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David Halberstam

David Halberstam, 1934-2007

"If you get information that is going to jar the Government of the United States and jar the people of the United States, that's what you get paid for. Don't expect to be popular. The better you do the job, the more likely you are to go against conventional wisdom, and people don't like to hear bad news. So you are not going to be popular."


Experienced, eloquent, and observant (his dim view of Patrick Ewing being a notable exception), David Halberstam was a journalistic jack-of-all-trades who is best remembered for his stinging indictment of Vietnam warrior Robert McNamara, JFK and LBJ's secretary of defense, in the classic The Best and the Brightest. A superior war correspondent before the era of CNN-televised revolutions , Halberstam was also an excellent historian and superb sports writer. Halberstam's dense but illuminating The Fifties is an informative and tightly written study on the Eisenhower era. And The Children offers a compelling look at eight young leaders of the Civil Rights Revolution. Moreover, Halberstam's many writings on basketball (The Breaks of the Game, Playing for Keeps) and baseball (Summer of '49, October 1964) rank among the upper echelon of sports books.

I am personally partial to The Amateurs, Halberstam's short book on the underappreciated sport of rowing. Halberstam follows a handful of scullers, each practicing hours on end with no financial backing and little moral support, in their quest to make the 1984 Olympic squad. I have found no other book that comes as close to capturing the nuances of this very peculiar sport.

Halberstam's most recent political work, 2001's War in a Time of Peace, examined American foreign policy in the decade since the Cold War thawed.

An interview with David Halberstam.

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