Literature Review

Vietnam Women’s Memorial via Flickr

A major assignment of History 297 is the literature review, which is a critical essay that analyzes important works written on a historical topic. A literature review is important because it helps a historian enhance their knowledge of the arguments, theories, and facts related to their topic of interest.

An aspect of history that I have always been fascinated with is American women during times of war. In the past, I have done projects on American women during World War II (1941-1945), specifically the women who played a major role in the Manhattan Project. Since I have recently exhausted my focus on World War II, for this project I decided to “expand my palate” and try a different period of history. Therefore, for a Literature Review, I plan to focus my topic on American women during the Vietnam War (1965-1973). 

I was first introduced to this topic last year during the Great Lives book presentation on The League of Wives by Heath Hardage Lee. The thing that drew me to this book was the fact that it was an untold story, similar to that of the women of the Manhattan Project. This book was important because it led me to discover that the Vietnam War is another example of how American women have been overlooked in history.

The Vietnam War is a unique military conflict for many reasons. Some of the reasons include, the usage of guerilla tactics and the negative reaction of the homefront. However, something that stands out the most is the involvement of women. According to the encyclopedia, Women and War, there were about 10,000 U.S. female soldiers. This number does not include the female journalists, Red Cross volunteers, or arts performers.

The sources that I have pulled demonstrate that American women played a significant role during the Vietnam War, which ultimately led to changes in gender roles in military and civilian life. One of my peer-reviewed academic sources is Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam Era by Heather Marie Stur. This book has played an important role in my research so far because of the information, but most importantly, the bibliography. From the bibliography have been able to find other sources that will be useful in my Literary Review.