Vietnam War

HS 224 Paper #2 Assignment on the Vietnam War

Due uploaded to World Class by noon on Tuesday, April 6


Nuts and bolts: 4-6 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman, normal margins, page numbers inserted, stapled (Footnotes using Chicago style, see example below)


Essay prompt: The Vietnam War originated and escalated through decisions of politicians. But the lasting impacts were felt, as in all wars, in the everyday lives of average citizens in Vietnam and the United States. Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do offers an intimate portrait of how the Vietnam War impacted the lives of one family living in Vietnam who survived as refugees to the United States. Other sources we will look at (James Fallows, Martin Luther King Jr., Hearts and Minds film) offer glimpses into the war’s impact on the everyday lives of Americans (Americans drafted to fight in the war, those who enlisted voluntarily, those who dodged the draft, anti-war protestors, whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, journalists, photographers, etc…)


Write a thesis-driven paper that compares and contrasts the impacts of the Vietnam War on the everyday lives of Vietnamese and Americans. You will craft an argument centering your own, original, analytic lens to frame these comparisons and contrasts. You will do so by drawing on these required sources as your evidence:

Required Sources

  1. Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence (1967)
  3. James Fallows, “What did you do in the Class War Daddy?”
  4. Hearts and Minds (dir. Peter Davis 1974)

**You may use any other sources assigned from class as optional support (Eric Foner books, PowerPoint slides uploaded to WorldClass, any video links I upload). But you may not use outside sources.

Argument Tips:

Do Not simply construct an argument that says X and Y were different, Z was similar. Rather, think about patterns/themes to help you analytically frame those differences. For example, where does race or class come into these patterns? How about gender? How about perceptions of patriotism/loyalty to certain political ideas/national values? Where does colonial/imperial history come in? Where does “victory culture” come in?

Also Do Not simply center this story around American experiences and sprinkle in Bui’s book. This is a paper that asks you to use these sources to think about these experiences in comparison. Bui offers the stories of one family but she links those to broader connections/commentaries about Vietnamese history and experiences (this also shows up in many interviews in Hearts and Minds, and comes through in parts in MLK’s speech as well). Use these sources to draw those comparisons out fully. One opportunity you also have using Bui’s story, is the fact that it is a graphic novel. This means your evidence can come from both the text, but also the art she uses to illustrate the story. Her art is a central piece of her story-telling, her own analysis. So take advantage of that opportunity to do some creative analysis here.


Writing Tips

For your introduction, be sure to set the context that will frame your argument. You want to let the reader know where and when we are in space and time, and what significant events, themes, definitions are framing your analysis. For a paper of this length an introduction could be 1-2 paragraphs. At the end of the introduction, you’ll provide a thesis statement that lays out your paper argument and offers a brief glimpse/roadmap for where this paper will be going. Your thesis statement is your response to the question posed above; your own original argument for how this question should be analyzed. For a paper of this length it could be 1, 2, or at most 3 sentences.


The body of your paper should provide evidence backing up your argument. Each paragraph should offer a clear transitional topic sentence that anchors the reader back to your broader thesis statements, while also signaling what is unique about the evidence in that specific paragraph that supports that broader argument.


Conclusions are great spaces to both sum up key points of your argument but also to consider bigger, “so what” questions and ideas that indicate why your argument is significant. You can also use a conclusion as a space to consider broader ideas/questions, areas of inquiry you were unable to delve into fully in this paper but that can be considered for future inquiry.


What else?

Remember The Learning Commons (TLC) listed on our syllabus on World Class is a wonderful resource for writing support; there are writing tutors who can help with this assignment. You are also always welcome to come visit me during our office hours or to make an appointment if you need additional support. Review your class notes! Talk with your peers! Save all your drafts!



Chicago style footnote


Book: The Best We Could Do (for example)

Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2018), 10.

Second reference just Bui, The Best We Could Do, 11.


If the The Best We Could Do reference comes immediately after another The Best We Could Do reference, just use Ibid (if same page number) or Ibid, 12 (if different page number)