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

2. When Kennedy did not authorize more troops, what does Halberstam say he told the Pentagon?

3. What had Robert Lovett been before entering government?

4. How did McNamara achieve his goals while he was at Ford?

5. What events does Halberstam say affected American perceptions of its global priorities?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. Who was Frederick Nolting, and what was his role in Vietnam?

6. Describe the confrontation in Laos.

7. What did Kennedy's representatives report back after their 1961 fact-finding mission?

8. Whom did Kennedy consider for the position of Secretary of State?

9. What three plans does Halberstam say the U.S. was considering in Vietnam in 1961?

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

Was it necessary for opponents of the war to be marginalized within the American government? Describe the organizational and bureaucratic rules and pressures that were used to effectively silence or transfer officials who spoke out against the war. Was this required, for efficient planning, or did the transfers constitute repression?

Essay Topic 2

How did American support influence Diem and Khanh? Did it make them more or less legitimate in the eyes of the Vietnamese? If there were problems caused by overt American support, say also what roles were played by Vietnamese society and by the personalities of Diem and Khanh.

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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