Tuesday, April 24, 2007
In memoriam: David Halberstam
I feel like I've been kicked in the chest.

Yesterday David Halberstam died in a car crash. He was 73.

David Halberstam was a favorite of mine. Even when I disagreed with what I was reading -- and I'm sure he would have welcomed the skepticism -- he was so damned engaging I couldn't help but enjoy myself.

When he was on -- as in "The Best and the Brightest," "The Powers That Be," "The Reckoning" and "The Fifties" -- I looked forward to getting back to his books with a giddiness that was often completely out of sync with the material at hand.

He was a thoughtful commentator and a gracious interview.

An auto accident is a brutal and unfair way to die, but for it to happen to Halberstam -- a man who chronicled (and became enmeshed in) the two primary crucibles of the '60s, the civil rights movement and Vietnam -- it is a cruel end indeed. He should have passed in peace. He should have passed after watching a ballgame from the bleachers, with conversation happily exhausted and the everlasting promise of a long season spread out in all directions.

I will miss him terribly.
There are few writers in the past 50 years who you know were writing from the heart, with honesty and integrity. David was one of those. His work was exemplary and always a refreshing read, no matter if I agreed with him or not. You did yourself proud, David.
I had the good fortune to cross paths with David Halberstam at Kramer's Bookstore in Washington, DC some 6 or 7 years ago. We were both trolling the bookshelves. Although I immediately knew who he was, I was surprised to observe that nobody else appeared to recognize this legendary writer with few peers. I grabbed a copy of "The Best and the Brightest" and asked Mr. Halberstam for his autograph. I was struck by how physically imposing he was, at the time a man in his mid-60s. He was a formidable man in more ways than one. The only other autograph I have is one from from Joe DiMaggio.
I first read David Halberstam with "The Best and the Brightest", and followed his writings through both serious and light subject matter. At either end of the spectrum, he never failed to bring up issues that forced the reader to examine their own feelings on race, conflict, and society in general. We will miss him deeply.
This Country has lost a National Asset.
He came here to Bloomington, Indiana, last month -- brought in by the School of Journalism at IU. He came over to have lunch with newsroom employees from the Indiana Daily Student and The Herald-Times, where I work, as well as giving a public talk and having lunch with the local press club. In each encounter, he was gracious, funny and insightful. Although he said many things that I will remember, my favorite was when he summed up, during the lunch with newsroom folks, how much fun it had been in his life to GET PAID FOR FINDING STUFF OUT!

He was a voice of sanity and reason and humor and I am so sorry that he is gone
This is really sad news. I heard about this yesterday and it really got to me. I've loved Halberstam's books. I have to admit I got into him first because of his book "Playing for Keeps" on Michael Jordan's last season with the Chicago Bulls, but it was such an incredible read I bought most of Halberstam's other books.
He was a voice of reason and clarity, and will be sorely missed.
I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Halberstam while he was researching his book on the '50s. He was a brilliant and gracious individual, and very appreciative of the help that my research department provided. After he finished his research with us, he sent me a dozen yellow roses as a "thank you". I was amazed and touched that this legendary journalist and writer would acknowledge a researcher/librarian in that way, especially as I felt that I had not done anything extraordinary in helping him.

I send my condolences to his family and friends. He was a true gentleman and scholar.
The ability to bring scholarly history to casual readers in an entertaining manner is a rare talent indeed. David Halberstam stood as perhaps the greatest modern-day example of this, and I know I certainly will miss his presence on the literary scene. We should all be so fortunate, however, to have so fitting a memorial as Mr. Halberstam's body of work will certainly be for him.
I went to bed last night having just started "The Best and the Brightest" stopping at page 44. This morning I awoke to learn of Mr. Halberstam's tragic passing. I was in disbelief. Our country has lost a great man.

Tonight with a heavy heart I will continue to read his work.
"The Powers That Be" remains one of the best books ever written about journalism and the pressures faced both internally and externally.

Halberstam's reporting from Vietnam may have built his reputation, but his body of work --from serious issues to the sports world -- is staggering.

A tragic loss.
David Halberstam's untimely death is a blow to all who cherished his books on both sports and politics.

