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The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War
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The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  104 ratings  ·  11 reviews
4 cassettes / 4 hours
Read by the author, Paul Hendrickson
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Finalist for the Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism
"Meticulous in detail, epic in scope, psychologically sophisticated and spiritually rich, it ranks with The Best and the Brightest and All the President's Men".
--San Francisco Chronicle
More than the two presid
Hardcover, 427 pages
Published September 9th 1996 by Knopf (first published 1996)
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M. Sarki

No kidding, the closer I get to losing my own health and life the more I am drawn far far away to the natural recreational areas surrounding my boyhood home up in northern Michigan. It seems there is little draw for me for the actual town I was born in seeing as though the residents have pretty much destroyed it, or any reason to visit again the house my family spent its better years in together, but the outlying Huron National Forest, the historic Ausable
James Murphy
This is a book about Robert McNamara and the struggle within himself over the enormity of the Vietnam War and the wartime decisions which tested his senses of loyalty and propriety toward those he worked for and the public. Famously Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, he managed the beginnings of military efforts in Vietnam for him and later the big war for Lyndon Johnson and became disillusioned when he realized the war couldn't be won. Near a mental collapse and no longer regarded as an asset, as ...more
Dec 18, 2006 Courtney rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Into History and Politics
Shelves: nonfiction, mustread
An indictment of Robert McNamara (as an isolated, conflicted central figure) and the Vietnam War. Told through the stories of five people deeply affected by the events leading up to and during the war: a conscientious objector who self-immolated outside McNamara's window to protest the war; a combat Marine; an Army nurse; a wealthy Vietnamese family; and an artist who tried to throw McNamara off a ferry. Extremely disturbing and moving as the book develops McNamara's inner conflict along with th ...more
Tony Held
Paul Hendrickson's hatred of Robert S. McNamara ruins this book in my opinion. He claims right and left that McNamara lied but does not give us properly sourced references to back up any of his claims. His stories of the five people affected by the Vietnam War is interesting, but Hendrickson makes a martyr out of Norman Morrison, the man who stood outside McNamara's window at the Pentagon on November 2, 1965, and burned himself alive. Was his sacrifice truly a noble act of defiance, or did it si ...more
Barbara Wolfe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cheryl Gatling
When I read Moneyball, I said, wouldn't it be great if all of life, not just baseball, could be run by what the numbers actually tell us, and not our hidebound notions about things. When I began to read this book, I thought it was going to present the dark underbelly of that idea, the be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. Because Robert S McNamara was just such a numbers guy. His pet field, control accounting, was all about running things by the numbers. After he helped to run the Army Air Forc ...more
I did not like this book. I found it hard to follow, littered with opinions and definitely not what I was hoping for.

I enjoyed parts--like the ones about the people--but that was about it.

I decided I have better things to read and didn't finish the last 50 pages or so.
Hendrickson's book on McNamara weaves together five lives affected by the former Secretary of Defense's prosecution of the Vietnam War. This is a tremendous work, very knowledgeable on the war's dire specifics and suitable for a course in conjunction with other works such as TTTC, Home Before Morning, etc.

Hendrickson made substantial use of the archives of the LBJ Library and Museum.
It was an interesting book. It was a long read for me.
fascinating, insightful. The author did amazing amount of research over a 15 year period. Observing the author's feelings toward his subject was an interesting sidelight.
Katar Hol
Good book, but the author's personal hatred of McNamara clouds his judgment in some areas. A more objective approach would have been better.
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