Why was the United States involved in Vietnam?

Out of Print.

The Limits of Power: The United States in Vietnam takes students back in history to evaluate how successive U.S. administrations between the late 1940s and early 1970s perceived the situation in Vietnam, weighed the stakes, gauged the options, and implemented policy decisions. In the central activity, students become decision-makers wrestling with four distinct policy options that confronted the Johnson administration in the summer of 1965.

Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Appy, Christian. Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From all Sides (New York: Viking Press, 2003). 604 pages.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History (New York: Viking Press, 1991). 768 pages.

McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Times Books, 1995). 414 pages.

McNamara, Robert S., James G. Blight, and Robert K. Brigham with Thomas J. Biersteker and Herbert Y. Schandler. Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (New York: Public Affairs, 1999). 479 pages.

Sheehan, Neil. The Pentagon Papers (New York: Bantam Books, 1971). 677 pages.

This lesson provides an alternative perspective to the "American" war and its aftermath.
Newly released documents and analysis of events relating to the Vietnam War, much from the Chinese perspective.
Transcripts and audio recordings from Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, plus online exhibits to help students and teachers navigate the volume of material available.
PBS website with primary sources, maps, teacher guides, and more that complements the series Vietnam: A Television History.
Provides a list of over one hundred YouTube videos featuring songs from the Vietnam War-era.
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