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The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms

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"Grey is the color of truth." So observed Mac Bundy in defending America's intervention in Vietnam. Kai Bird brilliantly captures this ambiguity in his revelatory look at Bundy and his brother William, two of the most influential policymakers of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It is a portrait of fiercely patriotic, brilliant and brazenly self-confident men who d "Grey is the color of truth." So observed Mac Bundy in defending America's intervention in Vietnam. Kai Bird brilliantly captures this ambiguity in his revelatory look at Bundy and his brother William, two of the most influential policymakers of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It is a portrait of fiercely patriotic, brilliant and brazenly self-confident men who directed a steady escalation of a war they did not believe could be won. Bird draws on seven years of research, nearly one hundred interviews, and scores of still-classified top secret documents in a masterful reevaluation of America's actions throughout the Cold War and Vietnam.


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"Grey is the color of truth." So observed Mac Bundy in defending America's intervention in Vietnam. Kai Bird brilliantly captures this ambiguity in his revelatory look at Bundy and his brother William, two of the most influential policymakers of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It is a portrait of fiercely patriotic, brilliant and brazenly self-confident men who d "Grey is the color of truth." So observed Mac Bundy in defending America's intervention in Vietnam. Kai Bird brilliantly captures this ambiguity in his revelatory look at Bundy and his brother William, two of the most influential policymakers of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. It is a portrait of fiercely patriotic, brilliant and brazenly self-confident men who directed a steady escalation of a war they did not believe could be won. Bird draws on seven years of research, nearly one hundred interviews, and scores of still-classified top secret documents in a masterful reevaluation of America's actions throughout the Cold War and Vietnam.

30 review for The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    RE-READ Without hesitation I've put this book on my short list of recommendations for anyone who wants to learn more about the Vietnam War. Not at the top simply because it assumes some prior knowledge about many of the players involved and the historical events described and it deals with other times and topicsd, but it should be included, (I think), with books by Halberstam, Sheehan, etc. Why? The Bundy brothers were at the center of most if not all the policy and military decisions concerning RE-READ Without hesitation I've put this book on my short list of recommendations for anyone who wants to learn more about the Vietnam War. Not at the top simply because it assumes some prior knowledge about many of the players involved and the historical events described and it deals with other times and topicsd, but it should be included, (I think), with books by Halberstam, Sheehan, etc. Why? The Bundy brothers were at the center of most if not all the policy and military decisions concerning Vietnam made during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations - McGeorge as Special Assistant to the President on National Security Affairs to both JFK and LBJ - William working under McNamara, (Defense) and then Dean Rusk, (State). This book/author does an excellent job of putting these decisions in the context of the Bundy brothers' background, upbringing, education, intellect, loyalty and sense of duty, i.e. all the things a biography should do. Will the reader agree with all the decisions the Bundys made? ...Of course not. In fact one may disagree with every decision each or both of them did make but this book gives the reader an appreciation or at least an understanding as to how and why they came about. (As an aside, most of the questions/doubts concerning Vietnam policy made in hindsight, were raised contemporaneously by one or both of the Bundys - just another piece to this enigmatic puzzle.) Regarding the book's perspective/objectivity, I have no complaints and found the author admirably evenhanded - Although there are some anecdotes concerning peripheral individuals, (i.e. Henry Kissinger), which do not show them in the most positive light and may even raise a smirk from the reader. Finally although this review has centered on the Bundys and Vietnam this book chronicles much more, both before and after the Vietnam War - Henry Stimson, military service, the CIA, McCarthyism and the Cold War, Harvard and Yale, Cuba, the Ford Foundation - but in the interest of brevity I hope I've made my point.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    This was an amazing book that really hooked me into what was going on during the '50s-60s. McGeorge and William Bundy had the family access and the smarts to go far in the world. Both served admiarably during WWII, and with government thereafter. Both were extremly erudite and desired for their abilities. McGeorge was National Security Advisor for President Kennedy. He did a satisfactory job, but from Bird's work it appears that he wasn't always showing his cards. William, his older brother, was This was an amazing book that really hooked me into what was going on during the '50s-60s. McGeorge and William Bundy had the family access and the smarts to go far in the world. Both served admiarably during WWII, and with government thereafter. Both were extremly erudite and desired for their abilities. McGeorge was National Security Advisor for President Kennedy. He did a satisfactory job, but from Bird's work it appears that he wasn't always showing his cards. William, his older brother, was a deputy to Kennedy, and then an Assistant Secretary of State for Kennedy, again, like McGeorge, not always forthright about his views. To sum it all up, these two were able to make some great change in America on small things, but if they had been able to finesse the Vietnam war we might regard them as truly the best and brightest.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jemera Rone

    What a fabulous biography! The brothers' elite education and Brahmin origins only supplemented their high IQs. Thus the term, " the best and the brightest." I well remembered Mac George's role in the Vietnam war, but I had forgotten about his shake-up of NYC politics when, after reading Gunnar Myrdal, he threw the Ford Foundation's considerable resources into trying to enccourage black activism. This earned him the animus of the NYC teachers' union and undoubtedly contributed to the creation of What a fabulous biography! The brothers' elite education and Brahmin origins only supplemented their high IQs. Thus the term, " the best and the brightest." I well remembered Mac George's role in the Vietnam war, but I had forgotten about his shake-up of NYC politics when, after reading Gunnar Myrdal, he threw the Ford Foundation's considerable resources into trying to enccourage black activism. This earned him the animus of the NYC teachers' union and undoubtedly contributed to the creation of the term "limousine liberal." He has been redeemed somewhat from the cloud under which he has so long labored.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Timothy McCluskey

    This is an excellent book for many reasons least of which it is well written. The Bundy Brothers were brilliant and exceptionally well educated but for all their knowledge and training they were absolutely tone deaf to any culture other than that of New England and by extension America. As a result they were totally unable to understand the interests of Southeast Asians. All of which lead to the debacle of Viet Nam.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Thorough and excellent. Won't be surpassed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Bower

    Very well written. Great look at the Bundy brothers "behind-the-scenes" influences on foreign affairs in JFK and LBJ's administration. I believe it shines much light on the height of the cold war.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steven Maloney

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter Bundy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul Boyd

  11. 5 out of 5

    Harry Rothmann

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fariz Rzayev

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Moore

  14. 4 out of 5

    Doug Black

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alhaslam

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tony Ruble

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Bird

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pierce Blue

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shagufa Mafat

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Williams

  24. 4 out of 5

    Donald

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tobin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tomihawk

  28. 5 out of 5

    Greg Walklin

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Bennatan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

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