Sluts and the Founders (Online)

I got the idea for the essay below around 2017, when I was researching my George Washington biography, but I wrote it this month, while doing research on my forthcoming John F. Kennedy book. The primary sources could not be more different. Washington’s handwriting was beautiful, and most of his letters have been transcribed by experts, but I much prefer Kennedy’s archives. I know what he looks like at every age. I’ve seen him walk and dance and laugh. I’ve heard his voice change over the years. But the material I love most is oral history. It’s also, on occasion, the only primary source that fills me with personal regret.

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