Vietnam, and of the book that best explains how we got there. That's not a bad thing. than to read and reread David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest. The best and the brightest. by: Halberstam, David. Publication date For print- disabled users. Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files. The Best And The Brightest. by: Halberstam, David. Publication date: Collection Collectionid: TheBestAndTheBrightest. Identifier.
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[PDF DOWNLOAD] The Best and the Brightest [Ebook, EPUB, site] By David Halberstam Book Details. Author: David Halberstam. Pages: pages. Read The Best and the Brightest PDF - by David Halberstam Ballantine Books | A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience. Book Synopsis The Best and the Brightest is David Halberstam's masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy.
Unless otherwise noted, all references to the book will be from the original hardcover edition. Previewed in two national magazines, hardcover and paperback sales totaled nearly 1.
When it was first published, with one notable exception, it was met with nearly universal critical acclaim from every quarter. For about two decades, this book served as the standard popular reference work on U. It had such a large impact on the American psyche that it created the way that many Americans saw the war.
The book also forged a paradigm through which other authors wrote about the war.
The best and the brightest
It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that The Best and the Brightest created a sort of Jungian cyclorama which America stood in front of and visualized the tale of U. As the s wore on, Johnson continued to over-commit until he had more than a half million U.
McCarthy felt that Halberstam had rigged the deck to make it seem that way. She felt that Johnson could have gotten out before he escalated, but that withdrawal for LBJ was never a serious option. But there are other pertinent questions relevant to how and why Halberstam framed The Best and The Brightest the way he did.
They include: how did he begin writing the book, and why did his perceptions change from to ?
Securing an advance from Random House, he spent the next four years writing the book. The latter were taking to the streets to protest the thousands of young Americans dying in the rice paddies of Vietnam, before they were even old enough to vote at home.
Halberstam took notice and altered his viewpoint. Americans wanted to read about how their country got involved in an epic foreign disaster. Halberstam gave that to them and more. In its original hardcover printing, the book runs to pages of text. It has a six-page bibliography, which is divided up chronologically. But the heart and soul of The Best and the Brightest is the legwork the author did in securing scores of interviews that pepper the book. It is not footnoted.
Therefore, a reader does not know where the information comes from. Does it emerge from another book, magazine article, or an interview? Even worse, Halberstam decided not to list the names of the people he talked to. It would have been especially instructive to know where the author was getting his information because, in the wake of the Vietnam disaster, many people were desperate to cover their tracks and spin the facts.
Secondly, he had talked to Daniel Ellsberg and had been subpoenaed by a grand jury in the Pentagon Papers case. Yet, because of the overall thesis of the book and its reliance on anonymous self-interested accounts the lack of disclosure regarding interview subjects represents a serious failing.
Another shortcoming of The Best and the Brightest is that it gives short-shrift to what came before Kennedy and Johnson. This crucial period of early American involvement covers 11 years, but Halberstam devotes only 19 pages to it. There have been entire books written about this early U.
Halberstam’s ‘Best-Brightest’ Blunder
To see, click here. This U. With the outbreak of war in Korea in June , the U. By , the U.
Eisenhower and Dulles also gave the French air cover in and This mission was a much smaller version of what the French had requested from Dulles, and which Vice President Richard Nixon had agreed to. The bombing included a contingency plan to use three tactical atomic weapons. How close did it come to happening?
Reconnaissance flights were done by the Air Force over the proposed bombing site, but President Eisenhower decided he needed approval from London to go ahead with the mission. That was not forthcoming. So, Ike vetoed the plan.
The Brightest Are Not Always the Best
Dulles coordinated what was essentially a damage-control operation. The key point in the peace agreement was that Vietnam was to be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel and free elections were to be held in to unify the country under one leader.
The Catholic exodus also fit with the larger plan of the man whom the Dulles brothers put in charge of the operation, master black operator Ed Lansdale.
He had decided that the French stand-in, Bao Dai, had to go.
Lansdale searched for a substitute acceptable to Washington and found the future president of South Vietnam at Michigan State, Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic who also had been a French sympathizer. Being a well-read and perceptive intellectual, John F Kennedy was well aware of Tuchmann's insights, and, after being humbled by the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, successful used them to avert nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
However, in one of those little ironies of history, he was completely unable to avoid following a similar path of small but irreversible escalations in Vietnam, until the full-on war he had been trying to avoid eventually trapped his successors and millions of people in the senseless slaughter of the Vietnam War. I think Halberstam's book is easily as perceptive, in broad terms, as Tuchmann's classic.
Tuchmann is only cited once, briefly, but even though this book, written in , had a much closer vantage point to its still-active subject than The Guns of August, and hence is closer to unusually detailed and eloquent journalism than a straight-up history, Halberstam observes and recounts all the same organizational pathologies that plagued the French General Staff and the Prussian High Command that were still present in the American political and military leadership.
One thing above all that this book does, alluded to in its title, is shatter the illusion that the only thing you need to face big problems is to acquire smart people. There are endless sections chronicling the brilliance and acuity of people like Robert McNamara, who could revolutionize vast domains like the auto industry, but were unable to figure out how to get themselves out of the Vietnam trap or even to make anything close to progress in any direction. Even lesser characters, like the legions of assistant deputy sub-under-secretaries who seem to be pretty bright fellows, managed closely and carefully by a White House that rewarded and encouraged cleverness, spend vast quantities of their page time engaged in self-destructive internecine struggles about whether to report bad news and how much, while the country whose destiny they were trying to determine slowly slipped out of their grasp.
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Men who had gone to the best schools, who had racked up acclaimed careers in industry or finance or the military, who had smoothly ascended through the toughest jungles of the American elite, were unable to conjure a victory against one of the smallest, weakest, and poorest countries in the world. The struggles of these dramatis personae are told through extended profiles, which are the major highlights of the book due to their length and detail. It's impossible to overstate the role that McCarthyism specifically, and anti-Communism generally, played in leading the US to the war.
There is a lot of discussion of meetings and reports and what was and was not covered in them. The positions of the various players in the different administrations are presented as well as the public stances for political reasons.
There is also talk of the misrepresenting of statistics by various entities to cover the true situation of the deterioration that was taking place and of the failure of various programs in South Vietnam.
Halberstam's book shows the depth of his research and indicates the amount of interviewing he did for the book. The Best and the Brightest is written in an objective and factual manner, even though it is lengthy. He covers the topic thoroughly and it is a good book for people wanting to know the story of Vietnam and how the United States became involved in Indochina. This section contains words approx.What's interesting, though, are not any key decisions or decision-makers, but the pattern that emerges, a phenomenon we might call The Fallacy of the Misplaced Center.
Halberstam took notice and altered his viewpoint. Ignoring Inconvenient Truth Halberstam knew all of this. But he also wrote a number of books that were concerned with contemporary history. For all his idealism, he was no better and perhaps in his hubris a little worse than the institution he headed. Each one was turned down. McCarthy felt that Halberstam had rigged the deck to make it seem that way. We have seen him at Yale where he was Number One and where he accepted the invitation to join the secret societies his friend Kingman Brewster turned down.
But Kennedy insisted on it.
Reception[ edit ] The book was highly acclaimed when it was released.