About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "In the Arena: A Memoir of Love, War, and Politics"

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s conversation between Chuck Robb and Michael Beschloss about Senator Robb’s new memoir, In the Arena.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

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On Thursday, May 27, at noon, Jim Downey will tell us about his new book, Brainstorms and Mindfarts, a look at the brightest and most innovative American inventions along with the frivolous and utterly useless ones.

And on Wednesday, June 2, at 7 p.m., Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed presents her latest book, On Juneteenth. She will recount the origins of Juneteenth and its integral importance to American history. This program is presented in partnership with James Madison’s Montpelier.

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In part one of his new memoir, Senator Chuck Robb writes that in becoming a Marine, “I found an identity and an ethos that would remain at my core for the rest of my life.” The challenges and lessons of the Marine Corps shaped a life of service—both in the military and as an elected official.

His long career has intersected with many moments of history represented in the National Archives and its Presidential Libraries—from marrying Lynda, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, to commanding Marines in Vietnam and his civilian service to Virginia and the nation as Governor and U.S. Senator.

As Senator Robb writes, “I have lived a life of incredible events and interesting stories.” I look forward to hearing some of those stories tonight in our conversation with Chuck Robb and Michael Beschloss.

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In 1961, Chuck Robb was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. It was while on assignment as a White House military social aide that he met and married Lynda Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson. Soon after their wedding, Robb deployed to Vietnam as a company commander. After earning a law degree and practicing as an attorney, Robb was elected Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor in 1978 and Governor four years later. In 1988, he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate, where he served for two terms.

Since leaving the Senate, Robb served as co-chairman of the WMD Commission and as a member of the Iraq Study Group. He has also had roles at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, the Marshall Wythe School of Law at William & Mary, George Mason University, and the U.S. Naval Academy, among many others.

Joining Senator Robb in conversation tonight is Michael Beschlossis, an award-winning historian, bestselling author, and Emmy winner. His newest book is Presidents of War, which tells the story of the American Presidents who have waged our major wars. He is on the Board of Directors of the National Archives Foundation, a trustee of the White House Historical Association, and former trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Now let’s hear from Chuck Robb and Michael Beschloss. Thank you for joining us today.