Teaching Vietnam: Outside Resources


There are many books, films, and websites that explore the history and legacy of the Vietnam war and era; below are some of those resources.


Echoes From the Wall Curriculum – A variety of lesson plans to teach the Vietnam war and era at the high school level, incorporating primary source audio and video.

Texas Tech University Virtual Vietnam Archive – A collection of over 4 million personal photographs, oral histories, maps, and artifacts relating to the Vietnam War.

Project Look Sharp Media Construction of War Kit – From Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp, a teaching kit analyzing Newsweek coverage of war, from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

CHOICES Limits of Power: United States in Vietnam – From Brown University’s CHOICES program, a comprehensive curriculum focusing on the many stages and players of the US’s involvement in Vietnam.

POWs – From the National Museum of American History, a lesson plan focusing on news sources from the Vietnam War era and how POWs and their families were represented in the media.

Library of Congress Veterans History Project– Search a vast collection of personal accounts of veterans of the Vietnam War and beyond

Documentary Films

Be Good, Smile Pretty (2003) – Chronicles the heart-wrenching journey to understand and cope with the loss shared by the estimated 20,000 American children whose fathers were killed in Vietnam.

Chicago 1968 (1995) – Explores the chaotic atmosphere of the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention .  A PBS American Experience production.

Cold War (1998) – Documentary series which examines the Cold War and its influence on history, culture, technology, economics, and the modern psyche. Episode 11 focuses on the Vietnam War.

Daughter from Danang (2002) – This PBS documentary examines the story of an “Americanized” woman who was separated from her mother at the end of the Vietnam War.  They are reunited after 22 years. Includes teacher’s guide.

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam HBO (1988) – Letters, newsreels and home movie footage from people who served in Vietnam.

The Fog of War (2003) – The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense, under President Kennedy and President Johnson, Robert S. McNamara.  Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Includes teacher’s guide.

Gold Star Children (2013) – An award-winning documentary about child survivors of war casualties, written by Mitty Griffis Mirrer, a Gold Star Child herself.

Guerilla Wars People’s Century(1997) – Depicts Viet Cong’s hit-and-run tactics inflicted upon U.S. soldiers, facing sabotage by unlikely soldiers, booby traps, and ambush, produced by WGBH. Includes teacher’s guide.

Hitchhiking Vietnam: Letters from the Trail (1997) – Karin Muller’s extraordinary documentary about her experiences traveling on-her-own for seven months in Vietnam.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994) – This Academy Award winning documentary film explores the story of The Wall and examines a decade of Maya Lin’s creative work.

My Lai (2010) – PBS documentary focusing on the 1968 My Lai massacre, its subsequent cover-up, and the heroic efforts of the soldiers who broke ranks to try to halt the atrocities, and then bring them to light.

Regret to Inform (2000) – Film maker, Barbara Sonneborn, makes a pilgrimage to the Vietnamese countryside where her husband died.  She explores the meaning of war and loss on a human level and weaves interviews with Vietnamese and American widows into a vivid testament to the discomforting legacy of war.

Return with Honor (1999) – Story of American airmen held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam, produced by PBS. Includes teacher’s guide.

The Sixties (2014) – 10-Episode CNN Series exploring the decade that shaped America.

1968—with Tom Brokaw (2007) – Documentary produced by the History Channel. Includes teacher’s guide.

They Were Young and Brave (1994) – Eleven former American soldiers, including Lt. Gen. Harold (Hal) Moore and Journalist Joseph Galloway, return to the Ia Drang Valley to relive the battle which some historians have called the turning point in the war.  Produced by ABC News.

A Touch of Home: The Vietnam War’s Red Cross Girls (2007) – Arrowhead Films. This documentary tells the story of 627 young American women who served in the American Red Cross Supplemental Recreation Overseas program during the Vietnam war.

Two Days in October (2005)- PBS documentary, part of the American Experience series, that tells the story of two days in October 1967, one when a battalion was ambushed and another when students in Wisconsin staged a protest against Dow Chemical. It is based on the book They Marched Into Sunlight by journalist David Maraniss.

Vietnam: A Television History (1983) – A 13-part PBS documentary that examines America’s involvement in Vietnam. Based on the book by Stanley Karnow. Includes teacher’s guide.

Vietnam in HD (2011) – A six-episode History Channel Production focusing on the firsthand experiences of thirteen Americans during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Perspective (1985) – This 34-minute documentary gives a chronology of foreign involvement in Southeast Asia, highlighting America’s participation in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War (2018) – Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, THE VIETNAM WAR, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film.  Includes teaching resources.

The Vietnam War with Walter Cronkite/ CBS New(1987) – Contains on-the-scene reports by correspondents Ed Bradley, Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Dan Rather, Morley Safer, Bob Simon and others. Includes interviews with combat veterans.

War Letters (2011) – PBS documentary based on the book War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, by Andrew Carroll.  Includes teacher’s guide.

Why Vietnam? (1965) – Department of Defense film. President Lyndon Johnson outlines U.S. policy relating to South Vietnam in an address to the American people.

Feature Films and Television Programs

Apocalypse Now (1979) – Remake of Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, with a Vietnam War setting. Stars Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, and Marlon Brando.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) – Story of paralyzed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic turned anti-war activist and his many challenges assimilating back into American society.  Stars Tom Cruise.

Casualties of War (1989) – Based on the true story of a squad of soldiers caught in the moral quagmire of wartime Vietnam.  Stars Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn.

