Scholars Online

janet Lang

Balsillie School of International Affairs—University of Waterloo


Filmed in February 2013.

Why did you do a critical oral history project on the Vietnam War? [2:18]

Why is it important for high school students to learn about the Vietnam War? [2:59]

What were the Geneva Accords of 1954? [1:42]

Why are the Geneva Accords important? [2:14]

Why did the U.S. government believe it needed to prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam? [2:06]

What is the difference between a hot war and a cold war? [1:39]

How did the conflict begin in South Vietnam? [2:05]

What was President Kennedy's view of U.S. involvement in Vietnam? [4:58]

What was the significance of the 1963 coup that overthrew Ngo Dinh Diem? [3:52]

How did the U.S. approach to Vietnam change when Lyndon Baines Johnson became president? [3:13]

What was the Tonkin Gulf Incident? [2:52]

How did North Vietnamese perceptions of U.S. intentions affect the war? [2:05]

What was the significance of the attack at Pleiku in 1965? [4:15]

In what ways is the Vietnam War relevant today? [2:18]

Filmed in April 2008.

Who are you and what do you do? [Jim Blight - 0:38]

Who are you and what do you do? [janet Lang - 0:41]

How did many Cubans view U.S. influence in Cuba in the 1950s? [1:24]

What were U.S.-Cuban relations like leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis? [1:42]

What was the Bay of Pigs invasion and why was it significant? [2:11]

What did Kennedy learn from the Bay of Pigs invasion? [1:44]

Why did Cuba align itself with the Soviet Union? [2:24]

How did different national perspectives lead to three names for the crisis? [1:26]

How did Kennedy's thinking change during the crisis? [3:04]

How did Kennedy react to Khrushchev's letters of October 26 and 27? [2:44]

How did Khrushchev react to Castro's letter of October 26? [2:10]

How did Americans, Soviets, and Cubans react to the crisis? [2:40]

What lessons did Cubans take from the crisis? [1:16]

What could have happened if the United States had attacked Cuba?[2:27]

How did Soviet submarines increase the chance of nuclear war? [3:30]

How close did we come to nuclear war? [3:04]

How did Soviet submarines increase the chance of nuclear war? [3:30]

What is critical oral history? [1:32]

What is the value of bringing former adversaries together? [1:23]

What lessons have you learned from critical oral history? [1:41]

What advice did General Curtis LeMay give Kennedy? [1:25]


janet Lang is a research professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She holds PhDs in both experimental psychology and epidemiology and over the past 15 years has also served as co-director with Professor James G. Blight of critical oral history projects on the Cuban missile crisis, the collapse of U.S.-Soviet d├ętente in the Carter-Brezhnev period, and the American war in Vietnam. She has done work on the method of critical oral history, which makes use of memories of key decision makers, scholars and their research, and declassified documents to generate new data and interpretations of events. She is author or co-author of many articles deriving from these projects, including the seminal piece, "The Burden of Nuclear Responsibility: Reflections on the Critical Oral History of the Cuban Missile Crisis" (with J.G. Blight, in Peace and Conflict, 1995). Professors Lang and Blight co-produced the 2008 documentary film, Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived, and co-authored The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).