On Nov. 29, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson announced that Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense, would leave his post to run the World Bank. “I do not know to this day whether I quit or was fired,” McNamara wrote decades later. “Maybe it was both.”
It’s actually quite clear: He was fired. But he wasn’t the only one who was confused. The conditions of McNamara’s departure from the Pentagon were murky at the time — and that murkiness speaks volumes about McNamara, Johnson and the domestic politics of the Vietnam War.
Story: Fredrik Logevall, Photo: Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images