A History of the Vietnam War 

DANTES Final Exam Outline

Each topic will be covered in class. 


Pre 1940’s Vietnam: (4% - 6%)


  • Domination by the Chinese and a tradition of resisting invaders: The colonial past of Vietnam.

  • French conquest/colonialism and the development of nationalism and communism: For nearly six decades, Vietnam was under French colonial rule.

  • Ho Chi Minh: His main objective was making Vietnam independent.


World War II, the Cold War, and the First Indochina War (1940-1955): (8% - 10%)


  • Vietnam declares independence and the restoration of French rule.

  • Global Containment, Viet Minhn and French military strategies.

  • Eisenhower’s Vietnam policy: Aided with military advisors known as Special Forces (Green Berets).

  • American response to the Geneva Conference: How the French could withdraw peacefully.


Diem and Nation-State Building (1955-1963): (9% - 11%)


  • The U.S.s support for Diem and his inadequacies as a leader: U.S. helped Ngo Dinh Diem become elected despite being a horrible leader.

  • JFK’s commitment to counter the southern insurgency (Military and economic assistance): Increased the number of military advisors.

  • Internal opposition, the Buddhist crisis, and coup against Diem: Diem was killed in 1963 during a U.S supported rebellion.


Lyndon B. Johnson Americanizes the War (1964-1965): (9% - 11%)


  • Political Instability, the North Vietnamese Army, and the Tonkin incident and resolution: The beginnings of the war.

  • The role of Vietnam in the 1964 Presidential Campaign: Political impact.

  • U.S. air campaign over Vietnam: From Flaming Dart to Rolling Thunder.

  • Introduction of U.S. combat troops (March through April 1965) and the increased combat commitment (July 1965): Wanted to show a strong presence against communism.


America Takes Charge (1965-1967): (9% - 11%)


  • Strategy of attrition and stabilizing Saigon’s regime: The plan for victory.

  • U.S. army in Vietnam and War without fronts: The combat experience.


Home Front USA: (7% - 9%)


  • The Great Society, the credibility gap, and Congressional dissent: The opinion of the war at home and abroad.

  • The civil rights movement and the start of the new left: Ideology hits home.

  • The draft and draft resistance: The war perceived by those sent to fight it.


Tet (1968): (8% - 10%)


  • Vietnamese planning for the Tet offensive: Ho Chi Minh agrees to a ceasefire and peace talks during Tet but plans a surprise attack.

  • The bombing stops and peace talks begin: Reactions after the offensive.

  • The 1968 election: Nixon elected president after Johnson decides not to run.


The Vietnamizing of the War (1969-1973): (9% - 11%)


  • Nixon, Kissinger, Vietnamization, and Justification (troop withdrawal).

  • Secret negotiations (1969-1971) and the 1972 Spring offensive.

  • The October agreement, Christmas bombing, triangular diplomacy (U.S., the Soviet Union, and China) and the Paris Peace Accords (1973).


The War at Home: (7% - 9%)


  • Campus unrest, Peace activists, and moratoria: The effects of war at home.

  • The counterculture, antiwar movement, and the silent majority: Civil unrest.


Cambodia and Laos: (7% - 9%)


  • JFK and Laotian, Sihanouk and Cambodian neutrality: The war spills over.

  • Secret bombings, Khmer Rouge and the fall of Phnom Penh (1975).

  • The communist victory in Laos: Implications for the future of the war.


“A Decent Interval”: (7% - 9%)


  • The cease-fire violations, Watergate, and Nixon’s resignation: The political front.

  • Congress passes the War Powers Act and the fall of Saigon: Implications.


The legacies of the U.S. and Lessons: (4% - 6%)


  • Impact of the war on Vietnam, American foreign policy and the economic consequences: What the war meant for both countries.