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The Color of Truth

McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms

About The Book

*From the Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of American Prometheus—the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film Oppenheimer*

"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.

About The Author

Kai Bird is the coauthor with Martin J. Sherwin of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which was the inspiration for the film Oppenheimer, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture. His other books include The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment, The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy & William Bundy, Brothers in Arms, and The Outlier. Bird is the winner of the 2024 BIO Award for his contributions to the art and craft of biography. His many other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation. A contributing editor of The Nation, he lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, with his wife and son.

Product Details

Raves and Reviews

Charles Maechling, Jr. The Boston Globe A fascinating account of how...two archetypes of "the best and the brightest" helped to shape the policies that led to the debacle of Vietnam.

Bruce Nussbaum Business Week Compelling....Along with Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest and The Wise Men by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, Kai Bird's The Color of Truth forms a trilogy that shows that America, in times of difficulty, finds "wise" men to lead it. But they often lack the courage of their convictions to do so properly.

Ronald Steel The Washington Post A darkly dramatic story, told with sensitivity and political passion, of pride, power, privilege, hubris and idealism -- not only of the Bundys but of the nation they served.

Townsend Hoopes Los Angeles Times Keenly perceptive, thoroughly researched, fair and balanced...Bird's detailed account of [the Bundys'] major roles in the Vietnam imbroglio adds significantly to the historical record.

James G. Blight The Washington Post Balanced, highly original....Bird depicts [the Bundy brothers] with nuance and sympathy.

Foreign Affairs The [Vietnam) chapters are first-rate....Bird powerfully shows how the brothers struggled to craft a "vital center" but built one that could not hold.

Mark Danner The New York Times Book Review Bird's sources are well marshaled, and they make for good, sometimes fascinating reading.

Jeff Jones Boston Review Weaving a rich history of government documents-some recently declassified, some still classified -- with interviews and a fresh look at available sources, Bird delivers the definitive assessment of two Cold Warriors.

Charles Wright Biography Magazine Bird's dual biography offers a vivid, dramatic chronicle Of the genesis, the conduct, and the aftermath of the long, undeclared war in Southeast Asia.

Richard Poster Milwaukee Journal Sentinel An exhaustively researched, elegantly written, scrupulously fair-minded and intellectually tough-minded biography...A masterful achievement.

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