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Photos: Kenneth Hoffman

America's war in Vietnam ended over four decades ago, yet a number of significant and important questions remain unanswered: Why did America intervene in Vietnam? Was the conflict a civil war? Why did the United States think it could engage in nation building so far from its shores? Why did some Vietnamese believe they needed to go to war to get justice? Why did the war drag on so long?

Critics of the American intervention in Vietnam claim that policy makers in Washington dragged the country into an unnecessary, unwanted, and immoral war. In contrast, a small group of scholars and military leaders offer a spirited defense of American intervention. A careful examination of myriad original sources reveals that neither view is entirely accurate and that the interplay of motivations and responses was far more complicated than most accounts suggest.

This site, developed around the course materials for Robert Brigham's first-year seminar on the Vietnam War at Vassar College, offers visitors an opportunity to examine some of those sources, including numerous official documents. Brigham was one of the first American scholars given access to Hanoi’s archives on the war. Included here are his translations of some of the Hanoi documents, offered for examination and study.