April 10, 1934|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 23, 2007
Menlo Park, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Journalist, author, historian|
|Spouse(s)||Elżbieta Czyżewska (1965-1977; divorced)
Jean Sandness Butler (1979-2007; his death; 1 child)
David Halberstam (April 10, 1934 – April 23, 2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, and historian, known for his early work on the Vietnam War, his work on politics, history, the Civil Rights Movement, business, media, American culture, and his later sports journalism.
Early life and education 
Halberstam was raised in Yonkers, New York and, earlier, had lived in Winsted, Connecticut (where he was a classmate of Ralph Nader). In 1955, he graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor of arts, and he served as managing editor of The Harvard Crimson.
Halberstam's journalism career began at the Daily Times Leader, the smallest daily newspaper in Mississippi. He covered the beginnings of the American Civil Rights Movement for The Tennessean in Nashville.
Halberstam arrived in Vietnam in the middle of 1962, to be a full-time Vietnam specialist for The New York Times. Halberstam, like many other US journalists covering Vietnam, relied heavily for information on Phạm Xuân Ẩn, who was later revealed to be a secret North Vietnamese agent.
In 1963, Halberstam received a George Polk Award for his reporting at The New York Times, including his eyewitness account of the self-immolation of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Ðức.  During the Buddhist crisis, he and Neil Sheehan debunked the claim by the Diệm regime that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam regular forces had perpetrated the brutal raids on Buddhist temples, which the American authorities had initially believed, but that the Special Forces, loyal to Diệm's brother and strategist Nhu, had done so to frame the army generals. He was also involved in a scuffle with Nhu's secret police after they punched fellow journalist Peter Arnett while the pressmen were covering a Buddhist protest. Halberstram left Vietnam in 1964. At the age of 30, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his war reporting. He is interviewed in the 1968 documentary film on the Vietnam War entitled In the Year of the Pig.
Covers civil rights movement 
In the mid-1960s, Halberstam covered the Civil Rights Movement for The New York Times. He was sent on assignment to Poland, where he soon became 'an attraction from behind the Iron Curtain' to the artistic boheme in Warsaw. The result of that fascination was a 12-year marriage to one of the most popular young actresses of that time, Elżbieta Czyżewska, on June 13, 1965. Initially well received by the communist regime, two years later he was expelled from the country as persona non grata for publishing an article in The New York Times, criticizing the Polish government. Czyżewska followed him, becoming an outcast herself; that decision disrupted her career in the country where she was a big star, adored by millions. In the spring of 1967, he traveled with Martin Luther King Jr. from New York City to Cleveland and then to Berkeley for a Harper's article, "The Second Coming of Martin Luther King." While at the Times, he gathered material for his book The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era.
Foreign policy, media works 
Halberstam next wrote about President John F. Kennedy's foreign policy decisions about the Vietnam War in The Best and the Brightest. In 1972, Halberstam went to work on his next book, The Powers That Be, published in 1979 and featuring profiles of media titans like William S. Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine and Phil Graham of The Washington Post.
In 1980 his brother, cardiologist Michael J. Halberstam, was murdered during a burglary. Halberstam made his only public comment related to his brother's murder when he and Michael's widow castigated Life magazine, then published monthly, for paying Michael's killer $9,000 to pose in jail for color photographs that appeared on inside pages of the February 1981 edition of Life.
In 1991, Halberstam wrote The Next Century, in which he argued that, after the end of the Cold War, the United States was likely to fall behind economically to other countries such as Japan and Germany.
Sports writing 
Later in his career, Halberstam turned to sports, publishing The Breaks of the Game, an inside look at Bill Walton and the 1979-80 Portland Trail Blazers basketball team; an ambitious book on Michael Jordan in 1999 called Playing for Keeps; and on the baseball pennant race battle between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, called Summer of '49. In 1997, Halberstam received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College.
Later years 
After publishing four books in the 1960s, including the novel The Noblest Roman, The Making of a Quagmire, and The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy, he wrote three books in the 1970s, four books in the 1980s, and six books in the 1990s, including his 1999 "The Children" which chronicled the 1959-1962 Nashville Student Movement. He wrote four more books in the 2000s and was working on at least two others at the time of his death. In the wake of the 9/11, Halberstam wrote a book about the attacks, Firehouse, which describes the life of the men from Engine 40, Ladder 35 of the New York City Fire Department.
