I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History


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In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, centrist Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon s secretary of defense. It was not, Laird knew, a move likely to endear him to the American public but as he later said, Nixon couldn t find anybody else who wanted the damn job. For the next four years, Laird deftly navigated the morass of the war he had inherited. Lampooned as a missile head, but decisive in crafting an exit strategy, he doggedly pursued his program of Vietnamization, initiating the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and gradually ceding combat responsibilities to South Vietnam. In fighting to bring the troops home faster, pressing for more humane treatment of POWs, and helping to end the draft, Laird employed a powerful blend of disarming Midwestern candor and Washington savvy, as he sought a high moral road bent on Nixon s oft-stated (and politically instrumental) goal of peace with honor.
The first book ever to focus on Laird s legacy, this authorized biography reveals his central and often unrecognized role in managing the crisis of national identity sparked by the Vietnam War and the challenges, ethical and political, that confronted him along the way. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Laird, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and numerous others, author Dale Van Atta offers a sympathetic portrait of a man striving for open government in an atmosphere fraught with secrecy. Van Atta illuminates the inner workings of high politics: Laird s behind-the-scenes sparring with Kissinger over policy, his decisions to ignore Nixon s wilder directives, his formative impact on arms control and health care, his key role in the selection of Ford for vice president, his frustration with the country s abandonment of Vietnamization, and, in later years, his unheeded warning to Donald Rumsfeld that it s a helluva lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one. Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association"

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Walter Mirisch’s love of movies led him to make some of the best films that the industry has produced. Whether as producer or as an executive of one of the best production companies in town, he has seen it all and now can tell it all to you from his own fiercely independent perspective.”—Steven Spielberg

“From Bomba, the Jungle Boy to Some Like It Hot and In the Heat of the Night . . . Walter Mirisch produced many of the films which dazzled and inspired me (and I’m not kidding about Bomba. I loved those movies as a kid.)When I later acted in one of his (lesser) productions, The Spikes Gang, I learned that a prolific and brilliant producer could also be a terrific guy and a wonderful teacher.No surprise then that Walter has given us a wise and utterly engrossing look at his life . . . and extraordinary experiences in this film business.”—Ron Howard

“Walter Mirisch has written the quintessential behind-the-scenes book on the glory days of Hollywood. If you ever wanted to know everything there was to know, this will surely be touted as a ‘bible’ of our industry—for Walter tells it as it really was, with the integrity for which he is known and loved. It is an engaging story; insightful and entertaining, poignant with personal anecdotes.”—Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards

“Quite a read. . . . In Mirisch’s moving, candid, star-filled memoir—illustrated with rare photos from his personal collection—he tells a lifetime’s worth of astounding stories about how movies get made and shares his hard-won insight with gentle humor.”—On Wisconsin

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299226404
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 02/08/2008
Series: Wisconsin Film Studies
Edition description: 1
Pages: 408
Sales rank: 799,145
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.26(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

“Legendary producer, visionary filmmaker, courageous seeker of truth, especially in troubling times.”—Sidney Poitier, from the foreword

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