Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Best and the Brightest Paperback – October 26, 1993
|New from||Used from|
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
--from the Foreword by Senator John McCain
"The most comprehensive saga of how America became involved in Vietnam. . . . [I]t is also The Iliad of the American empire and The Odyssey of this nation’s search for its idealistic soul."
--The Boston Globe
"Seductively readable. . . . [I]t is a staggeringly ambitious undertaking that is fully matched by Halberstam’s perfor-mance."
"A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience."
--The New York Times
From the Publisher
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.
-Kelly Lamb, Marketing Coordinator
Top Customer Reviews
Halberstam already had a wealth of personal experience as a correspondent in Vietnam before initiating the research for this book, and he draws a number of fascinating, intimate, and quite absorbing in-depth portraits of the major figures involved in this fool's errand formerly referred to as French Indochina. From the feckless and perhaps clueless Robert McNamara to McGeorge Bundy, brother William Bundy, former Oxford Scholar Dean Rusk, George Ball, William Westmoreland, Maxwell Taylor, and Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, all these alumni of the best schools and best families (with the single exception of LBJ, an accidental president) pranced their pseudo-macho way toward the single most disastrous series of military decisions this side of Pearl Harbor.
Unlike those of us who actually saw the jungles of Vietnam up close and personal, these men were neither ignorant, nor provincial (at least not in the ordinary use of that term), nor poorly informed; rather, they both considered themselves and were considered by others to be the most outstanding, capable, and effective members of the contemporary "Power Elite" i.e.Read more ›
I first read it in 1973 or 1974. It blew my mind that 'the best and the brightest' could act as they did, whether from honest but gross misjudgments to outright lies, most often bound with incredible arrogance.
Some of the material is found in the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's own study of the war. Another reviewer commented that they had not yet been published, but Halberstam, ace that he was, apparently had access to them.
This book provided another, and large, nail in the coffin of my naive idealism of someone growing up in post WWII America (college, class of 1966) with respect to the US government.
I was totally absorbed when reading it. Halberstam does occasionally overuse some of his pet phrasings,e.g. 'rare ability'.
This book is all about the men (the best and the brightest) who mired this nation in Vietnam. It's also about other men, men like John Peyton Davies, perhaps the State Department's best Asian expert, purged from public service after the McCarthy juggernaut swept through the country. It's also about applying the wrong lessons of history to wrong problems: Kennedy and Johnson learned from Munich that nations shrink from "tyranny" at their own peril, and therefore decided to confront the "tyranny" of North Vietnam communism, which, according to Halberstam, was simply nationalism -- the extension of their colonial wars of the 1950s. Men like Davies would have realized this, and then warned against intervention; but men like Davies, ostensibly "soft" on communism, had already been run out of Washington (during the Vietnam War, Davies, the man Halberstam uses to personify the flight of those who really understood the intentions of North Vietnam, was making furniture in Peru). Men like McNamara, the Bundys, and Dean Rusk, despite their rationalism and considerable mental horsepower, didn't get this. Nor did they understand how to bring themselves (and the country) back once they'd stepped beyond the brink.
For all its quality and insight, the book makes a little much of the "establishment" credentials of the war's architects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Must read for anyone interested in history. Tremendous insights into how personalities shape history. Important lessons for Americans on the limits of power.Published 1 month ago by James L. Liang
it's well written, VERY detailed and long. However , if you were ever really curious how the United States decided to get involved with Viet Nam, this is what you need to read.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Hey Amazon! The excellent author, David Halberstam does not live in New York as your site indicates. HE IS DEAD and has been since 2007. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Cassity
A great look at how smart and powerful people can lie to themselves to everyone's detriment. Very informative and pertinent to today's era.Published 2 months ago by Kyle Berryhill
Got about 1/4 of the way through, then realized I needed to read 'The Making of a Quagmire'. Stuff you read 4 or 5 pages, then you put it down, and think about it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Richard Rowe
Although written 40 years ago it still provides the insights into how we managed to get mired into Vietnam. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joseph Schlosser
I was expecting to be captivated by an insightful analysis of decision-making under pressure at the highest levels. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a sobering narrative when we debate the war on terrorism today and debate which of the Presidential candidates we want to lead our country over the next four years. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer