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Teaching the "American War": Looking at the War in Vietnam Through Vietnamese Eyes   Tags: primary source world  

Last Updated: May 19, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Examine Ho Chi Minh's speeches to think about his goals for Vietnamese independence.

Watch oral history interviews to hear why some Vietnamese fought in the war.

Use antiwar music to consider Vietnamese feelings towards the war.



Too often, the Vietnam War is taught solely from American perspectives, as students examine the role of the U.S. government and military in the conflict, the war's impact on American lives, and the ways in which the war influenced subsequent domestic and foreign policy. Framing the conflict in terms that ignore the Vietnamese and their experiences, however, makes it difficult for students to fully understand the nature of the war and its impact. These primary source activities prompt students to consider the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese and are designed to complement topics that are traditionally covered from U.S. perspectives. The first activity uses speeches made by Ho Chi Minh to examine how one Vietnamese leader viewed Vietnam's struggle. In the second activity, oral history interviews with Vietnamese soldiers and civilians are used to understand the motivations of some individuals to take arms against American and South Vietnamese forces. Finally, the third activity draws on Vietnamese antiwar music to explore Vietnamese feelings towards war and make comparisons with the American antiwar movement.

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