In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

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Vintage Books, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 518 pages
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Robert S. McNamara, secretary of defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, helped lead America into Vietnam. McNamara believed that the fight against communism in Asia was worth the sacrifice of American lives, and yet he eventually came to believe that the war was, in fact, unwinnable. Outnumbered by those who wanted to continue fighting, he left the Johnson administration and his involvement in Vietnam behind. He refused any public comment on the war, and for almost three decades has kept his silence--until now. Drawing on his personal experience and a wealth of documentation--much of it only recently declassified and some presented here for the first time ever--McNamara has crafted the classic insider account of Vietnam policy making. He reveals exactly how we stumbled into the war, and exactly why it quickly became so difficult to pull out. McNamara takes us into the Oval Office for late-night discussions with the president, into the halls of the Pentagon as military strategy is argued, and into the chambers of Congress as policy is debated. He also reveals his own inner torment as the war effort becomes increasingly frustrating, and then utterly disastrous. The result is a book that is not only history of the highest order, but also revealing portrait of the trials of leadership.--Adapted from publisher description.

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User Review  - carterchristian1 - LibraryThing

An essential resource for history of the U.S. participation in the Vietnam war. McNamara gives candid assessments of Johnson and other American participants. Frequently he lays out a situation then ... Read full review

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User Review  - cwhouston - LibraryThing

If only more key decision makers on the world stage would make similar literary undertakings. This is RS McNamara's account of his early career and subsequent term as Secretary of Defence under ... Read full review


january 19 19611ugust23 1963 29
August 8 1964_anuary 27 1965
The Christmas Bombing Pause
The Lessons of Vietnam
The Nuclear Risks of the 1960s and Their Lessons for
nuclear weapons and a heightened understanding of the risks
Mr McNamaras War 353
The Abuse of McNamara
We Can All Learn from McNamaras Remorse
Selected Bibliography of Published Works

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About the author (1996)

Robert S. McNamara was secretary of defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, president of the Ford Motor Company, and president of the World Bank. After leaving the World Bank he was active in economic development efforts across the globe and in the arms control and non-proliferation movements. He died in 2009.

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