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, Halberstam's last book, was published posthumously in September 2007.
Halberstam died on April 23, 2007 in a traffic accident in Menlo Park, California near the Dumbarton Bridge. He was in the area to give a talk at an event at UC Berkeley and was en route to Mountain View to interview Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle for a book about the 1958 NFL Championship. Halberstam's driver Kevin Jones, a graduate student at the UC Berkeley Journalism School who was given the opportunity to drive Halberstam to the interview by the department, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges. Jones proceeded from a controlled left turn lane on California State Route 84 against opposing traffic and a red light, and his vehicle was then hit broadside on the front passenger side, with fatal consequences for his passenger, Halberstam. Jones was subsequently sentenced to five days in jail (with the sentencing judge recommending that the sentence be served in the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office's work program rather than actually behind bars), to 200 hours of community service, and to two years of probation. The judge also ordered Jones to complete a driving course. The California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Jones's driver's license for a period of one to three years.
After Halberstam's death, the book project was taken over by Frank Gifford, who played for the losing New York Giants in the 1958 championship game, and was published by HarperCollins in October 2008 with an introduction dedicated to David Halberstam.
Halberstam was generous with his time and advice to other authors. To cite just one instance, author Howard Bryant in the Acknowledgments section of Juicing the Game, his 2005 book about steroids in baseball, said of Halberstam's assistance: "He provided me with a succinct road map and the proper mind-set." Bryant went on to quote Halberstam on how to tackle a controversial non-fiction subject: "Think about three or four moments that you believe to be the most important during your time frame. Then think about what the leadership did about it. It doesn't have to be complicated. What happened, and what did the leaders do about it? That's your book."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Korean War correspondent Marguerite Higgins was the staunchest pro-Diệm journalist in the Saigon press corps and she frequently clashed with her younger male colleagues such as Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett and Halberstam. She derided them as "typewriter strategists" who were "seldom at the scenes of battle". She claimed they had ulterior motives, claiming "Reporters here would like to see us lose the war to prove they're right."
Mark Moyar, a historian, claimed that Halberstam, along with fellow Vietnam journalists Neil Sheehan and Stanley Karnow, helped to bring about the 1963 South Vietnamese coup against President Ngô Đình Diệm by sending negative information on Diệm to the U.S. government, in news articles and in private, because they decided Diệm was unhelpful in the war effort. Moyar claims that much of this information was false or misleading. Sheehan, Karnow, and Halberstam all won Pulitzer Prizes for their post-war works on the war.
Newspaper editor Michael Young says Halberstam saw Vietnam as a moralistic tragedy, with America's pride deterministically bringing about its downfall. Young writes that Halberstam reduced everything to human will, turning his subjects into agents of broader historical forces and coming off like a Hollywood movie with a fated and formulaic climax. Young considers such portrayals of personalities to be both a gift and a flaw.
Awards and honors 
- 2009: Norman Mailer Prize, Distinguished Journalism
- 1964: Pulitzer Prize, International Reporting (along with Malcolm W. Browne)
List of books 
- The Noblest Roman. Houghton-Mifflin. 1961. ASIN: B0007DSNRM.
- The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era. McGraw-Hill. 1965. ISBN 0-07-555092-X.
- One Very Hot Day. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin. 1967. ASIN: B000HFUAT4.
- The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy. Random House. 1968. ISBN 0-394-45025-6.
- Ho. McGraw-Hill. 1971. ISBN 0-07-554223-4.
- The Best and the Brightest. Ballantine Books. 1972. ISBN 0-449-90870-4.
- The Powers That Be. Alfred A. Knopf. 1979. ISBN 0-252-06941-2.
- The Breaks of the Game. Ballantine Books. 1981. ISBN 0-345-29625-7.
- The Amateurs: The Story of Four Young Men and Their Quest for an Olympic Gold Medal. About the sport of rowing.: Ballantine Books. 1985. ISBN 0-449-91003-2.
