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April 10: David Halberstam

April 9, 2016

halberstam184-fixPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and popular historian David Halberstam was born in New York on this date in 1934. After graduating from Harvard, where he was managing editor of the Crimson, he began his reporting career in the South, at the Daily Times Leader, the smallest daily newspaper in Mississippi, and at The Tennessean in Nashville, where he wrote about the dawning civil rights movement. He went to Vietnam in 1962 and soon was covering the war for the New York Times; Halberstam witnessed the self-immolation of Buddhist monks and reported on the repression of Buddhist temples by the South Vietnamese government. He received his Pulitzer in 1964, and returned to the U.S. to report on the civil rights movement for the Times. His best-known books included The Best and the Brightest (1972), about American hubris and the Vietnam War; The Fifties (1993); War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals (2001); and numerous books about sports. Halberstam died in a car crash in 2007, shortly after his 73rd birthday.

“One reason that Americans as a people became nostalgic about the ’50s more than twenty-five years later was not so much that life was better in the ’50s (though in some ways it was), but because at the time it had been portrayed so idyllically on television.” —David Halberstam