Would JFK Have Pulled Us Out Of Vietnam?

A tantalizing archival discovery suggests the perils of historical evidence

As director of the American History Project for High School Students at the John F. Kennedy Library, I spend a great deal of time in classrooms exploring the critical connection between reliable evidence and the conclusions reached by historians. Most students, of course, have limited experience with historical evidence. They are eager to express opinions about history but, asked to back them up, often cite “facts” from television, films, or the Internet.

 
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The Paper Trust

To begin with, the Presidential libraries do not look like what they are. Each one is, in fact, a miniature Office of Public Records. And scholars who frequent such offices know that they are found in capital cities, in buildings that are heavy, ornamented, slowly discoloring monuments to bureaucrats dead and gone. The National Archives of the United States—America’s public records—are, to give one example, housed in an oversized Greek temple near the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues in Washington, D.C. Read more »