I heard with great sadness that David Halberstam was killed yesterday in a car accident. A lot of today's eulogies talk about the fact that Halberstam was a great journalist who knew that his job was to get the story, regardless if it ruffled the feathers of those in power. That mindset is in sharp contrast with today's journalists who seem to think that maintaining their insider contacts is what their job is all about. For decent write ups on David Halberstam click here or here or here.
I want to give a shout out to three Halberstam books that I thought were fascinating. Even thought I've probably read a good 1/2 dozen of his books, these really stood out.
The Best and Brightest. Halberstam's greatest book. The story of how the Kennedy Administration got us into the Vietnam war. It's a fascinating read on how this country's smartest men -- literally bred and educated to govern -- stumbled into Vietnam and couldn't get out. For some reason I don't think there will be a book called The Best and Brightest II about the Bush Administration and their debacle in Iraq.
The Powers That Be. A book about how the NY TImes, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post became the preeminent newspapers during the 20th Century. I think this book was written in the early 1980's so it would have been interesting to see Halberstam's take on today's newspaper business.
Summer of 1949. Yankees and Joe Dimaggio. Red Sox and Ted Williams. Both teams fight it out all season long for the American League Pennant. Also this was the year the Brooklyn Dodgers finally made it to the World Series. Fascinating book, you can literally smell the sweat coming of those old wool uniforms in the hot St. Louis sun.