About: David Halberstam (April 10, 1934–April 23, 2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author known for his early work on the Vietnam War and his later sports journalism.
Halberstam graduated from Harvard University with a degree in journalism in 1955 and started his career writing for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing for The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee, he covered the beginnings of the American Civil Rights Movement.
In the mid 1960s, Halberstam covered the Vietnam War for The New York Times. While there, he gathered material for his book The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era. In 1963, he received a George Polk Award for his reporting at the New York Times. At the age of 30, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the war. He is interviewed in the 1968 documentary film on the Vietnam War entitled In the Year of the Pig.
Halberstam put an enormous effort into his book about Kennedy's foreign policy decisions about the Vietnam War, The Best and the Brightest. Synthesizing material from dozens of books and many dozens of interviews, Halberstam focused on the odd paradox that those who crafted the U.S. war effort in Vietnam were some of the most intelligent, well-connected and self-confident men in America—"the best and the brightest"—and yet those same men were unable to imagine and promote any but a bloody and disastrous course in the Vietnam War.
Thousands of readers began The Best and the Brightest feeling that the U.S. must pursue the war in Vietnam until "victory" was achieved, but became convinced by Halberstam's book that the U.S. could not win and therefore should withdraw from Vietnam.
After publication of The Best and the Brightest in 1972, Halberstam plunged right into another "big" book and in 1979 published an informative book about some of the major media outlets in America. The Powers That Be gave compelling profiles of men like William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine, Phil Graham of The Washington Post—and many others.
Later in his career, Halberstam turned to the subjects of sports, publishing The Breaks of the Game, an inside look at the Bill Walton and the 1978 Portland Trailblazers basketball team; an ambitious book on Michael Jordan in 1999 called Playing for Keeps; and on the pennant race battle between the Yankees and Red Sox called Summer of '49.
After publishing two books in the 1960s, Halberstam published three books in the 1970s, four books in the 1980s, and six books in the 1990s. He published four books in the 2000s and was on a pace to publish six or more books in that decade before his death. In the wake of 9/11, Halberstam wrote perhaps the most sensitive and insightful book about that tragedy, detailing Engine 40, Ladder 35, in the tome, Firehouse.
In 1980, an escaped convict from New York, Bernard C. Welch, Jr., murdered Halberstam's brother, Michael J. Halberstam, a Washington, D.C. cardiologist. Halberstam refused to comment publicly about this incident.
SOME OF David Halberstam WORKS: