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Argument Without End:; In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy

McNamara, Robert S.; Blight, James G.; and Brigham, Robert K. (Robert Kendall)

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ISBN 10: 1891620223 / ISBN 13: 9781891620225
Published by Public Affairs, New York, 1999
Condition: Very good Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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xxiii, [5], 479, [5 pages. Illustration. Maps. Appendices. Notes. Index. DJ has slight wear and soiling. Minor edge soiling. Signed by all three authors on fep! Also written with Thomas J. Biersteker and Col. Herbert Y. Schandler. Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 - July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, during which time he played a major role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Following that, he served as President of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981. McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis. McNamara consolidated intelligence and logistics functions of the Pentagon into two centralized agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency. Prior to his public service, McNamara was one of the "Whiz Kids" who helped rebuild Ford Motor Company after World War II and briefly served as Ford's President before becoming Secretary of Defense. A group of advisors he brought to the Pentagon inherited the "Whiz Kids" moniker. McNamara remains the longest serving Secretary of Defense, having remained in office over seven years. Over a period of four years, in six unprecedented meetings held in Hanoi and a seventh meeting in Italy, McNamara, his colleagues in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and America's top Vietnam and military scholars finally met with their Vietnamese counterparts. Did the Vietnam War have to happen? And why couldn't it have ended earlier? These are among the questions that Robert McNamara and his collaborators ask in "Argument Without End, " a book that will stand as a major contribution to what we know about the Vietnam War. Drawing on a series of meetings that brought together, for the first time ever, senior American and Vietnamese officials who had served during the war, the book looks at the many instances in which one side, or both, made crucial mistakes that led to the war and its duration. Using Vietnamese and Chinese documents, many never before made public, McNamara reveals both American and Vietnamese blunders, and points out ways in which such mistakes can be avoided in the future. He also shows conclusively that war could not be won militarily by the United States.McNamara's last book on Vietnam was one of the most controversial books ever published in this country. This book will reignite the passionate debate about the war, about McNamara, and about the lessons we can take away from the tragedy. Bookseller Inventory # 73466

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Argument Without End:; In Search of Answers ...

Publisher: Public Affairs, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very good

Edition: First Edition [stated].

About this title


The former Secretary of Defense, and leading scholars from the U.S. and Vietnam, offer groundbreaking new study of exactly how the Vietnam War happened-and why it could not be stopped before millions died.

Drawing on an array of recently declassified documents and a series of unprecedented meetings with former top North Vietnamese leaders, Argument Without End re-frames the war and the decision-making that surrounded it. It draws surprising conclusions, many of which debunk conventional wisdom and which will no doubt cause debate among scholars, journalists, veterans, military personnel, and ordinary Americans who lived through the war era. Like no other book before it, Argument Without End allows us to look at the decisions that led to the war and to its tragic, ultimately pointless continuation. It also shows conclusively that the war could not be won militarily by the United States. One of the most important works on Vietnam to be published, Argument Without End is also a book of lasting relevance to all who seek to quell the conflicts between nations.


Between 1995 and 1998, Robert S. McNamara led a series of blunt conversations between American and Vietnamese scholars and officials. "The discussions were frank and tough throughout, as befits the first-ever discussion by former enemies of this tragic war," writes McNamara, author of the controversial bestseller In Retrospect and the U.S. secretary of defense from 1961 to 1968. "Had this dialogue occurred in real time, rather than in retrospect, I believe the tragedy could have been prevented." That's probably an overstatement, but it's a useful starting point for this inquiry, in which many contributors probe the causes of the war and try to draw lessons from them.

The structure of Argument Without End is unconventional, with McNamara writing introductions and conclusions to most of the chapters, which sometimes read like excerpts of transcripts and often like pieces of analytical history. Readers will get the sense of observing a graduate-level seminar on the war, with some of its most knowledgeable participants and critics making presentations. The result is a provocative text eager to challenge assumptions. McNamara's presence hangs over everything--this really is his book, despite the numerous coauthors sharing credit--and his sense of optimism is eerie. "Both Hanoi and Washington could have accomplished their purposes without the appalling loss of life," he writes. A statement like that shows 20/20 hindsight, yet it's an awfully candid remark from a man who had much to do with America's humiliation in Southeast Asia. This is an important contribution to our understanding of that terrible conflict. --John J. Miller

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