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 McNamara learned that he had to do in order to argue against nuclear weapons?

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

3. When did Kennedy become well known in Washington?

4. How many troops were in Vietnam when Kennedy was assassinated?

5. Whose theories had been used as the basis for expanded militarization in the late 1940s?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What does Halberstam say was Johnson's approach to paying for the war?

3. What crises confronted the Kennedy administration in 1961?

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

5. What was the American government's relationship with Diem in 1961?

6. What was Rolling Thunder and what was its purpose?

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

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

9. What was the result of the Spring Offensive?

10. What program did Maxwell Taylor call for in the paper he wrote on his way back from Vietnam?

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

What must McGeorge Bundy or Robert McNamara or President Johnson have thought about the Vietnam war? Write a journal entry as if you were them.

Essay Topic 3

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"?

(see the answer keys)

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