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‘I Made Mistakes’
Robert McNamara's Vietnam War Policy, 1960–1968


Part of Cambridge Studies in US Foreign Relations

  • Date Published: March 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108415538

£ 39.99

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About the Authors
  • Speaking to an advisor in 1966 about America's escalation of forces in Vietnam, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara confessed: 'We've made mistakes in Vietnam … I've made mistakes. But the mistakes I made are not the ones they say I made'. In 'I Made Mistakes', Aurélie Basha i Novosejt provides a fresh and controversial examination of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara's decisions during the Vietnam War. Although McNamara is remembered as the architect of the Vietnam War, Novosejt draws on new sources - including the diaries of his advisor and confidant John T. McNaughton - to reveal a man who resisted the war more than most. As Secretary of Defense, he did not want the costs of the war associated with a new international commitment in Vietnam, but he sacrificed these misgivings to instead become the public face of the war out of a sense of loyalty to the President.

    • Offers an important update to the literature on the Vietnam War by arguing that Robert S. McNamara aggressively pushed for withdrawal from the war
    • Places McNamara's decisions in the context of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and bridges diplomatic history with economic history
    • Provides new evidence - including diaries kept by McNamara's closest advisor - documenting McNamara's frustrations over the war and around his decisions and attitudes towards it
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Basha's careful account of McNamara's Vietnam policies is a terrible indictment not just of the policies but of McNamara's moral failure in prizing loyalty over lives. How he defined his job dictated his failures. Recommended reading for all future defense secretaries.' Kori Schake, Deputy Director-General, The International Institute for Strategic Studies

    'I didn't think there could be much more to say about Robert McNamara and the escalation of America's war in Vietnam, but Aurélie Basha i Novosejt has proven otherwise. In this boldly original book, she forces us to revisit basic assumptions about an important but enigmatic figure. By showing that economic concerns were paramount, by considering counterinsurgency from a different angle, and by emphasizing previously neglected institutional changes within the Pentagon, Basha is able to shed new light on the subject. But even more, by revealing that McNamara opposed the war at its very beginning, even as he was planning its expansion, Basha is able to reveal the ultimate price of loyalty.' Andrew Preston, University of Cambridge

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108415538
    • length: 338 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of abbreviations
    1. The history of the OSD, 1947–1961
    2. Civilian control
    3. Continuity and change
    4. Taking charge of Vietnam policy
    5. When military problems become economic problems
    6. The fall of 1963
    7. McNamara's transition into the Johnson administration
    8. Decisions, indecisions, visions and revisions
    9. McNamara in crisis, 1966–1968
    Appendix 1: Cast of characters

  • Author

    Aurélie Basha i Novosejt, London School of Economics
    Aurélie Basha i Novosejt is a Lecturer in American History at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

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