The Best and the Brightest Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Who was Kennedy's military analyst on the 1961 fact-finding mission?

2. Why didn't Kennedy offer the position of Secretary of State to J. William Fulbright?

3. What does Halberstam say happened that strained the relationship between Diem and the Buddhists?

4. How many soldiers had the U.S. sent to Vietnam in its first commitment of troops?

5. What does Halberstam say marked the end of the generals' faith in Diem?

Short Essay Questions

1. What were Americans beginning to say with regard to Diem after the Buddhist monk problems began?

2. What crises confronted the Kennedy administration in 1961?

3. What does Halberstam say Kennedy was confronted with at the beginning of "The Best and the Brightest"?

4. What was McNamara's stance with regard to nuclear weapons?

5. Why does Halberstam say Chester Bowles' popularity faded?

6. Describe the confrontation in Laos.

7. Describe U.S. engagements in Vietnam in the 1950s.

8. How did the meeting between Lovett and Kennedy play in the press?

9. What does Halberstam say was Robert McNamara's background before becoming Secretary of Defense?

10. What does Halberstam say was McNamara's relationship with Kennedy?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Describe Halberstam as a biographer and historian. What are his preoccupations? What does he not consider? What are his narrative techniques, and what literary techniques does he use to describe the people and actions that comprise "The Best and the Brightest"?

Essay Topic 2

Compare and contrast the strategies of Robert McNamara and General Westmoreland for bombing and search-and-destroy missions. What were the costs and benefits of either approach to the war against the Vietcong? Were they complementary, or did they work at cross-purposes?

Essay Topic 3

Compare and contrast John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson's strategies for handling the war in Vietnam. How did they negotiate the complex mixture of voices within the U.S. government in similar ways? How were they different? How did the changes in conditions in the U.S. and in Vietnam account for Johnson's different strategies?

(see the answer keys)

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