• U.S.

Books: Some of the book’s prime targets comment:

1 minute read

THE four men above bear the brunt of David Halberstam’s criticism. Two of them, Robert McNamara, who left the Defense Department in 1968 to become president of the World Bank, and ex-Presidential Adviser McGeorge Bundy, president of the Ford Foundation, refused to comment on the book. Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, now professor of international law at the University of Georgia, had not read the book but told TIME: “I suspect Halberstam’s biggest problem was that we didn’t base our policy on his reporting from Viet Nam. This amateur psychiatry, talking about things like machismo—if that’s what he does—is nonsense.” Walt Rostow, former Kennedy and Johnson aide and now a professor of history at the University of Texas, has an article in the December Esquire replying to an excerpt from The Best and the Brightest. “From 1961 to 1968,” he writes, “I believed the war could only be materially shortened by putting substantial U.S. forces on the ground.” But he denies Halberstam’s charge that he ever said the war would end in six months.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com