McNAMARA: His Ordeal in the Pentagon by Henry L. Trewhitt

McNAMARA: His Ordeal in the Pentagon

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Trewhitt spent the year 1965 covering the Defense Department for Newsweek, and undoubtedly gained a rare view of the DOD and its chief. But few insights or historical observations emerge: instead we get page after page of fractured newsweekly squibs about McNamara's wit, perspicacity, toughness, humanity, and an ultimate ""conflict between the supremely rational technocrat and the humanist who quoted philosophers and poets."" And so the cliches roll: when McNamara went to the DOD he lost ""millions"" to ""serve"" and gathered a ""team"" which was ""a formidable array of finely-tuned intellects."" The background on McNamara's life -- his youth, education, wartime experience, and work at Ford -- is simply impossible to follow; Trewhitt's disorganized eulogizing gives no interlinear clues, nor even an account of what McNamara actually did. So too in the DOD, McNamara's systems reorganization is so sketchily described as to do the Secretary actual injustice, and dimness reigns through the General Walker flap, the Bay of Pigs, Laos and Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, Skybolt, the multilateral nuclear force, and the B-70, ABM, and C-5A wrangles. A final ordeal: when McNamara gives the TFX to General Dynamics instead of Boeing, the lower bidder, Trewhitt nonchalantly whistles: ""McNamara, understandably, simply will not discuss the point.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1971
Publisher: Harper & Row