Kennedy and Vietnam: The great what-if

The President's News Conference 23 March 1961

Kennedy and Vietnam: The great what-if

Fredrik Logevall, Marc Selverstone, Barbara Perry (moderator)

Wednesday, December 07, 2022
11:00AM - 12:00PM (EST)
Event Details

John F. Kennedy is often portrayed as a dove because plans for U.S. troops to withdraw from Vietnam began while he was president. A new book by Miller Center Professor Marc Selverstone, drawing on once-secret presidential recordings, makes the case that the withdrawal plan was a canny political device, designed to manage public opinion while preserving U.S. military assistance.

Selverstone, author of The Kennedy Withdrawal: Camelot and the American Commitment to Vietnam, joins Harvard University’s Fredrik Logevall, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history, in a conversation moderated by Barbara Perry, Miller Center director of Presidential Studies. What would have happened if Kennedy had lived? Was Kennedy's Vietnam strategy adopted decades later in the withdrawal from Afghanistan?


Wednesday, December 07, 2022
11:00AM - 12:00PM (EST)
The Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Rd
Charlottesville, VA
Fredrik Logevall headshot

Fredrik Logevall

Fredrik Logevall is the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of history, Harvard University. A specialist on U.S. foreign relations history and modern international history, Logevall is the author or editor of ten books, most recently JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 (Random House, 2020). His book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House, 2012), won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for history. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Logevall holds a PhD in History from Yale University and is a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Marc Selverstone headshot

Marc Selverstone

Marc Selverstone is an associate professor in presidential studies at the Miller Center and chair of the Center’s Presidential Recordings Program. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Trinity College (CT), a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in history from Ohio University. A historian of the Cold War, he is the author of Constructing the Monolith: The United States, Great Britain, and International Communism, 1945-1950 (Harvard), which won the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. As chair of the Recordings Program, Selverstone edits the Secret White House Tapes of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. He is the general editor of The Presidential Recordings Digital Edition, the primary online portal for transcripts of the tapes, published by the University of Virginia Press. His latest book is The Kennedy Withdrawal (Harvard University Press).

Barbara Perry headshot

Barbara Perry (moderator)

Barbara A. Perry is the Gerald L. Baliles Professor and director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, where she co-directs the Presidential Oral History Program. She has authored or edited 16 books on presidents, First Ladies, the Kennedy family, the Supreme Court, and civil rights and civil liberties. Perry has conducted more than 120 interviews for the George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama Presidential Oral History Projects; participated in the Bill Clinton interviews; directed the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project; and co-directs the Hillary Rodham Clinton Oral History Project. She served as a U.S. Supreme Court fellow and has worked for both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.

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