Robert S. McNamara, the focus of The Fog of War, an Academy Award–nominated documentary directed by Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line), served as secretary of defense under the two presidents who took the U.S. into Vietnam—John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. One of “the best and the brightest” of America’s leaders, he was a major figure in the war that left 58,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese dead.
McNamara resigned under duress in 1967, and for years was silent about his role in the Vietnam war. But in 1995 he released a memoir, In Retrospect, which rekindled debate about the war and McNamara’s responsibility. He was both applauded for his candor and castigated for his hypocrisy on the op-ed pages of national and international newspapers. The Fog of War brings that discussion to the masses, most of whom are not old enough to remember when the death count in Vietnam was part of the nightly news.