Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara is the first major biography, and only complete history, of this enigmatic man who has been a towering figure of the twentieth century. Here is the dramatic story of a brilliant but flawed leader who struggled endlessly to reconcile his Berkeley-bred social conscience with his raw drive for power. From his position as the wunderkind president of the Ford Motor Company, to his reign as secretary of defense during the Vietnam War, through his efforts as the president of the World Bank, Deborah Shapley paints an electric portrait of Robert Strange McNamara. To a generation of Americans, the name McNamara spells a nightmare in jungle green: Vietnam. Promise and Power traces how McNamara shaped the American commitment in Vietnam - and his devastating inner realization of his error. McNamara has remained silent on the war since February 1968, when he stepped down as America's secretary of defense, but in this book, for the first time, he admits, "The greatest failure of all was Vietnam." Promise and Power shows, as no other book has, how the moral ambiguity all Americans feel about Vietnam's shocking result is shared by the man who led them there. But McNamara's life story spans a wider swath of our history. Shapley describes his roots in the generation of Americans who came of age in the 1930s, his upbringing in the plain town of Oakland, California, and formative years at the liberal Berkeley campus and Harvard Business School. After World War II, talent and raw ambition pushed him to the top of Ford; he became president in 1960 and reshaped the organization. Yet he fought the company's values, too, and drew up plans to change Ford to meet foreign competition - revealed here for the first time. McNamara's fame as a captain of industry who also read Teilhard de Chardin spurred President-elect John F. Kennedy to name him secretary of defense. With Camelot-inspired activism, McNamara used management controls to revolutionize the American military, revealing the driven man whom the press dubbed "I've-Got-All-the-Answers McNamara." Promise and Power is the first profile of how McNamara was changed by failure and by the discovery all Americans made in the 1970s of the strength and power of the Third World. As president of the World Bank, McNamara marched through slums and shantytowns, holding out the promise of effective aid. He either saved the Third World or lost it, depending, of course, on which government's or banker's view is believed. Promise and Power, featuring exclusive interviews with the subject himself and four hundred other participants, and meticulous research, explores the effects of war and remembrance on this complex figure. Robert McNamara, the private individual and the public technocrat, stands before us, in light and shadow, as a remarkable man whose own promise and power changed America, and the world.