"It is not a particularly happy chapter I in his life; he did not serve himself or the country well; he was. there is no kinder or gentler word for it. a fool."
That sentence, devastating in its understatement, is from David Halberstam's 1972 Vietnam War masterpiece. The Best and the Brightest. In this instance, Robert McNamara was the target of Halberstam's unforgiving prose. Other officials would be similarly outed in the course of revealing the machinations and misjudgments that characterized a war that haunts us still.
I read the book shortly after it came out. As both a fledgling reporter and a Marine who had served in Vietnam. I found it riveting. And I was never quite the same again.
By then, I was out of the Marine Corps. Journalism was my new career and The Best and the Brightest showed me just how important it could be when practiced with passion, persistence, and a willingness to speak truth to power. David became the journalist I most admired and hoped to emulate.