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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.
Meet Martha Washington
Although she famously burned all but two of the letters from her husband George, Martha Custis Washington amassed a correspondence that is sizable, articulate, and—as it reached out to numerous people in Virginia and beyond—a fascinating window on colonial America and the post-Revolutionary republic. As the Washington Post reports, Martha's letters will now be added to the ongoing Papers of George Washington project
Glad We Could Help
Awhile back we got an unusual request for temporary access to The Dolley Madison Digital Edition. This is one of the databases in our American Founding Era collection, published by our electronic imprint, Rotunda. Usually such requests come from large research libraries wanting to trial a resource before acquiring it. In this case, however, the users would be three sixth-grade students in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Tadjo at World Voices Festival
All Things to All People
No Founding Father has as a greater public following than Thomas Jefferson. Embraced for over two centuries by everyone from abolitionists to laissez-faire capitalists, from atheists to evangelicals, Jefferson speaks to people in a way that somehow transcends class or race or political affiliation. But when the agendas of his followers range so widely, is it inevitable that many must be misinterpreting his beliefs? Jefferson scholar Andrew Burstein shares the long history of appropriating Jefferson, a practice that even presidents are not above, in his new book, Democracy's Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All While Being Dead. Professor Burstein agreed to answer some of our questions about his provocative book and what it reveals about both the third president and the generations that have followed him.
It is the week of Thomas Jefferson's birthday, and everyone wishes him a happy birthday. No, really—literally everyone. Currently on Salon, historian Andrew Burstein looks at the appropriation of Jefferson by both left and right, in particular the adoption of this founder of the Democratic Party by the modern-day Tea Party movement. This is just one of the apparent contradictions Burstein explores in his provocative new book, Democracy's Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All While Being Dead.
And So It Ends
The South we inhabit today began with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. The formal end to the Civil War, it definitively brought the antebellum era to its close. On the 150th anniversary of this historic meeting, we look back at the war's beginning with Brent Tarter's new book, Daydreams and Nightmares: A Virginia Family Faces Secession and War, a devastating look at the personal cost of the war. The scene of the war's conclusion provides a fascinating entry in Anne Carter Lee's Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, the latest addition to the Buildings of the United States series.
Virginia Festival of the Book
For one week each spring the Virginia Festival of the Book turns Charlottesville into a mecca for book lovers. This year's gathering—set to kick off Wednesday, March 18—brings together literally hundreds of writers, including, as usual, many UVA Press authors. We're posting a list of our authors' events below. You can find a complete list of events at the festival web site.
Assia Djebar, 1936-2015
The Algerian novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar has passed away at the age of 78. A perennial Nobel contender, Djebar was the first Algerian, and only the fifth woman, to be voted into the Académie Française, France's most prestigious literary institution. As the publishers of her novel Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, we can testify to the never-flagging fascination with this pioneering artist.