David Halberstam, R.I.P.

I was guzzling coffee this morning at our friend’s house in Sarasota after experiencing a tough Yankee’s loss last night to the lowly Devil Rays.  I was wishing I was less than a complete idiot regarding sunscreen and the amount of time I spent on the beach yesterday and I was thinking how much fun twittering is when you are on vacation – kinda keeps you in touch (if you wanna stay in touch!) and then I dropped my coffee cup…I read the news.

One of the best journalists that ever graced the pages of the Tennessean (many years ago) and one of the best writers of my generation was killed in a car wreck last night.   David Halberstam was one of those so-called ‘new journalists’ who could make non-fiction read like the best fictional prose you ever read.    He wrote about baseball, basketball, Peace Corps, civil rights and war.  He was one of the first major journalists to write the truth about Viet Nam.  

Read ‘The Breaks of the Game’ about his year with the Portland Trailblazer basketball team.  You don’t even have to like sports to appreciate how he got inside the head and heart of those players.   Read ‘The Children’, largely about the civil rights movement in Nashville.   Halberstam’s passions were on his sleeve and in his pen.

Halberstam saw through the smoke screens.  Last year in a speech in our state he was talking about how journalists telling the truth about Iraq were being shouted down just like the ones who spoke the truth about Viet Nam.

“The crueler the war gets, the crueler the attacks get on anybody who doesn’t salute or play the game,” he said. “And then one day, the people who are doing the attacking look around and they’ve used up their credibility.”

Halbertam NEVER lost his credibility.



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6 responses to “David Halberstam, R.I.P.

  1. I was’t familiar with him, but it sounds like we lost a great journalist. I’m sorry to hear it. We need more like that.


    On a less serious and respectful note, ‘Go Devil Rays!’ 😉

  2. Dear Emily – bite me!

  3. you gotta know I had to say it….I’m from TAMPA!

  4. bridgett

    What a cruel loss in a month of cruel losses. Halberstam was a terrific writer and has influenced me deeply in how I think about what I do professionally. I read his writing on Vietnam when I was in college and I remember thinking that one had to write well enough so that people would pay attention, especially if one planned to relate some painful truth. I know he was a journalist, but I always claim him as a historian because he did what historians should be in the business of doing — he told a factual story about the past in such a way as to get to the human heart that connects us all.

  5. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » Thoughts on the Death of David Halberstam: A Round-Up

  6. Hi. Some of us bloggers are thinking of doing a blog book club for the summertime and using Halberstam’s The Children. We’d get together in a chat room (probably Skype since that’s free and doesn’t require special equipment) and talk about the book somehow, sometime in August. Would you be interested in participating as one of the “sponsors,” so to speak? Just to post on your blog so your readers could participate. I and one other blogger are all lined up, but I’d like to have at least four, maybe as many as six. Let me know by email. Thanks.

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