THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST: MCGEORGE BUNDY, 1919-1996

MCGEORGE BUNDY, 1919-1996

His laserlike intellect radiated from behind his clear-rimmed glasses with an intensity as hot as his smile was cold. Had he been half as smart, he might have been a great man. Instead, McGeorge Bundy, who died last week in Boston of a heart attack at 77, came to personify the hubris of an intellectual elite that marched America with a cool and confident brilliance into the quagmire of Vietnam.

The early '60s will be remembered as a moment when meritocracy and patrician elitism enjoyed a celebrated cohabitation, the rise and then fall of which Bundy came to symbolize. The scion...

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