Seth Jacobs wants you to come to class and argue with him.
He’s been teaching Boston College’s The War That Never Ends for 13 years, and he knew from the first day that it would never bore him.
“What I love about this topic, and why I love teaching it,” Professor Jacobs says, is “the very first time I encountered this in a classroom, there was a massive argument in class between two students who literally almost came to blows. This is a subject that inspires very passionate emotions.”
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No war in U.S. history has cast a longer shadow than America’s 30-year conflict in Southeast Asia. Vietnam has hovered over every foreign-policy initiative since 1975, including Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo; presidents and generals have struggled to avoid replicating the experience that tore their nation apart and led to the first military defeat of the U.S.
After 9/11, the War on Terror made plain Vietnam’s enduring relevance: campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere have been conducted with the lessons of Vietnam in mind. Yet, what those lessons are is a matter of passionate debate. In this course, we will look at a vast array of primary and secondary sources, including memoirs, short stories and recently declassified State and Defense Department documents.
Students will to learn to make informed judgments and arguments about a complex, confounding subject, and see why and how the experience in Vietnam has endured.
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Photo credit: Shubert Ciencia on Flickr