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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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By tom on 06-23-10

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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Chris on 07-12-09

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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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