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

2. What policies had Robert Lovett been involved in crafting?

3. What issue did Joseph McCarthy use to energize voters?

4. What had McNamara done by the time he took over as Secretary of Defense?

5. How did the Kennedy administration see the war in Vietnam?

Short Essay Questions

1. Who was Robert A. Lovett, and what does Halberstam say he signified for Kennedy?

2. What was the Kennedy administration's stance with regard to Russia?

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

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

5. Who was Dean Rusk, and what was his role and place in the Kennedy administration?

6. Who was Chester Bowles, and what did Kennedy get by tapping Bowles to be an adviser?

7. Why didn't the U.S. gain the loyalty of the Vietnamese peasants?

8. Who was Robert McNamara and what was his role in the formation of Vietnam policy?

9. Describe the confrontation in Laos.

10. Who was Kennedy, and how did he become well known?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama share certain similarities, insofar as they were both young and charismatic leaders with relatively little experience, but represented a new way of doing things. Compare and contrast the early political careers and elections of these two presidents. How were they temperamentally similar? How did they relate to the old guard? How were their ascensions different?

Essay Topic 2

Write a critical review of "The Best and the Brightest": what does Halberstam do well, and what parts of the book are not well-executed? Considering recent revelations regarding the war, how prescient was Halberstam in his history?

Essay Topic 3

How did the Vietnam war affect the U.S. government's bureaucratic organization? Analyze Halberstam's history and describe the changes that were made in the roles and structure of the government as a result of or in reaction to the situation in Vietnam. How did Kennedy and Johnson create special positions or grant special powers to individuals around them? How did the system of checks and balances work in relationship to the privacy and secrecy of the war planners?

(see the answer keys)

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