Analysis of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Famous Quotation Essay

Analysis of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Famous Quotation Essay

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Most things are paid for in words, and they alone can get you out of an insufferable situation. Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara once said, “Coercion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him.” In order to grasp the meaning of this quotation, a judicious analysis with sharp observation of the events surrounding these words are required. It is necessary to provide a brief biography of Robert McNamara, an overview of the event that influenced the speech, a discussion of his intended audience and an overview of the speech itself.
First, it is necessary to plunge into the life of Robert McNamara. In her book, Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara, Deborah Shapley described McNamara as, “a devious tactician and a man of sincere and noble goals” (xvi). He was born in San Francisco, California on June 9, 1916 (6). His father, western regional manager of a shoe company, was a man of rigid self-discipline and routine (6). His mother, a devout Protestant, was a homemaker who kept unusual statistics of Roberts’s early development (6). From his parents, McNamara learned “moral purpose and raw ambition” (11). His mother was extremely motivated to nurture her children in a way that would motivate them to climb the social and economic ladder (9).
Through his teenage years, McNamara attended Piedmont High and made the honor society (11). During this time he also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout (11). By the time he finished high school, Robert, “was schooled in an image of manhood in which a lack of emotion was admired and coldness was desirable” (11).
In the fall of 1933 McNamara attended University of California, Berkley (11). He was pledged by Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was appointed warden to...


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McElderry, Michael. “Robert S. McNamara Papers” Manuscript Division, Library of
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McNamara, Robert S. “Security In The Contemporary World.” American Society of
Newspaper Editors. Montreal, Canada, May 18th, 1966. Web. 26 March 2014.
Shapley, Deborah. Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara.
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The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. Dir. Errol
Morris. Perf. Robert McNamara. Sony Pictures Classics, 2003. Film

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