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In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam | [Robert S. McNamara]

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

As secretary of defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Robert S. McNamara was one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and particularly of the strategy that propelled the U.S. into the Vietnam War. Though he at first firmly believed that fighting communism in East Asia was worth the loss of American lives, McNamara eventually found himself at odds with other members of the Johnson administration when he came to see the ever-escalating was as unwinnable.
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Publisher's Summary

As secretary of defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Robert S. McNamara was one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and particularly of the strategy that propelled the U.S. into the Vietnam War. Though he at first firmly believed that fighting communism in East Asia was worth the loss of American lives, McNamara eventually found himself at odds with other members of the Johnson administration when he came to see the ever-escalating was as unwinnable.

In the years since he resigned his office, he has until now refused any public comment on the unpopular war with which he was so thoroughly identified. Drawing on his personal experience and a wealth of documentation, McNamara presents a classic insider account of how Vietnam policy grew, of exactly how we stumbled into the war and exactly why it quickly became almost impossible to pull out.

Both personal and historic, his account reveals the trials of leadership, of how a generation's "best and brightest" led our nation into tragedy, and what we can learn from their mistakes.

©1996 Robert S. McNamara; (P)2009 Phoenix

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    tom apopka, FL, United States 06-23-10
    tom apopka, FL, United States 06-23-10 Member Since 2008
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    "What a mess things were..."

    Overall, a good book, but only the introduction is read by McNamara. I was hoping to hear the story in the author's own voice. A good feel for just how screwed up things were in early Vietnam.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Chris Kapolei, HI, USA 07-12-09
    Chris Kapolei, HI, USA 07-12-09
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    "A Cautionary Tale"

    All too often descriptions of the failures of those who waged the Vietnam War achieve patent superficiality and ignore the context of the real threats being balanced before and during the Vietnam War.
    McNamara's memoir is an honest, if frustrating assessment of his and his colleagues' handling of the Vietnam War. A tragic tale of ignorance and misjudgment that should have been heeded prior to our most recent foray into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 11-23-12
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 11-23-12

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "We called it McNamara's war for a reason"

    Especially interesting for those who lived during the 1960s and protested the 'police action', this apology of a sort by Robert McNamara made me more angry than informed. All over again. What a terrible time it was....and here we are doing it all over again.

    I suposed it ought to have been written before the Middle East wars so that something could be learned but I'm sure no one would pay attention to the points that McNamara brings to the table.

    I'm glad I listened to the book once-but I'd never give it 2 listens.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 01-08-12
    David 01-08-12
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    "An interesting hind's sight review."

    An interesting hind's sight review of McNamara's memoir/account as Secretary of Defense during Presidents Kennedy's and Johnson's administrations. Some of the details are a bit obscure, so I am not sure why McNamara needed to put so much minutia in the book, but for the most part I think McNamara comes across as genuine. Maybe he wanted to disclose details that had previously been left untold...? I find it amazing that policymakers and military leaders chose strategies but did not follow through with the logistics and tactics to support the operations. I also find it amazing as to how many decisions were made based on fear of hypothetical scenarios rather than known facts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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