Robert McNamara

Robert McNamara bigraphy, stories - United States Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War

Robert McNamara : biography

June 19, 1916 – July 6, 2009

Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large 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.Radin, Beryl (2000), Beyond Machiavelli : Policy Analysis Comes of Age. Georgetown University Press. McNamara consolidated intelligence and logistics functions of the Pentagon into two centralized agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency.

Prior to 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 is the longest serving Secretary of Defense, amassing 2,595 days between 1961 and 1968.


  • (1968) The Essence of Security: Reflections in Office. New York, Harper & Row, 1968; London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1968. ISBN 0-340-10950-5.
  • (1973) One hundred countries, two billion people: the dimensions of development. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1973. ASIN B001P51NUA
  • (1981) The McNamara years at the World Bank: major policy addresses of Robert S. McNamara, 1968-1981; with forewords by Helmut Schmidt and Léopold Senghor. Baltimore: Published for the World Bank by the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. ISBN 0-8018-2685-3.
  • (1985) The challenges for sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: 1985.
  • (1986) Blundering into disaster: surviving the first century of the nuclear age. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986. ISBN 0-394-55850-2 (hardcover); ISBN 0-394-74987-1 (pbk.).
  • (1989) Out of the cold: new thinking for American foreign and defense policy in the 21st century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. ISBN 0-671-68983-5.
  • (1992) The changing nature of global security and its impact on South Asia. Washington, DC: Washington Council on Non-Proliferation, 1992.
  • (1995) In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. (with Brian VanDeMark.) New York: Times Books, 1995. ISBN 0-8129-2523-8; New York: Vintage Books, 1996. ISBN 0-679-76749-5.
  • (1999) Argument without end: in search of answers to the Vietnam tragedy. (Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, and Robert K. Brigham.) New York: Public Affairs, 1999. ISBN 1-891620-22-3 (hc).
  • (2001) Wilson’s ghost: reducing the risk of conflict, killing, and catastrophe in the 21st century. (Robert S. McNamara and James G. Blight.) New York: Public Affairs, 2001. ISBN 1-891620-89-4.

Early life and career

Robert McNamara was born in San Francisco, California. His father was Robert James McNamara, sales manager of a wholesale shoe company. His mother was Clara Nell (Strange), ,, 6 July 2009, retrieved 6 July, , 6 July 2009, retrieved 6 July 2009 His father’s family was Irish and in about 1850, following the Great Irish Famine, had emigrated to the US, first to Massachusetts and later to, (interview), 23 April 1995, retrieved 31 December 2011 He graduated from Piedmont High School in Piedmont, California in 1933 where he was president of the Rigma Lions boys club1933 Piedmont High Clan-O-Log and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1937 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics with minors in mathematics and philosophy. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity,, , 6 July 2009, retrieved 9 July 2009 was elected to Phi Beta Kappa his sophomore year and earned a varsity letter in crew. He was also a member of the UC Berkeley’s Order of the Golden Bear which was a fellowship of students and leading faculty members formed to promote leadership within the student body. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1939.