1600 word max, U.S. history paper on the book All the Presidents Men OR Dispatches

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Your task: consider one of these two books and the larger themes they raise in historical perspective, from the 1970s to the present. Key themes include, but aren’t limited to: War and foreign policy; soldiers’ experience on the ground and in the media; public trust and the executive branch; expectations and life after the end of the “long boom”; the sense of shared or fractured culture; movements for social equality; globalization and U.S. role in the world; privacy and civil liberties.

Thesis-based easy answering the following:

Does Dispatches or ATPM offer useful insights into how Americans thought of themselves and how the nation should work – both within the 1970s era and in the more recent past and in terms of the role of journalists, the press and news media in the national dialogues?


This is the specific format of the essay: (3 parts)


The first thing you should do in preparation for this essay is to decide what theme or themes on which to focus (see some examples above). Americans thought about themselves and how the nation should work in multiple dimensions – choose a limited and specific set of themes to work with. The first paragraph of your essay should clearly identify the theme(s) and clearly contain a single, overarching thesis in response to the question above – yes it does, no it doesn’t or some combination. (The “no” answer may be a bit less obvious here, but there is no requirement to argue yes and there are valid ways to argue a “no” position – we are happy to chat strategy as helpful.) You should organize your discussion as a unified essay thatincludes three main sections. Essentially, make this the outline for the body of your essay.

  • Use the text of either Dispatches or ATPM as the central focus to discuss the relevance of their themes for the 1970s era. Important: make sure you draw direct textual evidence (quotations, stories, passages) from the book. Failure to do so will negatively affect your grade (see rubric). Optional sources you might draw on to supplement your analysis or illustrate your themes include:
    • Hall, Vietnam Era Antiwar MovementHerring, Vietnam SyndromeO’Brien, On the Rainy RiverDocumentary film clips from lectureNewsweek, The Nixon TapesFoner text Woodward & Bernstein, Nixon Was Far Worse Carter, Crisis of ConfidenceSchultz, What It Was LikeEconomic expectations handoutNetwork “Mad as hell” clip from lectureSlow Burn podcastYou are welcome to reference issues/sources in the era before the 1970s where useful to your analysis – i.e. Cold War, long boom, GI Bill, Second Bill of Rights, the Civil Rights movement, etc.
  • Explore how and to what extent these themes continued to resonate and/or evolved – expanded, receded, intensified, or changed – in American life in the decades since (1980s-2010s). Include at least TWO (2) sources from D2L in the “Sources” folder, film clips/handouts appearing in the “Lecture Slides” folder (but not individual lectures themselves) for weeks 13-15, or the source you used for HW10. See folders for all eligible sources, but for example, you might consider:
    • Cigelske, The Continuing Impact Reagan, Speech to Nat. Assn. of Evangelicals Morning in America ad shown in lecture Reagan’s Approval Ratings and Iran-Contra Reagan at Brandenburg gate clipBush, New World OrderHuntley, Who Won the Cold War?Declaration for Global Democracy MCI/Worldcom ad shown in lectureNational Security Strategy of the U.S.Byrd, Speech on the War in Iraq Iraq: Voices of the Fallen NewsweekBranding of the Occupy MovementWomen in Combat articlesSnowden on PrivacyUfford, 18 Years Ago I Helped Start a WarVeniste, Watergate LawyerYour HW10 sourceYou may include more than two sources where relevant and if there is room – there is no “limit” on these. General references to lecture or Foner can help to provide context by they do not “count” as one of the two required. If you want to use a specific image from lecture as a source, seek specific advance approval from your TA. If you have questions about whether a given source “counts” or not, please ask sooner rather than later. We are happy to help you sort this out.
  • Consider the role of journalists, the press, and the news media in shaping the national dialogue in relation to the themes you’ve chosen. Both Dispatches and ATPM were widely read publications by journalists that provided information and narratives for Americans to assess Vietnam, Watergate, and the challenges they represented. How do you assess that influence historically and how does your study of these books and themes shed light on the role of journalism in our own time?

No minimum here, but sources you might draw on to develop your analysis include:

Baughman, Fall & Rise of Partisan Journalism

Tanz, Journalism Fights for Survival

Woodward & Bernstein, Nixon Was Far Worse

Schultz, What It Was Like

Cigelske, The Continuing Impact

Snowden on Privacy

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