Tuesday, April 24, 2007

David Halberstam, R.I.P.

David Halberstam, a guy who knew what it meant to be a journalist, died yesterday from injuries sustained in a car accident south of San Francisco. He was 73.

He made his reputation reporting from Vietnam in the early 60s. His reporting there won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1964.

Sez the Times: "His reporting, along with that of several colleagues, left little doubt that a corrupt South Vietnamese government supported by the United States was no match for Communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies. His dispatches infuriated American military commanders and policy makers in Washington, but they accurately reflected the realities on the ground."

If you could find a point where scotch-drinking, red-meat eating, SUV driving Republicans really started hating the so-called Mainstream Media, this was it.

But for Halberstam, this was just the beginning of a brilliant career. His book on the 1949 pennant race is maybe the best book on baseball I've ever read. “The Fifties” is another one of my favorites, a look at a decade that he argued was more monumental than many believed.

“A writer should be like a playwright — putting people on stage, putting ideas on stage, making the reader become the audience,” he recently told an interviewer for NY1 News.

In the end, he was still reporting. When he was killed yesterday, he was on his way to an interview with Y. A. Tittle, the former New York Giants quarterback, for a book about the 1958 championship game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts, considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played.

Godspeed, David. You will be missed.

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