The Best and the Brightest is David Halberstam’s masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy. Using portraits of America’s flawed. IN , David Halberstam wrote a new introduction for the 20th-anniversary edition of “The Best and the Brightest,” his classic history of the. “A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience.” — The New York Times “[ The] most comprehensive saga of how America became involved.

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The Vietnam War has seemed more shadowy and cinematic to me than anything else for most of my life. I was born during the Watergate Hearings. My generation was touched by the war in Vietnam, but only in the sense that our parents were part of it–whether they marched for peace or served in the military or fell somewhere in between. But unlike the Baby Boomers, we are not defined by the war–it, literally and figuratively, did not make us.

So, as a consequence, when I think of the Vietnam War it is the images that the generations before me created that come to mind–Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon When I read The Best and the Brightest, that all changed. For the first time, I understood. No matter what your position may have been or may be, this book fully and expertly explores the American foreign policy decisions and actions that led to this war and its execution and paints a clear picture of its catalytic role in the shaping of today’s America.

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It is also the Iliad of the American empire and the Odyssey of this nation’s search for its idealistic soul.

We cannot help but feel the compelling power of this narrative. Dramatic and tragic, a chain of events overwhelming in their force, a distant war embodying illusions and myths, terror and violence, confusions and courage, blindness, pride, and arrogance. Read more Read less. Add all three to Cart Add all three to List. Buy the selected items together This item: Ships from and sold by Amazon.

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America and the Korean War. Review “For anyone who aspires to a position of national leadership, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, this book should be mandatory reading. Ballantine Books; Anniversary edition October 26, Language: Start reading The Best and the Brightest on your Kindle in hlberstam a minute.

Don’t have a Kindle? Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other brighest. Write a customer review. See all customer images. Read reviews that mention best and the brightest vietnam war david halberstam southeast asia robert mcnamara kennedy and johnson state department united states read this book foreign halbesrtam dean rusk white house lyndon johnson mcgeorge bundy well written key players south vietnam george ball vietnam kennedy administration.


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I was just as impressed with it this time as I was forty years ago. David Halberstam was a journalist and author who reported from Vietnam for the New York Times in the early s. He intended his title to be ironic, not literal. They were mostly graduates from Ivy League schools, many with Ph. Men who prided themselves on straight talk. And yet, these men slowly and steadily entangled the United States in a war on the Asian mainland that they knew, from both the warnings they received and from bitter experience, they had little chance of winning.

And once they got America entangled in Vietnam, they mismanaged the war and deceived the American people about it, and left the nation torn asunder by divisions that exist to this day. If you only read one book about this subject, this is the book to read. This is an exceptionally well-written book about the way John F. Kennedy’s idealistically selected cabinet dragged us down the muddy, dirty, twisted road and into the Vietnam conflagration.

McNamara in this debacle, so critically or accurately portrayed. Halberstam treats a number of critical subplots, too, such as the destruction of the “flexible response advocates” among the junior officer corps by Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense, the lamentable “Engine Charlie” Wilson, or the enmity between distinguished paratroop commanders Maxwell Taylor and James Gavin, or LBJ’s complete consternation with Kennedy’s Undersecretary of State for Southeast Asia, the decorated veteran of Merrill’s Marauders and the OSS, Roger Hilsman arguably the only man in the administration who knew anything at all about Southeast Asia in General and Vietnam in particular.

The Best and the Brightest

An added value of Halberstam’s treatment comes in the form of his detailed, insightful and assiduous character studies of all the principals, from nominal Republican McGeorge Bundy, the only non-PhD ever to serve as Harvard’s Dean of the Undergraduate school, to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, intellectually despised by his mentor, Dean Acheson.

This work is a must-read for anyone interested in both the Kennedy administration and in the question of how we got snookered into this impossible war in the first place. This is the seminal work relating to how we got ourselves immersed in Vietnam.

I’m a Vietnam Veteran, and I have always thought our reasons for being there were misguided at best. In this exhaustive look at the gradual build-up to the maximum troop levels init is apparent that our reasons were much less than misguided. It makes me angry that many good people died in this war, this senseless, stupid exercise of power gone awry.


It is very sad not only that the Vietnam War occurred, it is very apparent that we fail to learn from the lessons of history read: This is another outstanding book by the late David Halberstam, well written and researched. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and learning so much about the Vietnam War years, I found myself saddened by the needless loss of 58, of my generation.

Three of those from my high school, whose names I have visited several times on the Wall in Washington D. Their faces were constantly in the back of my mind as I read about the flawed decisions and hubris that brought us into a war of choice. The most important thing to remember who The most important thing to remember when reading is that the title “Best and Brightest The over whelming virtues of those who led us into this debacle were arrogance, ignorance and naivete.

Despite their privileged, New England, Ivy League pedigrees and education, they were clueless. Yet they were perfectly willing to continue expanding and escalating the war, i. Face which they arrogantly and cynically attempted to equate with saving America’s face.

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