Although his name is overshadowed by the Kennedys and Nixons of the world, former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is one of the pivotal figures of the 20th Century.

While he never ascended to the Presidency, McNamara was a key advisor during the Cuban Missile Crisis and one of the architects of the Vietnam War. He planned the 1945 bombing of Tokyo that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, yet held America back from a “first-strike” policy against Russia during the Cold War.

Lauded documentary filmmaker Errol Morris reveals the humanity hidden beneath the surface of his misunderstood and elusive subject. Morris’s prime talent lies not in the interrogation of grand historical figures, but in granting them to an open forum to speak their hearts. He skillfully coaxed the 85 year-old statesman into doing something rare amongst political figures – McNamara admits that many major U.S. foreign policy decisions were wrong.

More than simply the memoirs of a civil servant, Fog of War is a biography of every major political event since the Second World War. The audience can’t help but be touched by the pride and regret of a man who realizes his actions have cost and saved countless human lives.

Further References

Dobbs, Michael. (2008). One minute to midnight: Kennedy, Krushchev and Castro on the brink of nuclear war. NY: Thorndike Press.

  • More than most other titles on the subject, Dobbs draws in the perspective of the Russian side of the equation.  One of the most well-rounded versions of the event that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Kennedy, Robert F. (1969). Thirteen days: a memoir of the Cuban missile crisis. NY: W.W. Norton.

  • This book is a rare opportunity to step behind the veil.  RFK offers a first hand account of the moral and ethical battles by the small group of men who literally had their fingers on “the button”.

Gaddis, John Lewis. (2006). The Cold War: a new history. New York: Penguin Group.

  • Gaddis focuses on the clash of personalities that drove the conflict.  The Cold War was as much a personal battle between the Stalins, Kennedys and Castros of the world as it was a political one.

May, Ernest R. (2002). The Kennedy tapes: inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  NY: W.W. Norton.

  • An excellent companion to Thirteen Days, hear the iconic words that decided the fate of the world.

McNamara, Robert S. (1999). Argument without end: in search of answers to the Vietnam tragedy. Washington: Public Affairs.

  • Perhaps no one in history is better positioned to offer answers to what remains one of the most polarizing conflicts in history.

 

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