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David Halberstam, RIP

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David Halberstam has been killed in a car accident, age 73. Can’t quite take this in yet, in part because the accident happened in a location I drive by all the time, and also because for me Halberstam’s one of those personages who's always been there, like the Queen and Woody Allen, and every few years or so there’s another one of his books with the overexcited run-on sentences and emphatic style (there’s an old Doonesbury cartoon where a character based on Halberstam is asked how he likes his coffee, and he says something like, ‘Black, completely black, utterly without cream and sugar’). A great reporter is gone. Rest in peace.


The impact forced the two cars into a third car. The 73-year-old Halberstam, who either leaving a speaking engagement or going to it, was wearing a seat belt, the coroner's office said.

Halberstam had spoken Saturday night at UC-Berkeley on "Turning Journalism into History."

Orville Schell, the dean of Berkeley's graduate school of journalism, said in an e-mail this afternoon that Halberstam was on his way to an interview for his next book, about the Korean War, at the time of the accident.

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I admired particularly 'The Best and the Brightest,' but offhand I can't think of a book of his not worth picking up. And a reporter so diligent that President Kennedy asked the publisher of the Times if he would please take Halberstam off the Vietnam beat. :blushing:

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I used to see David Halberstam on the way to the park with my dog. He was a tall and slender, with broad shoulders, strong features, a square jaw, and chocolate-toned baritone, and he often walked Winnie, a small West Highland White Terrier. The juxtaposition of the imposing, utterly masculine figure and the little lap dog always struck me as incongruous and funny. This news hit me like a punch to the stomach.

As a reporter and author, he never allowed his passion to compromise his professionalism. This is a great loss in so many ways.

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The San Jose Mercury News has been posting regular updates. Apparently Halberstam was not working on a Korean War book, but on a book about the ’58 Giants-Colts game – he was heading to an interview with Y.A.Tittle.

Menlo Park police said today they have interviewed several witnesses in their investigation into Monday's three-car crash that took the life of Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam and have not yet determined who was at fault or if charges will be filed.

"As of today, several witnesses of the accident have come forward, which are helping the investigation," said a news release posted on the police department's Web site. "We are continuing to encourage witnesses to this incident to contact the Menlo Park Police Department."

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_5740849?nclick_check=1 (Warning: this link has a photo of the Camry in which Halberstam was riding. No surprise that he didn't survive.)


Correcting my earlier post – as the memory bank jogs, I recall that it wasn’t a character based on Halberstam, it was Halberstam himself, arriving at the home of Rick Redfern and Joanie Caucus to interview Rick for his new book. (‘I don’t write books. I write tomes. Tomes about power.’)

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Thank you, dirac. The book about the Korean War is finished and was due out this fall, but I would be surprised if the publisher doesn't bring it to market sooner.

NPR has a page which links to various remembrances including Ted Koppel's and a 1987 profile by Scott Simon. Another NPR page features Scott Simon's poignant tribute (in text and audio) from this afternoon's All Things Considered.

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