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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,526 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Halberstam Narrator: David Clennon Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9780739358559
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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 As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded.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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • For anyone who aspires to a position of national leadership, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, this book should be mandatory reading. And anyone who feels a need, as a confused former prisoner of war once felt the need, for insights into how a great and good nation can lose a war and see its worthy purposes and principles destroyed by self-delusion can do no better than to read and reread David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest. from the Foreword by Senator John McCain
  • 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 perfor-mance. Newsweek
  • A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience. The New York Times
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 1972 Cornelius Ryan Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 2/8/2014

    " painfully slow, but I finished. I was never excited to read this book, something just wasn't that good about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Big_al | 1/26/2014

    " Too bad our current administration didn't properly learn the lessons from this war, it might have helped not mess up another country. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erik Graff | 1/19/2014

    " This is David Halberstam's most famous and important book, but not his best insofar as his writing style improved with time. It is an attempt to understand the bad decision making which led to the defeat of the USA in Southeast Asia, focusing on our invasion of Vietnam. The question is narrowly pointed, moral dimensions barely mentioned, but clearly of ongoing relevance since the lessons he adduces have still not taken effective hold. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha Johnson | 1/19/2014

    " WHen I read this book, I learned a huge amount about how individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, can play into a larger system of dysfunction. It's a great portrayal of that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam | 1/11/2014

    " Good, interesting look at American history and the JFK era and the administrations around that time. I'm not a big history buff, so if I found it good enough to finish, then it has some redeeming qualities. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Bales | 1/6/2014

    " Greatest book ever written about the reasons why we were in Vietnam, but a guy who was in-country when it all began. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy | 1/1/2014

    " Clear prose combined with Halberstam's insight and compelling story telling. If you want to know how and why the Vietnam debacle came to be, this book is excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave Moyer | 12/25/2013

    " Phenomenal telling of the inner workings of the administration responsible for our deepening involvement in Vietnam. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shawna Faith | 12/6/2013

    " essential, to learn and really understand our government and its ways of working. a tough book to get through for me. it really confirmed my belief that we still live in an extremely patriarchal society. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert Morrow | 12/1/2013

    " I usually like Halberstam, but I thought he was a bit too snitty in this book about the geniuses who got us into various messes like Vietnam. His book on the Korean War was more compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wes Owens | 11/20/2013

    " Kind of slow in some parts and there are a ton of figures and a ton of titles to remember (was Rusk Secretary of State or of Defense, j/k), but that's to be expected from a non-fiction account of any white house staff. Really informative overall. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel Bakken | 11/19/2013

    " Masterful character study of Kennedy's Best and Brightest intellectual cabinet members who led us into Vietnam and refused to admit its failure until it was too late. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nick Black | 5/9/2013

    " I can't remember a single word from this book, but it was pretty funny when ZB demanded I get a mattress because she was tired of "waking up on the floor with only this dirty sheet and Tom Brokaw books to comfort me". That's how I roll, babe! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Puneet | 4/6/2013

    " A narrative quagmire, not helped by the 'dog-chasing-its-own-tail' character introductions. Still, provides key insights into how the cream of our political leadership and talent can go awry, no matter how much hope is involved. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg Miller | 3/29/2013

    " One of the top 10 books you must read to understand the American experience in Vietnam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brendan | 1/26/2013

    " Best portrait of the highly-regarded but limited men who ran the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and how they led us into the catastrophe that was the Vietnam War. I recommend it to everybody "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Barth | 8/2/2012

    " Like I need to add anything to this acclaimed work..amazing history and profiles and painfully relevant. Hubris, Pre-Iraq. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean O'Hare | 1/27/2012

    " OK, I've had this one going for a while. It's definitely good - he won the pulitzer for this book - but it's long and the print is really small. I may never finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric (Ric) Gesell | 10/27/2011

    " Want to know just what happened and how/why. Read this book and get an insiders look into D.C. politics and all the players involved in the Vietnam war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 7/7/2011

    " Big narrative and big characters. Halberstam's macho/epic style can hurt him, but this book - about the stupid ways people can get thier country into war - is still relevant today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark Fallon | 6/16/2011

    " Explains the political mistakes that led to the Vietnam war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marianne | 6/1/2011

    " Ok, I finally got around to read this history of how we got into the Vietnam quagmire (I know that I am many wars behind, alas). The good news is that this book has not aged and remains as interesting, vibrant and to the point as ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 4/20/2011

    " Too much detail. I suppose if I grew up in this era I would find all the characters more interesting. I enjoyed it, but did a fair amount of skimming. It is amusing to read about how frightened our leaders were of a communist takeover. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scot | 2/17/2011

    " Worth remembering what happened especially these days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nelly | 2/16/2011

    " The other face of Vietnam. How wars are created by the best and the brightest and how power and sucess occurs in USA. A real and excellent portrait of an era of American history which repeats itself. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert | 1/30/2011

    " I usually like Halberstam, but I thought he was a bit too snitty in this book about the geniuses who got us into various messes like Vietnam. His book on the Korean War was more compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 1/28/2011

    " Densely detailed journalist history of how the US got involved in the tar baby of Vietnam, how it affected the Kennedy administration, and how it helped destroy Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and lead to the worst inflation since the Civil War.
    Recommended.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/15/2011

    " One of the best books ever written on Kennedy & Johnson years of the Vietman War. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Johnbh46 | 11/26/2010

    " one of best books written about the lead up and execution of the Viet Nam war "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Geno | 5/13/2010

    " Closer to 4 than 3 the definitive Vietnam story "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric (Ric) | 5/11/2010

    " Want to know just what happened and how/why. Read this book and get an insiders look into D.C. politics and all the players involved in the Vietnam war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 5/5/2010

    " A great insight into the causes and thinking by Kennedy officials leading the US into Vietnam. "

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About the Author
Author David Halberstam

David Halberstam graduated from Harvard, where he had served as managing editor of the daily Harvard Crimson. It was 1955, a year after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools. Halberstam went south and began his career as the one reporter on the West Point, Mississippi, Daily Times Leader. He was fired after ten months there and went to work for the Nashville Tennessean. When the sit-ins broke out in Nashville in February 1960, he was assigned to the story as principal reporter. He joined the New York Times later that year, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his early reports from Vietnam. He has received every other major journalistic award, and is a member of the Society of American Historians.