History 183

The Vietnam War

Richard H. Immerman

Spring 2000

Midterm Examination Questions

As I previewed at the start of the semester, the midterm examination will consist of one of the following questions—verbatim. With the assistance and advice of Ginger, I (the examiner) will select which one. You (the examinee) are free--indeed encouraged--to study together: comparing notes, dividing up responsibilities, etc. But you'll have to "solo" on the examination itself, when each of you individually will write (in ink) your essay, without  notes, books, or any other aid. You will write your essay in the blue books that I distribute in class. Hence, you will have no alternative but to complete all your preparation prior to the exam.

Let me stress once again that historians do not simply tell a story. We interpret and argue. Thus organize your essay appropriately, proceeding in the fashion of a mathematical proof (developing an outline is an effective strategy to prepare). Your introduction should explicity state your interpretation, thesis, point of view, or whatever else you prefer to call your argument. Then, in the body of the essay, use evidence (illustrations, examples) to support the argument (your thesis) that you have stated in your introduction. You should, therefore, really not need a conclusion. If you insist on including one, it need not go beyond, "Hence, as I indicated it would, the evidence shows that ....." Of course, if the evidence you cite contradicts your thesis, you have problem. Go back and revise.

1. Based on your reading and the lectures, to what extent did a sense of national identity and "patriotism" emerge in "Vietnam"? Put another way, from the perspective of Vietnamese history, politics, and culture, was it legitimate for Ho Chi Minh to claim to speak for Vietnamese nationalism? Was the character "Sai" in Le Luu's novel A Time Far Past, fighting for nationalism, communism, or for some other reason? What is the image of the Vietnamese "revolutionary" Graham Greene presents in The Quiet American? Is s/he similar or dissimilar to the characters you encountered in A Time Far Past? Which portrayal do you find more credible, and why. In answering this question you will need to identify explicitly what you believe were the chief motivations (e.g., ideology, materialism, geopolitics) of the Vietnamese peasant/worker: To create a new society? To gain independence? To eat better? All of the above? None of the above? Some of the above?

2. Analyze the causes, course, and consequences of the First Indochina War. Your essay should discuss the nature of the colonial regime and the rise of revolutionary/national movements; the theory and practice of revolutionary warfare; the primary developments and turning points during the war; the role of external powers; and the war's implications for the future.

3. Explain the factors and forces that produced the Geneva Accords in 1954 (hint: see both the coursepack and the online documents at http://astro.temple.edu/~rimmerma/Essay3Documents.htm). In addition, after identifying the primary provisions of the agreements and reviewing each party's position with regard to t hem, discuss the reasons why the Agreements failed to provide a framework for enduring peace and stability in Vietnam, and in fact were implemented so incompletely that they contributed to the renewal, and intensification, of hostilities.