I saw the trailer for this when I went to see Van Helsing, it stood out because I hadn’t seen it before. Yes the gorram “day after tomorrow” trailer was showing. But the trailer for this doc. really interested me.
Now I may have studied history at college, but all I really now about the cold war comes from that Kevin Costner film (no not JFK), Thirteen Days and to be honest I hadn’t really paid that much attention to the film. The parents had rented it, and I was in the middle of a book.
Obviously I had heard of the Cold War, and vaguely knew how close the world had come to being destroyed, but this doc really puts it into perspective, and I came out horrified.
Now I don’t know anything about the man at the heart of this film (Robert McNamara), but he came across as very smart, and had a lot of insightful comments.
The documentary covers his earliest life story, through war. From the end of WWI when he was two, and his recollections of the celebrations, and the flu epidemic, through WWII and his analysis of the bombing runs, into the Cold War when he was part of the Kennedy administration, and coming to a close with the Vietnam war.
If I had a better memory I would quote loads of what he said, instead I’m just going to list his eleven life lessons:
* Lesson #1: Empathize with your enemy.
* Lesson #2: Rationality will not save us.
* Lesson #3: There’s something beyond one’s self.
* Lesson #4: Maximize efficiency.
* Lesson #5: Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
* Lesson #6: Get the data.
* Lesson #7: Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
* Lesson #8: Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
* Lesson #9: In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
* Lesson #10: Never say never.
* Lesson #11: You can’t change human nature.
This is a fascinating look at both McNamara’s life, but also at how peoples and societies come into conflict with each other. I would recommend this to anyone with even the slightest interest in history, and current affairs.