David Halberstam

Any serious reader of nonfiction must be saddened by the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam. I’ve read only a handful of his nearly two dozen books. Those I read, though, left no doubt about his talents.

The Best and the Brightest is certainly among the greatest, if not the greatest, one volume work on U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The Fifties is a highly readable account of a decade that was a more significant turning point in American history than many seem to realize. The Powers That Be is an incomparable look at the growth of traditional mainstream media, rendered somewhat dated now because of the advent of the 24 hour news networks and the Internet. And demonstrating his range, October 1964 will leave most American males my age captivated by names such as Mantle, Maris, Gibson and Brock battling in the World Series while at the same time examining the societal changes underway in America.

Halberstam not only has a new book coming out this fall, he reportedly was working on yet another at the time of his death. At the time of this post, at least two of his books, including The Best and the Brightest, showed dramatically increased sales (thousands of percent) at Amazon. I, too, will likely seek out Halberstam books I have not read. It’s sad, though, that it takes a death to move such an excellent author to the forefront of reading lists.

These days there’s all too much coverage of pesudo-events about extraordinarily inauthentic people doing inauthentic things.

David Halberstam, Vanity Fair, March 1998

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