- The Reckoning. Avon Books. 1986. ISBN 0-380-72147-3.
- Summer of '49. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 1989. ISBN 0-06-088426-6.
- The Next Century. Random House. 1991. ISBN 0-517-09882-2.
- The Fifties. Ballantine Books. 1993. ISBN 0-449-90933-6.
- October 1964. Ballantine Books. 1994. ISBN 0-449-98367-6.
- The Children. Ballantine Books. 1999. ISBN 0-449-00439-2.
- Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. Broadway Books. 1999. ISBN 0-7679-0444-3.
- War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals. Scribner. 2001. ISBN 0-7432-2323-3.
- Firehouse. 2002. ISBN 0-7868-8851-2.
- The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship. Hyperion. 2003. ISBN 0-7868-8867-9.
- The Education of a Coach. Hyperion. 2005. ISBN 1-4013-0879-1.
- The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. Hyperion. 2007. ISBN 1-4013-0052-9.
- The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever. HarperCollins. 2008 - Never Finished; Project continued by Frank Gifford. ISBN 0-06-154255-5.
See also 
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: David Halberstam|
- Packer, George. "Postscript: David Halberstam." The New Yorker, May 7, 2007, online at http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2007/05/07/070507ta_talk_packer
- Self-immolation of Buddhist monk
- Lyons, Richard D. (December 8, 1980). Slaying Suspect A Puzzle to Neighbors; House Was Toured Periods Away From Home Control of Handguns Sought. The New York Times
- Weiser, Benjamin. "Slain Halberstam's Kin Attack Deal by Life." The Washington Post January 16, 1981, pg. B1
- "The Next Century", Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times, February 11, 1991
- Coté, John (2007-04-23). "Author David Halberstam killed in Menlo Park". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- Leff, Lisa (2007-04-23). "Author David Halberstam dies in crash". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- "UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism event page". Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2007-04-23. Unknown parameter
- Coté, John (2007-05-12). "Lawyer for Halberstam's widow calls student driver negligent". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
- Coté, John; Stannard, Matthew B. (April 24, 2007). "David Halberstam: 1934-2007". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- Walsh, Diana (April 24, 2007). "Driver recalls Halberstam's last conversation before fatal accident". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- John Coté, Driver in Halberstam crash gets 5 days in jail, San Francisco Chronicle (February 15, 2008). Retrieved on August 2, 2012.
- In Memory of David Halberstam by CommonDreams.org
- Laura Smith (2007-06-25). "Student Charged in Death of Pulitzer Winner". Blogger News Network. Blogger News Network. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
- John Coté (November 20, 2007). "Halberstam's widow to motorist in fatal crash: Learn how to drive". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
- Prochnau, p. 350.
- "Halberstam’s History", Mark Moyar, National Review, July 5, 2007
- Young, M. (April 26, 2007) "A Man of Sharp Angles and Firm Truths" Reason Online
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- "The History Boys" Halberstam's final essay, "debunks the Bush administration's wild distortion of history"; Vanity Fair, August 2007
- "Turning Journalism Into History" Audio and transcript of Halberstam's last public event
- "Letter to My Daughter" by David Halberstam
- The Economist: Obituary
- Blast Magazine: Obituary
- Writing on Air Salon.com interview
- David Halberstam's Hit Streak Continues Powells.com interview
- David Halberstam at the Internet Movie Database
- A film clip "Power In America (1986)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Booknotes interview with Halberstam on The Fifties, July 11, 1993.
- In Depth interview with Halberstam, November 4, 2001
- David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan & The Vietnam War Writers at C-SPAN's American Writers: A Journey Through History
- Spring 2000 Commencement Address at the University of Michigan
- Spring 2003 Commencement Address at Tulane University
- Obituary, New York Times
- Appreciations: Halberstam on Journalism, New York Times
- "Nashville Was My Graduate School" -- A 2001 reminiscence by Halberstam of his early career at The Tennessean
- Shafer, Jack (2007-04-24). "David Halberstam (1934–2007)". Slate. Retrieved 2007-04-26.
- Packer, George (May 7, 2007 (print edition date)). "Postscript:David Halberstam". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- Book Review of Everything They Had at Letters On Pages