Supplemental Materials

Teacher's Guide for The Fog of War

An Errol Morris Film
Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature

The Teacher's Guide for The Fog of War provides a series of lesson plans to accompany Errol Morris' Academy Award wining full-length documentary. Each lesson draws on additional online resources. The resources below are organized by section from the guide.

Historical Context for The Fog of War

One to three-page summaries of some of the most defining moments in U.S. history provide students with a context for the film.

World War I

Strategic Bombing in World War II

Cold War

Cuban Missile Crisis

Vietnam War

Nuclear Weapons

Activity 1-"Empathize with your enemy." Comparing Cuba and Vietnam

For additional curriculum material on the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War, see the following units developed by the Choices Program. Both engage students in new information emerging from the Critical Oral History Project research.

The Cuban Missile Crisis: Considering its Place in Cold War History

The Limits of Power: The United States in Vietnam

The web-based lessons on the Cuban missile crisis.
These have been developed by classroom teachers working with research scholars as part of a Teaching American History grant program.

Activity 2-"Rationality will not save us." The Case of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Critical correspondence from the Cuban missile crisis

Khrushchev letter to Kennedy – October 26, 1962

Khrushchev letter to Kennedy – October 27, 1962

Kennedy letter to Khrushchev – October 27, 1962

Castro's letter to Khrushchev – October 26, 1962

Activity 2 is drawn from The Cuban Missile Crisis: Considering its Place in Cold War History, a curriculum unit developed by The Choices Program.

Activity 3- "Belief and seeing are both often wrong." The Tonkin Gulf

Case Study-The Tonkin Gulf Resolution

This case study provides a larger context for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution than appears in The Fog of War and its accompanying Teacher's Guide. It is excerpted from The Limits of Power: The United States in Vietnam, pp 25-28, Copyright - The Choices Program, Watson Institute, Brown University.

President Johnson's Message to Congress - August 5, 1964

Joint Resolution of Congress H.J. RES 1145 - August 7, 1964

McNamara's private memo to President Johnson - November 1, 1967

Notes of Meeting of Advisors - November 2, 1967

President Johnson's Memo to the File - December 18, 1967

War Powers Act - November 7, 1973

Activity 3 is drawn from The Limits of Power: The United States in Vietnam, a curriculum unit developed by The Choices Program.

Activity 4-"Proportionality should be a guideline in war." Values in a Time of War

Activity 4 is drawn from Ending the War Against Japan: Science, Morality, and the Atomic Bomb, a curriculum unit developed by The Choices Program.

Activity 5-Just War and Proportionality

Activity 5 is drawn from Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy, a curriculum unit developed by The Choices Program.

Further Reading:

Geneva Convention #4

May 1983 Pastoral Letter on War and Peace
U.S. Catholic Bishops [See the section on Just War criteria.]

Activity 6-Oral History and the Vietnam Experience

For additional curriculum material on the Vietnam War, see The Limits of Power: The United States in Vietnam. This unit, developed by the Choices Program, engages students in new information emerging from the Critical Oral History Project research.

The Journals on Vietnam: Other Voices, Other Perspectives.
These have been developed by classroom teachers working with research scholars as part of a Teaching American History grant program.

Activity 7-Film as Media

Robert S. McNamara - Lessons for The Fog of War – Filmmaker Errol Morris derives eleven lessons from the life of Robert McNamara. Robert McNamara articulates a different list. Compare McNamara's own lessons with the lessons Errol Morris identifies.

An extensive selection of film reviews of The Fog of War is available online. Read what Errol Morris has to say about The Fog of War.

Filmmaker Errol Morris invented the "Interrotron" to capture one-on-one conversation without the distance created by the third person (the camera).

Activity 8- What kind of world do we want for the 21st century?

This activity invites students to think about the world of the 21st century. What kind of world do they want? What do they consider the challenges and the opportunities in the world today? What role do they think the United States should play in the world of the 21st century? We encourage students to make their voices heard on this issue by participating in an online student ballot on The U.S Role in the World.

An additional lesson plan on the U.S. role in the world is also available online.

A snapshot of ballot results is available online. A full report was developed by the Choices Program in January 2005. The U.S. Role in the World: A Report on Student Views was released on January 28, 2005. Additional reports will be released periodically.

Further Reading

The Fog of War draws principally on Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing and Catastrophe in the 21st Century (expanded paperback edition, PublicAffairs, 2003), Robert S. McNamara and James G. Blight. Chapter 1, "A Radical Agenda," provides a capsule summary of the twentieth century and a framework for asking the question: "What kind of world do we want for the 21st century?"

The film also derives from the research of two previous books: Robert S. McNamara, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (Times Books, 1995); and Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight and Robert K. Brigham (with contributions by Thomas J. Biersteker and Col. Herbert Y. Schandler), Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (PublicAffairs, 1999).

The Critical Oral History Project and the National Security Archives provide declassified documents on a wide range of topics.

Additional Curriculum Resources

Many of the activities in the Teacher's Guide for The Fog of War have been adapted from curriculum resources published by The Choices Program. Choices curriculum units are used in a range of courses including U.S. history, world history, global studies, and government. Materials include extensive background readings and a role-play or simulation exercise that encourages students to apply their knowledge in an authentic setting.

Multiple copies of the 24-page Teacher's Guide for The Fog of War are available from the Choices Program at reduced rates. Contact the Choices Program at choices@brown.edu for details.

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