Perhpas the most moving book I ever read was his "The Children" a fantastic review of the Civil Rights movement. The writing is extraordinary, much like Halberstam's writing in The Fifties. The book demonstrates how children can change the world and reminds us of all the good that was done in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. It is a must read for anybody who wants to understand the timeline from Nashville to Selma and the role played by Dr. King and a cast of thousands.

We can only hope that somebody will come along and carry the mantle.
"The Children," (1998) by David Halberstam, is in my mind one of his finest nonfiction texts about the US Civil Rights Movement's Soulforcees.

They were the high school and college people of color who braved lunch counters where they were cursed and spit upon; jail after jail after jail for taking part in nonviolent direct actions; bombs in Birmingham, ALA.; fire hoses that burned off the hair on their heads; K-9 killer dogs whose bites were meant just for them.

Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Dr. Rodney Powell, former DC Mayor Marion Barry, Congress Rep. John Lewis, Diane Nash, Gloria Johnson and so many more courageous younger people followed Rev. Dr. Lawson's training's in nonviolence, until one day, Lawson was recruited by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. These were "The Children," David Halberstam immortalized.

Yes. This 783 page historical text of US supremacism and heroism is what stands out in my mind as the very mark on this world left by David Halberstam. I refuse to miss him because I will keep on reading him!
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Halberstam at Yale University about three years ago. He spoke about the war in Iraq and compared it to Vietnam. I was immediately impressed with his knowledge and gumption, definitely an honor listening to him. He will greatly be missed.
Perhaps Mr. Halberstam's passing will bring about some needed national focus on the subject of History repeating itself (Vietnam-Iraq: is our foreign policy 'healthy'?).

His life's work is a national treasure of enlightenment, let's put it to work to do some good. No time like the present ...
I think my comment drifted into cyberspace. This one will be shorter.
Of course David Halberstam died in the company of a student. As an undergraduate at a small Lutheran college in 1970-something, I had the honor and privilege of being Mr. Halberstam's campus host. I have never felt so listened to, so taken seriously, so ... honored. His gentle but rigorous attention and intense intellect left an indelible impression. My student-heart goes out to that student, who must be devastated. My spouse-heart goes out to his wife, Jean. My citizen-heart grieves for the lost of a fellow American. With a capital A.
When learning of David Halberstam's death and the references to "Best and Brightest" I asked my wife to purchase a copy. I the looked at the the reviews at Barnes and Noble. This caused me to ask my brother-in-law who served 2 tours in VIETNAM as a Marine Pilot and father of an adopted Viatnamese daughter who came from Sister Angela's orphanage. Sister Angela had escaped North Vietnam persecution and set up her Orphanage in South Vietnam. When I questioned my brother-in-law about David Halberstam via email I reveived this reply.
"Halberstam was a talented and initially pro ally in Vietnam. It didn't take him long to revert to his eastern liberal background, and by the time the Viet War was in full swing, he was one of the cut and run crowd. What a waste of a good mind."
I will get the book and see if he has anything to say about traitor John Kerry and Hanoi Jane Fonda.
Wonder what Sister Angela would have to say about my niece and whatever happened to her Orphanage.
I am not in favor of the cut and run strategy being promoted by the liberals in Iraq.
I would be interested in seeing his notes on the 1958 New york Giants.
I'm sorry I did not see this blog until now - several days after the dealth of David Halberstam.

I had the opportunity to meet him briefly a couple of years ago when he spoke at a local library "Writers Forum" in Newport Beach, CA. I had just bought War in a Time of Peace and they said he would autograph it afterwards.

I ended up sitting at the same table with him and we chatted a bit about his speech and the War in Irag (in his words "we are poking a hornet's nest)He autographed my book and we remarked that we both had the same birth date: April 10.
It was a very odd feeling to see his picture in the paper the morning his death was announced - there was an almost personal connection - I felt like I "knew" him even though our meeting was so brief. It's an awful way for anyone to die and he will be missed. Thank heavens he was here long enough to leave us with some powerful and lasting words and images. J. Grant, Irvine, CA
I met him once briefly when I was working at a bookstore in Hartsfield (now Hartsfield-Jackson) Airport in Atlanta. He came in to browse and I asked him if he was David Halberstam.

Some accounts have told about his ego, but he was genuinely nice and was pleased that I had recognized him.

Given the shaky credbility of the Fourth Estate these days, I'm thankful for his contributions to investigative journalism and non-fiction writing.

Godspeed, David.

J. Greg
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