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Why Historians Never Trust Their “Sources”

April 18, 2012, 8:56 am

P1 BF789 PORTRA DV 20120416165217I couldn’t resist the scare quotes, sorry. A source may be a source, or it might be a practical joke:

The portrait of “Ensign Chuck Hord,” framed in the heavy gilt typical of government offices, may be the greatest—or perhaps only—prank in Pentagon art history. “Chuck Hord” can’t be found in Navy records of the day. It isn’t even a real painting. The textured, 30-year-old photo is actually of Capt. Eldridge Hord III, 53 years old, known to friends as “Tuck,” a military retiree with a beer belly and graying hair who lives in Burke, Va.

Even as I write, someone’s dissertation on the semiotics of paintings in the Pentagon is having a chapter revised, I’m sure.

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