About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam"

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. Whether you are here in the theater or watching on YouTube, we’re glad you could join us for today’s discussion of the book, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, with author Mark Bowden. Our moderator today is Scott Stossel.

Before we get started, I want to tell you about a few other programs coming soon to the McGowan Theater.

This Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m., we welcome a panel of experts who will explore the historical and modern importance of the Constitution to American society, with an emphasis on America’s changing demographic landscape. Our Eleventh Annual State of the Constitution Panel “The New American Constitution” will be moderated by C. Douglas Smith, vice president of James Madison’s Montpelier.

On Tuesday, September 19 at 7 p.m., we proudly present  “The Words That Built America.” An unabridged reading of the authentic words of our founding fathers, the film is narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough. Joining us to introduce the film will be Director-Producer Alexandra Pelosi, who brought together more than 100 readers, including all the living Presidents and Vice Presidents, as well as Supreme Court justices, leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, celebrities, media figures, and young people to read these iconic documents.

And mark your calendars for October 17 at 7 p.m. when we will be hosting our next Vietnam-related program. Journalist and author Cokie Roberts will moderate a discussion with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, directors of the PBS documentary series, The Vietnam War.

This “can’t miss” event is one in a series of public discussions, book lectures, films, and other programs to be presented in conjunction with the upcoming exhibit, Remembering Vietnam, which opens in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery on November 10.

The exhibit is a media-rich exploration of the Vietnam War, featuring interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians with first-hand experience of the war’s events as well as historic analysis. It is a fascinating collection of newly discovered and iconic original documents, images, film footage, and artifacts that illuminate 12 critical episodes in the war that divided the populations of both the United States and Vietnam.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Printed copies are currently available in the lobby where you’ll also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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Today, award-winning author and journalist Mark Bowden shares the riveting history of the biggest and bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War in Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

In January 1968, the fighting in Vietnam was at a stalemate. With the Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese planned to win the war in a single stroke with military actions and popular uprisings across South Vietnam.  But the most crucial part of the plan was the capture of Hue, the country’s cultural capital.

To date, Hue 1968 has received high acclaim. George F. Will writes in the Washington Post, “[A] magnificent and meticulous history, which tells, with excruciating detail, a story that is both inspiring and infuriating...Bowden’s interviews, almost half a century on, with those who fought, on both sides, have produced unexampled descriptions of small-unit combat.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Karl Marlantes calls it, "An extraordinary feat of journalism... Through his scrupulous day-by-day reconstruction of this battle, Bowden encapsulates the essential lessons of the Vietnam War...the book is full of emotion and color.”

And Kirkus Reviews writes “Bowden delivers an anecdotally rich, careful account of the complex campaign to take the city. One of the best books on a single action in Vietnam, written by a tough, seasoned journalist who brings the events of a half-century past into sharp relief."

The National Archives at College Park and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library are two research facilities that Mark Bowden used to tell the story of the Tet Offensive. Bowden kindly thanked archivists Tim Nenninger and John Wilson for their assistance, “turning what would have been a random process into something very directed and efficient.”

Here at the National Archives, we proudly preserve the permanent records of the Federal Government and make them accessible to researchers who can then tell the stories of the American men and women who contributed to our nation’s history.

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Mark Bowden, author of Hue 1968, has written 13 books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down. It has sold over 4 million copies.

Mark reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 20 years and now writes for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware.

His most recent book is The Three Battles of Wanat: And Other True StoriesBlack Hawk Down was a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction; his Killing Pablo won the Overseas Press Club’s 2001 Cornelius Ryan Award as the book of the year; and his Guests of the Ayatollah was listed by Newsweek as one of “The 50 Best Books for Our Times.”  Mark has received the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award and the International Thriller Writers’ True Thriller Award for lifetime achievement. 

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Scott Stossel, our moderator for today’s discussion, is the editor of The Atlantic magazine and the author of the the award-winning Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver and the New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, which was nominated for the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize.

His articles have appeared in a wide array of publications, including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and The Daily Beast, and his work has been included in The Best American Political Writing.

After graduating from Harvard, Scott joined the staff at The Atlantic in 1992, helping to launch what was then called The Atlantic Online. In 1996, he moved to The American Prospect magazine where, over the course of seven years, he served as managing editor, executive editor, and culture editor. He rejoined the Atlantic staff in 2002.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming author Mark Bowden and moderator Scott Stossel.