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LISTEN: The Next Step Up the Ladder

July 28 marks an anniversary that is not well known but which looms large in American history. On that day in 1965, Lyndon Johnson appeared on television to deliver his famous “Why We Are in Vietnam” speech, as he announced to the American public that he would be committing more American troops to that war-torn region. This massive escalation—General Westmoreland requested 150,000 additional troops—represents the “Americanization” of the war and is seen by most historians as the turning point in America’s involvement in a country that would help define, tragically, an entire era.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of these events, we are presenting a special essay by George Herring, one of the great chroniclers of the Vietnam War. Published in a special ebook-only format, The War Bells Have Rung: The LBJ Tapes and the Americanization of the Vietnam War reveals that LBJ, like many of his eventual critics, saw the war as a doomed enterprise. And yet, he felt he had no choice but to pursue it. Using recordings of the president’s private phone calls from that fateful summer, Herring shares the fascinating behind-the-scenes drama of LBJ’s decision.


An Epochal Peace

The new agreement with Iran over its nuclear program hues closely to R.K. Ramazani's recommendation in the afterword of his 2013 book Independence Without Freedom: Iran's Foreign Policy. According to the new deal, Iran will be able to maintain its program but for peaceful uses only. Ramazani, widely considered the dean of Iranian foreign policy study, urged the U.S. to recognize Iran's own ambivalence about nuclear weapons while allowing some freedom in civilian uses of a nuclear program.


Rotunda Adds Adams and Madison Content

Three volumes from the Adams Papers and Papers of James Madison projects are the source for nearly 1,200 new documents in Rotunda's American Founding Era collection.


The Golden Afternoon

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, three years after a trip up the Isis from Oxford prompted Charles Lutwidge Dodgson to pen this immortal story. The just-published The Pamphlets of Lewis Carroll: Games, Puzzles, and Related Pieces, an overview of Carroll’s second career as a creator of games and puzzles, will appeal to lovers of puzzles, wordplay, and the wit and wonder of its celebrated author. We spoke to the volume’s editor, Christopher Morgan, about this fascinating aspect of Carroll’s life and how his games complement and shed light on his beloved fictions.


Choukas-Bradley at Cosmos Club

Monday, July 13, Melanie Choukas-Bradley will be at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC to discuss her recent book, A Year in Rock Creek Park, in a presentation that celebrates the 125th anniversary of Rock Creek Park. Her talk will showcase photographs by Susan Austin Roth, many of which appear in the book


Gibbons House: A Story of Emancipation

On June 12th, the University of Virginia held a special dedication at its newest residence hall, Gibbons House, named in honor of former slaves William and Isabella Gibbons for their contributions to the university and “their example of perseverance and accomplishment throughout their lives.” The dorm will house about 200 first-year students starting this August. Remarking that it was his last official act as rector of the Board of Visitors, George Keith Martin—the first African-American person to hold that position—said of the Gibbons: “Their lives are examples of the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Slavery did not keep them from learning to read. With the freedom that emancipation brought, they sought out and pursed professional employment opportunities and continued their education.”


'Rock Creek Park' Back to Press after IPPY Win

A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC has received a 2015 Independent Publishers’ IPPY award—a silver medal for Mid-Atlantic nonfiction. The award was presented to author Melanie Choukas-Bradley at the Independent Publishers’ annual book awards ceremony on May 27th at the Historic Providence in New York City. A Year in Rock Creek Park is illustrated with 32 full-page photographs by award-winning photographer and author Susan Austin Roth. The book’s paperback edition has just gone into its second printing.


Archipedia Expands to N. Dakota

We're pleased to announce the addition of 409 building entries, illustrated by 424 photographs, from the just-published Buildings of North Dakota volume by Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, with 100 of these freely accessible via SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings.


LISTEN: A Decent Interval

Despite agreement among Richard Nixon and his advisors by 1971 that the Vietnam War was a lost cause, the president took the advice of his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, and decided to leave American troops in Asia until he had won reelection. The inevitable fall of Saigon—so the thinking went—must not happen in an election year. And so thousands more American soldiers lost their lives in a military action that their president had lost faith in. This disturbing story is part of Ken Hughes' findings for his new book, Fatal Politics: The Nixon Tapes, the Vietnam War, and the Casualties of Reelection. There is, unfortunately, even more to the story.

A researcher at the Miller Center and an expert on the White House tapes ("Ken Hughes is one of America's foremost experts on secret presidential recordings."—Bob Woodward), Hughes explains how the decision to prolong American involvement in Vietnam to help ensure a second term for Nixon opened the door for a second, equally reprehensible, decision.


LISTEN: "To Put It Brutally..."

On this, the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the Vietnam War seems like a distant dream and America's actions during that long tragedy are as inscrutable as ever. As early as 1971, one would have said President Nixon should remove American troops from Vietnam for political reasons alone. After all, nearly three-fourths of Americans favored a withdrawal. And yet, the troops remained. This would seem to jibe with the view, cultivated by Nixon himself, that he wanted to win the war but that Congress tied his hands. As Ken Hughes reveals in his latest book, however, Nixon and his advisors privately agreed the war could not be won. In Fatal Politics: The Nixon Tapes, the Vietnam War, and the Casualties of Reelection, Hughes investigates many remarkable conversations from the Oval Office to show, among other revelations, how national security advisor Henry Kissinger convinced the president that maintaining a presence in Vietnam was in the best interest of his reelection hopes. Were South Vietnam to fall before the election, he reasoned, it could have a negative impact on the campaign.


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