Speaking in this lecture are professors David Kaiser, Robert D. Schulzinger, as well as Timothy Naftali, the director of Presidential Recordings at the University of Virginia, and Sharon Fawcett, an assistant archivist at the Presidential Libraries. This lecture comes from "Vietnam and the Presidency", a national conference where leading historians, key policymakers of the Vietnam War era, and journalists who covered the war examine the antecedents of the war, presidential decision-making, media coverage, public opinion, lessons learned and the influence of the Vietnam War experience on subsequent US foreign policy.
The Vietnam War was the longest and most controversial war that the United States ever fought. It claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and over three million Vietnamese. From the arrival of the first US military advisors in the 1950s to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, US involvement in Viet Nam was central to the Cold War foreign policies of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. The war has continued to affect the policies of subsequent presidents, and its legacy is particularly relevant today during America's war on terror.
"It is our hope and expectation that this conference will reveal a wealth of new information on the history of the Vietnam War and its impact on the office of the President," says Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. "As keepers of the nation's official history, the National Archives and the Presidential Libraries are uniquely positioned to provide a forum for examining the effect of the war in Viet Nam on our nation and its citizens."
BIO: David E. Kaiser
David Kaiser is an associate professor in MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and a lecturer in MIT's Department of Physics. He completed an A.B. in physics (1993) at Dartmouth College, and Ph.D.s in physics (1997) and the history of science (2000) at Harvard University.
Kaiser's historical research focuses on the development of physics in the United States during the Cold War, looking at how the discipline has evolved at the intersection of politics, culture, and the changing shape of higher education. His physics research focuses on early-universe cosmology, working at the interface of particle physics and gravitation.
Kaiser is author of the award-winning Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (2005), which traces how Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream. He has also edited several books on the history of modern physical sciences, including, most recently, Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (2005). Kaiser is author of the award-winning Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (2005), which traces how Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream. He has also edited several books on the history of modern physical sciences, including, most recently, Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (2005).
BIO: Timothy Naftali
Tim Naftali is the director of the Nixon Presidential Materials Project and director-designate of the federal Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, which will officially open this summer in Yorba Linda, California. Before joining the National Archives and Records Administration in October 2006, Tim was at the University of Virginia's Miller Center where he wrote widely on foreign policy and presidential history. His latest books are Khrushchev's Cold War (co-authored with Aleksandr Fursenko) and Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism. His views on this blog are emphatically his own and do not represent the policies or positions of the US government.
BIO: Jeffrey Kimball
Jeffrey Kimball has taught courses on the history of diplomacy, peace, war, imperialism, popular culture, the United States, American presidents, and Western civilization since 1968.
His books include To Reason Why: The Debate About the Causes of American Involvement in the Vietnam War (1990), Nixon's Vietnam War(1998), and The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy (2004). Nixon's Vietnam War won the Ohio Academy of History Book Award and the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize.
He has served as visiting professor at the University of New Orleans, History Department Graduate Director at Miami University, and president of the Peace History Society, and he has held fellowships from the Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and the Mershon Center.