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 does Halberstam say Dean Rusk felt about his interview with Kennedy for the Secretary of State job?

2. What does Halberstam say Americans were disunited about in the early 1960s?

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

4. Where was the war going badly, at the time when the White House was losing faith in Diem?

5. What did Kennedy represent to Eleanor Roosevelt's followers?

Short Essay Questions

1. Who was McGeorge Bundy, and what was his role in the Kennedy administration?

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

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

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

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

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

7. What crises confronted the Kennedy administration in 1961?

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

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

10. Describe Vietnam's problems with the Buddhist monks.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

Judging by what you know of contemporary culture, what lessons has America learned about domestic policies and politics after the Vietnam era? What has changed in how the government works, in how it funds wars, and in how it relates to internal opposition?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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