McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009

Alternative names
Birth 1916-06-09
Death 2009-07-06

Biographical notes:

U.S. secretary of defense, president of World Bank, and corporate executive. Full name: Robert Strange McNamara.

From the description of Robert S. McNamara papers, 1934-2009 (bulk 1968-2005). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71132706

Robert Strange McNamara (b. 1916) was a business executive and Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. During World War II he worked on the deployment of the B-29 bomber, and served in the Army Air Forces in India, China, and the Pacific. He was released from active service in April 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He joined the Ford Motor Company and served in various positions, eventually becoming president of the Ford Motor Company on November 9, 1960. He only served as president for about one month, when President Kennedy appointed him Secretary of Defense. He was sworn in as Secretary of Defense on January 21, 1961, and became heavily preoccupied with the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In 1967, he commissioned a study of American involvement in Vietnam, which eventually became know as the Pentagon Papers. At odds with President Johnson over American policy in Vietnam, he resigned as Secretary of Defense in early 1968. He served as president of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981.

From the description of McNamara, Robert S. (Robert Strange), 1916- (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10580500

Biographical Note

  • 1916, June 9: Born, San Francisco, Calif.
  • 1937: A.B. in economics and philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
  • 1939: M.B.A., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1940: Married Margaret Craig (died 1981)
  • 1940 - 1943 : Assistant professor of business administration, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1943 - 1946 : Served in the U.S. Army Air Force; awarded the Legion of Merit and promoted to lieutenant colonel before being released from active duty
  • 1946 - 1960 : Executive, Ford Motor Co., rapidly promoted through a series of top-level management positions
  • 1960 - 1961 : President, Ford Motor Co.
  • 1961 - 1968 : Secretary of defense
  • 1968: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom Published The Essence of Security. New York: Harper & Row
  • 1968 - 1981 : President, World Bank
  • 1981 - 2006 : Member on the board of directors and advisory councils of various corporations, foundations, and nonprofit organizations focusing on issues of East-West relations, the environment, nuclear arms, population and development in the Third World, and world hunger
  • 1983: Awarded Albert Einstein Peace Prize Awarded Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Medal
  • 1986: Published Blundering into Disaster. New York: Pantheon Books
  • 1989: Published Out of the Cold. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1995: Published with Brian VanDeMark In Retrospect. New York: Times Books
  • 1999: Published with James G. Blight and Robert K. Brigham Argument without End. New York: Public Affairs
  • 2001: Published with James G. Blight Wilson's Ghost. New York: Public Affairs
  • 2003: Interviewed for the documentary film The Fog of War, produced and directed by Errol Morris
  • 2004: Married Diana Masieri
  • 2009, July 6: Died, Washington, D.C.

From the guide to the Robert S. McNamara Papers, 1934-2009, (bulk 1968-2005), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


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Ark ID:


  • World health
  • Education
  • Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
  • Economic development
  • Peace
  • World politics--21st century
  • Arms control
  • Poverty
  • World politics--20th century
  • Population
  • Economic development--Developing countries
  • Hunger--Developing countries
  • War
  • International relations
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Onchocerciasis
  • Security, International
  • Geopolitics
  • Trials (Libel)
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
  • Hunger


  • Cabinet officers
  • Executives


  • Cuba (as recorded)
  • Developing countries. (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Cuba (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Developing countries (as recorded)
  • Vietnam (as recorded)
  • Vietnam (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)