If Johnson claimed that he wanted peace when he became president, why did he escalate the war in Vietnam and drop more bombs there than were dropped in the whole of World War Two?

Following a brief introduction focusing on troop numbers and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, students work in groups to explore 9 possible reasons for Johnson escalating the war, which they whittle down to the four most significant before creating a simple visually memorable diagram for a GCSE revision guide, along with memorable visual image.

Learning objectives

  • Students are able to offer a wide range of reasons why Johnson escalated the war
  • They can prioritise some reasons as being more significant
  • They can link reasons e.g. public opinion ad the 1964 election
  • They can summarise the key arguments and create a memorable image for revision purposes.


Pupils are shown a graph of US involvement in Vietnam on slide 2 of the PowerPoint. They can see that the figures for US combat troops and deaths are extremely low when Johnson took over following Kennedy’s assassination. When you click the animated slide the figures for Johnson’s term of office are revealed-a massive escalation. Students can see the enormous

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