1945-75 – Legacies." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Oct 2021,

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