The Fog of War: Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamaraby James G. Blight, Janet M. Lang
Pub. Date: 03/31/2005
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Robert S. McNamara is one of modern America's most controversial figures. His opinions, policies, and actions have led to a firestorm of debate, ignited most recently by Errol Morris's Academy Award-winning film, The Fog of War. In the companion book, editors James G. Blight and janet M. Lang use lessons from McNamara's life to examine issues of war and peace in
Robert S. McNamara is one of modern America's most controversial figures. His opinions, policies, and actions have led to a firestorm of debate, ignited most recently by Errol Morris's Academy Award-winning film, The Fog of War. In the companion book, editors James G. Blight and janet M. Lang use lessons from McNamara's life to examine issues of war and peace in the 20th century. McNamara's career spans some of America's defining eventsfrom the end of World War I, through the course of World War II, and the unfolding of the Cold War in Cuba, Vietnam, and around the world. The Fog of War brings together film transcripts, documents, dialogues, and essays to explore what the horrors and triumphs of the 20th century can teach us about the future.
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Table of Contents
1 Acknowledgements 2 Authors' Note 3 Prologue: Critical Oral History: Robert McNamara's Road to "The Fog of War" 4 Lesson One: "Empathize with your enemy" 5 Lesson Two: "Rationality will not save us" 6 Lesson Three: "Belief and seeing are both often wrong" 7 Lesson Four: "Proportionality should be a guideline in war" 8 Lesson Five: "Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning" 9 Critical Essays: "I'd rather be damned if I don't" 10 Epilogue: Wilson's Ghost 11 Appendix A: Chronology of the Life and Times of Robert S. McNamara 12 Appendix B: Further Reading and Exploration 13 Credits 14 Acronyms 15 Notes 16 Index 17 About the Authors
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Anonymous purports to review "The Fog of War" by making a gratuitous attack on the authors, blames the book on liberalism, and suggests the authors missed an opportunity to "review important events in American History with someone...actually involved". That seems at best to reveal the ignorance of Anonymous. "The Fog of War" is a deeply insightful view based directly on the experience (and words) of Robert McNamara who was about as involved in both WWII and Vietnam as you can get. McNamara was the 'whiz kid' for Gen. Curtis Lemay in designing the 'efficient way' to level Japanese cities in the infamous firebombing techniques that did far more damage than actually dropping atomic bombs. McNamara then became Secretary of Defense when LeMay wanted to 'nuke' our enemies outright and put a check on that impulse, only to engineer the tragedy of Vietnam with the Kennedy 'Best and Brightest' bunch. "The Fog of War" reveals the insights of a man who actually examined his own life and involvement in the light of history and the facts. This was not 'liberalism'. This was 'truth speaking from power' - an architect of power, in fact, who was able to ask the question, in discussing what a nation chooses to do in its war conduct: "...what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?" That's the question we should ask - no matter one's politics. It used to be a conservative value, for instance, to avoid unnecessary foreign entanglements. Indeed, historically, liberalism was associated with a willingness to engage in such entanglements. We are talking about a man who worked for John Kennedy, after all. But, the modern version of political partisanship has obscured what were once well-defined categories that no longer serve usefully to distinguish what anyone thinks. The best guide now is to ask what someone's opponents think (or at least 'say'), and then expect that person to 'think' the opposite - if that can be called 'thinking' as distinct from merely 'reacting'. If you are still 'thinking', read - and see - "The Fog of War".
I found this book to be extremely disappointing. The authors spend a lot of time defending their past works and refuting work of other historians in a childish 'I told you so' manner, while repeatedly plugging the documentary the Fog of War, which they served as advisers. They discuss Robert McNamara's WWll experience in a negative light. They leave you feeling the United States actions during WWll were evil & inhumane while the actions of the Japanese Empire during WWll are ignored. They missed an opportunity to review important events in American history with somebody who was actually involved in those events. Unfortunately the book is another attempt by liberals to bash the United States of America. Very sad.