America at War - 20th Century

Batavia High School


Instructor:  Mr. John Mangefrida

Class:  A/C days Block 1 Upton Hall

Telephone: (585) 343-2480 Ext.  7351

Course Description

This course will introduce the student to the military heritage of the United States from the Spanish-American War to the present. This course is designed to explore the causes of the U.S. entry into war in the 20th century, the strategy and conduct of these wars, and the consequences of these conflicts.  Wartime battles will be discussed on a selection basis.  Force structure, equipment and military biographies will also be studied.  Attention will also be given to national and international attempts to prevent war.  We will examine American military conflict using a wide variety of information sources including video, text, simulation and featured speakers.

The course covers the two World Wars, the Cold War, and operations other than war in the period since the end of the Cold War. The modernization of weaponry and communications and the extension of military activities in air and space are examined. The course requires extensive reading and research. America at War – 20th Century is a college level course being taught at Batavia High School. Upon successful completion of the course students will receive 3 credit hours from GCC, as well as, credit for graduation from BHS.

Text:  Morris, James M. America’s Armed Forces  2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice – Hall,  


Supplementary Reading: Millet, Allan R. & Maslowski, Peter. For The Common Defense  New York:The Free Press, 1994 .  This book is NOT required, but would be a great addition.  Use or  The Book Store at GCC will have this book in stock.  It cost around $25.00.

Course Requirements



            Class Attendance is very important. Failure to attend class regularly can result in loss of credit.  Should you miss a class you must see me before the next class.  Students may make up missed classes on Tuesday during War Lab

 Classroom Participation:

            Active participation in classroom discussion and activities is just important as reading and writing on your own.


            We will cover a large amount of textbook material.  For every chapter, I highly suggest that you outline any chapter and other reading assignments that are assigned.  All the chapter and other reading assignments can be found on the web page.   Reading assignments will also be available in a read file at the Library.



            There may be a quiz at the start of every class.  The quizzes may be multiple choice, short answer or oral.  The quizzes are meant to measure class preparation.  Students who complete assignments and complete chapter readings should have very little difficulty in achieving high grades on quizzes.  I plan to give at least a quiz every week with a maximum of 15 total quizzes. Each quiz will be worth 10 points.  Missed quizzes may be made up during War Lab on Tuesdays.


            Two exams will be given in class during the weeks of March 11th and April 30th.  These exams may feature multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and or short answer questions.  Each exam will have a value of 50 points.


You will be given an essay assignment that will be worth 50 points.


Final Project and Presentation:

            A final project must be completed for a final grade in to class.  The project will consist of a 5-10 page research paper along with an oral presentation on a major military battle, event or biography.  The Research paper and presentation will be worth 100 points each.  


            Your course grade will be computed using the following values:

            Quizzes            150 points         A = 400 – 350 points

            Exams              100 points         B = 349 – 300 points

            Essay               50  points         C = 299 – 250 points

            Final Project      200 points         D = 249 – 200 points

            Total Points       400 points         F = below 200 points

War Lab:

            The War Lab will be held in Room 73 on Tuesdays from

You will be encouraged to attend lab sessions during the semester.  The lab sessions are designed to help you through this course.  I will be available to help you with any aspect of the course work.

Other Information:

1.                   Work is due on announced due dates.  Late work is NOT accepted. PERIOD.

2.                   All written work must be typed, double-spaced, font no larger than 14pt.

 Failure to abide by this rule will result in your paper being returned upgraded.

3.                   It will be your responsibility to check with me for any class missed

4.                   All class information and announcements may be found on the War Homepage located on my web site.

Course Objectives:

            At the conclusion of the course, based upon extended writing, examination questions and

             classroom activities, students will be able to:

1.  Identify at least five features of the American armed forces at beginning of the twentieth century.

2.  Evaluate at least three effects of the war against Spain on American foreign policy.

3.  Assess at least three examples of American military expeditions in East Asia and Latin

     America from 1900 to 1941 in terms of their impact on American foreign policy.

4.  Assess the four types of small wars involving the United States in the twentieth century in

     terms of their impact on American military strategy. 

5.  Evaluate at least five ways World War One reshaped the organization of the American military.

6.  Assess at least four effects of military life and wartime experiences on the men and women of the   

     American armed forces during World War Two.

7.  Identify at least five factors that shaped American strategy in Europe during World War Two.

8.  Compare and contrast the competing American strategies in the Pacific during World War II.

9.  Assess the effectiveness of at least two Post-World War Two military alliances.

10.  Identify at least three factors leading to the development of a military industrial complex in Post-World

       War II America.

11.  Evaluate four ways that atomic weapons reshaped American military strategy in the Cold War.

12.  Identify at least four reasons for the failure of America’s strategy in Vietnam.

13.  Evaluate at least three effects of the communist collapse in the Soviet Union on American military


14.  Assess four effects of the Gulf and Iraq wars on the American military.

15.  Identify four ways the role of the National Guard and Reserves has changed since 1945.

16.  Demonstrate knowledge of a basic narrative of modern American history by answering a set of   

       questions on American politics, public policy, and society in the context of the causes of the US entry    

       into the wars of the 20th century, including the strategies and conduct of the wars, significant war time   

       battles, and the consequences of the conflicts for American society and the world at large. *

17.  Select a major battle, event or biography in American military history and produce a 5 -10 page  

       research paper and present a 10 minute oral report with outline, showing the significance of this event.  

       The information used in the project will be based upon library research involving a minimum of three

       sources utilizing online full-text data bases (information management).*

18.  Demonstrate an understanding of America's evolving relationship with the rest of the world by  

       answering questions on American politics, public policy, and society in the context of the causes of the   

       US entry into wars of the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the consequences of the conflicts  

       for American society and the world at large. *


* This course objective has been identified as a student-learning outcome that must be formally assessed as part of the College's Comprehensive Assessment Plan.  All faculty teaching this course must collect the required data (see Assessing Student Learning Outcomes form) and submit the required analysis and documentation at the conclusion of the semester to the Office of Assessment and Special Projects.

Course Topics

Introduction into the American Military

            Brief History

Force Structure