I’ll Stand Over Your Grave Till I’m Sure that You’re Dead

There are reports that Robert McNamara, perhaps the most morally compromised member of the Johnson administration, has died at 93. I'll be listening to Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" later this morning as a memorial. The best brief account you're likely to find of McNamara's life is Paul Hendrickson's The Living and the Dead, which begins with an account of McNamara's upbringing, then tells the stories of five Americans whose lives were exploded by McNamara's policies in Vietnam. [More informationon on McNamara here; Charlie Rose interview with Hendrickson; Errol Morris's film about McNamara, The Fog of War.]

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “I’ll Stand Over Your Grave Till I’m Sure that You’re Dead”

  1. BBC Radio 4 is trailing an upcoming profile of McNamara with a soundbite in which he’s saying, almost, one senses, with a chuckle in his voice, that it was through pure luck that nuclear war was avoided during two administrations he served so faithfully.

    ‘Masters Of War’, Joseph, with its sustained, barely controlled anger leading up to that final devastating verse, is the perfect black threnody to mark his passing. I’ll join you.

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