About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam"

Good afternoon. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. 

Welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater, here at the National Archives Building,  whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

Before we hear from Max Boot about his new book, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up this month.

Tomorrow evening at 7 p.m., we’ll show the Emmy Award–winning HBO documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Based on the book of the same name, this 1987 film features actors and actresses reading actual letters home from men and women serving in the Vietnam War.

On Thursday, January 25, at 7 p.m., we’ll host a panel discussion on “Vietnam: The Tet Offensive.” Erik Villard and other guests will discuss the Tet Offensive and Villard’s book, Combat Operations: Staying the Course, September 1967–October 1968.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information 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.

Our current special exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam” in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery upstairs, explores the Vietnam War through historical records and contemporary interviews with Americans and Vietnamese, both veterans and civilians. The exhibit is on display all year, a time that marks the 50th anniversary of the height of America’s war in Vietnam. Just two weeks from now is the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive.


Now I ask all Vietnam veterans or any United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, to stand and be recognized.

Veterans, as you exit the McGowan Theater after today’s program, National Archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin. On the back of the pin is embossed:

“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is a national initiative, and the lapel pin is the nation’s lasting memento of thanks.


“Remembering Vietnam” draws on National Archives records from all parts of our agency—federal civilian and military records, Presidential libraries, still photography and motion pictures, sound recordings, and electronic records.

By showcasing our records in exhibits such as “Remembering Vietnam,” we also bring attention to our primary mission to preserve and make accessible the records of the federal government. Every year, thousands of researchers come to our research rooms, and many more use our online resources.

Some of this documentary mining results in important books about our nation’s history. Today’s guest author, Max Boot, sought out records not only from several record groups but from many of our locations. For his work on The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, Boot used records from the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries as well as State Department, OSS, CIA, Department of Defense, and Kennedy Assassination Review Board records at the National Archives at College Park.

I’m pleased to welcome a scholar who is familiar with our documentary resources and uses them to tell the important stories of America’s past.

Max Boot is a military historian, best-selling author, and foreign-policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict.”

Boot is the Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and is a frequent public speaker and guest on radio and television news programs. He has lectured on behalf of the U.S. State Department and at many military institutions.

In 2004, he was named by the World Affairs Councils of America as one of “the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy.” In 2007, he won the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism, given annually to a writer who exhibits "love of country and its democratic institutions" and "bears witness to the evils of totalitarianism."

Before joining the Council in 2002, Boot spent eight years as a writer and editor at the Wall Street Journal, the last five as op-ed editor. From 1992 to 1994 he was an editor and writer at the Christian Science Monitor.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Max Boot.