The Best and the Brightest

  • by David Halberstam
  • Narrated by Mark Bramhall
  • 37 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

David Halberstam's masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy, with a new foreword by Senator John McCain.
Using portraits of America's flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country's recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam, and why did we lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It is an American classic.

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What the Critics Say

"The most comprehensive saga of how America became involved in Vietnam.... [I]t is also The Iliad of the American empire and The Odyssey of this nation's search for its idealistic soul." (The Boston Globe)
"Seductively readable.... [I]t is a staggeringly ambitious undertaking that is fully matched by Halberstam's performance." (Newsweek)
"A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience." (The New York Times )

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Preparation for Ken Burns

I first read this book some 45 years ago and decided that it was time for a refresher with Ken Burns' series on Vietnam coming up on PBS. Scary part was how much I'd forgotten about the LBJ period of self delusion. The historical background from WWII up the JFK period, (missed opportunities), is absolutely fascinating. FDR had no intention of allowing the French to regain possession of Indochina post-war. Sadly all his plans died with him. Even then, the US was against French reoccupation but the British were kind enough to rearm the interned French forces prior to leaving for Burma and Malaya. Instant civil war with the Viet Minh who had been fighting the Japanese. Unfortunately this war coincided with Korea and de Gaulle convinced the US that Indochina was an extension of Korea. American assistance followed.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the historical dichotomy that trapped JFK to even pay attention to Vietnam. The convergence of domestic political history and the historical geopolitical circumstances placed JFK in a no-win situation that he was barely juggling when he was assassinated. He was poorly served by his advisors, including RFK as the deaths of Diệm and his brother amply demonstrated. You need to listen to this tome, (and at 37 hrs., it IS a tome), but Mark Bramhall's voice makes it enjoyable, without detracting from the verbiage. Five Stars across the board!!
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- Chiefkent

Before there was "groupthink"

Anyone with interest in what is happening *now* would do VERY well to pick up this $56+ masterwork for a credit or free trial w Audible. The book is 37 hours long, never boring. The facts contained here are jaw dropping, literally. Halbertam's body of work is generally amazing. This book is that book where I must use the M word: MASTERWORK. The delivery is duly dry and inspired: reader lets the facts do the work. Probably the best value four a credit I've used in 14 years w Audible.
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- Kilian Schneider

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio