David Halberstam’s useful working premise

Scott has written two good posts about the late David Halberstam. Let me add that I enjoyed Halberstam’s books about sports, especially his under-appreciated NBA basketball book, The Breaks of the Game. His book about the 1950s also contained plenty of insights.
I would have to re-read Halberstam’s breakthrough book, The Best and the Brightest, before offering an assessment. It’s been at least 30 years since I read that work. However, I do recall that Halberstam made an earnest and probably good faith effort to figure out why our “best and brightest” policymakers messed up so badly (as Halberstam viewed it) in Vietnam. Halberstam did not commit the modern fallacy of concluding that the authors of policies with which one vehemently disagrees are stupid or evil or both. As his title indicates, in the case of Vietnam he worked from the contrary premise.
Of course, the subjects of Halberstam’s scrutiny were liberal Democrats.


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