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 state does Halberstam say the Vietcong were in when Kennedy sent the fact-finding mission in 1961?

2. Why didn't Kennedy offer the position of Secretary of State to David Bruce?

3. What was Kennedy's position on the Cold War policies of his predecessors?

4. Where did the first confrontation take place in Indochina?

5. What family was McGeorge Bundy descended from?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What kind of reports does Halberstam say the U.S. got from Vietnam?

3. Describe the confrontation in Laos.

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

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

6. Why did Diem and the U.S. end up working together?

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

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

9. How did the fall of China and the Cold War affect the Kennedy administration?

10. How did the White House eventually try to limit the military?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Using the hindsight gained by "The Best and the Brightest", would you say that the war in Vietnam was a local conflict that could have been left to resolve itself, or would you say that if left unaddressed, Vietnam would have been one of the dominoes in a string of nations the Communists took over? Put another way: would the internal tensions in Vietnam have dogged the Communists just as badly as they dogged the Americans and the American-backed South Vietnamese government, if the Vietcong had ever acquired power there?

Essay Topic 2

What kind of administrative or bureaucratic changes could have helped the war effort in Vietnam? Specifically, how could U.S. commanders have ensured that accurate information flowed unimpeded from troops and analysts in Vietnam to military planners in the U.S.? What factors in the military or political establishment created this problem?

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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