China Beach (1988-91) – Award winning television program about the nurses, entertainers and volunteers who served alongside American troops in Vietnam at the China Beach recreational facility near the U.S. base at Da Nang.

Coming Home (1978) – Academy Award winning story of a wounded veteran and his readjustment to civilian life.  Stars Jane Fonda, Jon Voigt and Bruce Dern.

The Deer Hunter (1978) – Academy Award winning drama following a group of steel worker friends from their peaceful lives in Pittsburgh to the Vietnam War. Stars Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken .

Forrest Gump (1994) – Academy Award winning film following the life of low I.Q. Forrest Gump and the love of his life, Jenny. The film chronicles his accidental experiences with some of the most important people and events in America from the late 1950’s through the 1970’s, including the Vietnam War. Stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, and Gary Sinise.

Full Metal Jacket (1987) – A squad of Marine grunts fight the battle of Hue City during the climactic Tet Offensive.  Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) – Tells the story of an American disc jockey assigned to U.S. Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam.  Stars Robin Williams.

Go Tell the Spartans (1978) – Tells the story of an American advisory group in Vietnam in 1964.  Stars Burt Lancaster.

The Green Berets (1968) – Story of the Green Berets, the elite Special Forces, during the war in Vietnam. Stars John Wayne.

Hamburger Hill (1987) – A bloody, violent account of the struggle of American forces to secure a particular hill in Vietnam.

Hanoi Hilton (1987) – American captives in Hanoi’s Hao Lo Prison survive turbulent years as POWs.

Heaven & Earth (1993) – Film based on the memoirs, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts and Child of War, Woman of Peace by Le Ly Hayslip with James Hayslip.  Traces Ms. Hayslip’s life from Vietnam to the U.S. Directed by Oliver Stone.

In Country (1989) – A reclusive Vietnam War veteran and his 17-year-old niece struggle to heal the wounds of Vietnam, where her father died.

Indochine  (1992) – Moving film focusing on a rubber plantation owner in French Indochina in the 1930s and her adopted Vietnamese daughter, who falls in love with a French naval officer and gets involved in the anti-colonial struggles of the times. French with English subtitles.

Journey from the Fall (2006) – Based on the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled after the fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975, and on the Vietnamese who stayed behind.

The Killing Fields (1984) – Academy Award winning film based on the book “The Death and Life of Dith Pran” by Sydney Schanberg. Tells the true story of a survivor of the Khmer Rouge brutality in Cambodia, 1975-79.

Platoon (1988) – Academy Award winning film focusing on the daily experience of infantry soldiers in Vietnam. Directed by Oliver Stone.

The Quiet American (2002) – The screen adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American tells the story of a cynical British journalist who leaves  England to live in Southeast Asia, where he is reporting on the Vietnamese fight for independence from French colonial rule.  Stars Michael Caine.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) – John Rambo is released from prison by the government for a top secret covert mission to the jungles of Vietnam—the last place he would want to return.  Stars Sylvester Stalllone.

Rescue Dawn (2006) – This film is based on the true story of German-born Dieter Dengler, who dreamed of being a pilot and eventually made his way to the United States, where he joined the Navy during the Vietnam War era. He became a pilot and was shot down over Laos and captured. Eventually he organized an escape with a small band of captivesStars Christian Bale.

Three Seasons (1999) – An ex-G.I. in Ho Chi Minh City searches for a daughter he left behind in the war. Stars Harvey Keitel.

To Heal a Nation (1992) – Chronicles Jan Scruggs’ efforts to build a Vietnam Veterans  Memorial. Stars Eric Roberts as Jan Scruggs.  View film guide for students.

Tour of Duty (1987-1990) – CBS television series portraying the trials of a U.S. Army platoon serving in the field during the Vietnam War.

Uncommon Valor (1983) – An MIA rescue adventure film.  Stars Robert Stack and Gene Hackman.

We Were Soldiers (2002) – Vietnam War film that dramatizes the Battle of the Ia Drang on November 14, 1965. The film was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Mel Based on the book We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway. The film was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Mel Gibson.

Who’ll Stop the Rain? (1978) – Explores the aftermath of the war and adjustment to civilian life. Stars Nick Nolte and Tuesday Weld.

Fiction Books

The Wall (1992) by Eve Bunting- Children’s story about a boy and his father who visit The Wall to search for the boy’s grandfather’s name.

Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane – A Union solider during the Civil War struggles with the challenges of the battlefield and the difficulty of summoning courage.

The Quiet American (1956) by Graham Greene – A British journalist covering the French war in Vietnam and an American CIA agent working undercover live through difficult times in Vietnam and experience confrontation when a young Vietnamese woman is forced to choose between them.

Novel Without a Name (1995) by Duong Thu Huong – The war is seen through the eyes of Quan, a North Vietnamese soldier who joins the army at 18; 10 years later Quan is disillusioned by loss and struggle.

Grandfather’s Dream (1994) by Holly Keller – Children’s story about birds who disappear from Vietnam due to war.

Matternhorn (2009) by Karl Marlantes – Young Marine lieutenant Waino Mellas and his company enter Vietnam as naive boys, but leave as men through life-changing experiences in combat.

In Country (1985) by Bobbie Ann Mason – 17-year old Sam is fascinated by the Vietnam War and its effects on her life and her family after her father died in the war.

The Things They Carried (1990) by Tim O’Brien – a collection of short stories about American soliders serving in Vietnam.

Fields of Fire (1978) by James Webb – Three young men come together through the horrors of battle in Vietnam.