Talk:David Halberstam

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As of 2013-11-01, sections 1 to 7.1 date from 2006–2007 exclusively. -P64

Untitled[edit]

"...and in 1979 published a flawed but enormously informative book" ... what, did your copy have a bad binding? "Citation needed" is a bit weak of an excuse for what comes across as a -- to say the least, POV -- gibe. And it clashes on many levels (logically, aesthetically) with the subsequent "enormously informative".... Or maybe the thought is that the "big book" is flawed because it is just that: enormous? Anyway, the wording seems... oh, I don't know... flawed. - Michael (talk|contrib) 11:09, 19 September 2006‎ (UTC)

citation regarding Kennedy's request to transfer Halberstam[edit]

This incident is reported in Neil Sheehan's "Bright Shining Lie" — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kukec (talkcontribs) 18:39, 1 November 2006‎ (UTC)

Thích Quảng Ðức?[edit]

Surely Halberstam's article should contain refrence to his story on Thích Quảng Ðức's self-immolation. Ka5hmir 09:41, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Possible Error in "Death" section[edit]

Are we sure this is correct? "He was a passenger in a car broadsided by another vehicle--ironically driven by a journalism school student--while making a left turn across opposing traffic..." Where is a source for the information that the driver of the car that hit him is a journalism student? In the linked articles, it says "The driver of the car carrying Halberstam is a student at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley..." and this " Acker would not release further details of the accident." Is this an error or is there a source?

---CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/23/halberstam.death/index.html) agrees that the driver of the hit car was a graduate student, not the driver of the car that broadsides them. Newtman 04:01, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Reason for crash[edit]

"Cars turning left at the intersection onto Willow Road may proceed only when they have a green arrow." So either the car in which Halberstam was driving, or the car that hit him, appears to have run a red light. Which was it? Badagnani 00:07, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

It's not yet clear who was at fault. That's why Menlo Park police are still asking for witnesses to call them so they can get as much information as possible as to the state of the traffic lights and who ran a red light. Obviously, someone was negligent (those types of broadside accidents normally don't happen when people pay attention to the traffic lights), but the question is who.
I'm really surprised no major news service has pointed out that Bayfront Expressway is an incredibly dangerous road. It should have been upgraded to a freeway a long time ago but Palo Alto has long opposed the upgrade because it fears that simplifying the western approach to the Dumbarton Bridge will make a commute to Palo Alto more appealing to East Bay residents, who will then clog up its streets. --Coolcaesar 07:33, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
This accident and the Corzine New Jersey accident highlight the dangers of the ropad. People routinely disregarding the safety of otters and thenselvfes. The France has a tradgedition of speeding ticket amnesties after each (chaque) election which raises the fatality rate on the roads before each election... Chivista 12:52, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

So, what was the verdict? Or are they still studying it? The guy who was driving is still alive, isn't he? Badagnani 05:39, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

They're still investigating as far as I know. All the information publicly disclosed so far shows that this was a negligent, not intentional accident. Negligently caused deaths, unfortunately, are a lower priority than intentional crimes, so it will take a while (probably three to six months) for the Menlo Park cops to finish their investigation. Also, the junction was between a city and state road so they have to coordinate with the CHP and Caltrans. --Coolcaesar 05:58, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

The journalism student was the driver and was found to be at fault in early 2008. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 5 days in jail and 200 hours of community service. The article has been updated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.4.224.238 (talk) 02:43, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Issue with nationality[edit]

Isn't saying someone is American the same as saying they are European? America is not a country and American is not a nationality, the term refers to two continents and three geograhic zones in the western hemisphere.----wsb05/21/2007

See Use of the word American. --Coolcaesar 18:54, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Nonsense! "American" is commonly (nationally and internationally) accepted as a term for a citizen of the United States. I am not bothering to look up a reference. LAM — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.4.224.238 (talk) 02:47, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Criticism[edit]

Curious why someone inserted "criticism" of Halberstam's work by an author who is a known revisionist historian who can't even get a job in El Paso? Mark Moyar has published a book that tries to argue that Vietnam was a conflict that could have been won (debatable), denigrates the ingerity journalists who were actually there (Halberstam, Sheehan, etc), and defends Ngo Dinh Diem as a "wise and effective leader". This is really fringe stuff, and it's no wonder this guy can't get a job. If there is genuine criticism from credible sources, let's put it in. But not from some right wing hack who is going to be writing another revisionist tome about how great Iraq was 20 years from now. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.231.21.29 (talkcontribs) 03:35, 4 August 2007‎ (UTC)

I agree with the WP:UNDUE concerns: There's no corroboration, and Moyar by his own admission is on the fringe. And the phrase, "the most harmful journalists in American history," is purely subjective and far too likely to be hyperbole to make it in to the article. ←BenB4 00:37, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
I inserted the criticism, and I still think it belongs. I believe the "undue weight" guideline actually supports me on this one; it states, "the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source." The criticism was published by the National Review, which is cited extensively elsewhere on Wikipedia; removing the viewpoint would thus be a violation of the undue weight guideline. As to the shunning of Moyar by academia, that's an interesting discussion that could be had but it's not necessary, given that the piece being quoted was published in a major opinion magazine. Korny O'Near 11:35, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
Opinion pieces do not have editorial oversight or a fact-checking policy, and therefore are not reliable sources. Exactly how is the opposing mainstream viewpoint represented? ←BenB4 18:49, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
I removed it. Moyar wrote in Triumph forsaken that Diem did not cheat in the 1955 State of Vietnam referendum despite getting 133% of the vote in Saigon. He also thinks that Vietnamese and Chinese people are the best of friends and tells us that his schoolf of thought has "few adherents" in the academic world. Well, we can see where his POV is and also I searched JSTOR for a review of his work and it says "highly tendentious", "worse than disappointing" .Blnguyen (bananabucket) 01:58, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is about verification not truth. If the viewpoint has been presented in a reliable source, then there is no reason to delete it. Certainly Halberstam‎'s reliance on Pham Xuan An has been mentioned. It may be a minoirty viewpoint and Moyer may be a revisionist, but is revisionism enough of a reason to delete a source from an article? If thats the case, look out. I am suprised that JSTOR didnt like the book, because they usually gobble up revisionism. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 02:23, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but is still highly fringe at the moment. The book is less than a year old and we are yet to know if it is going to make much of an impact in academic circles or just for being notorious. I do wonder whether a rebuttal should be put in there about Pham Xuan An. In Karnow's book, Karnow and An talk to each other after the war. An denies making up fake propaganda in the news, saying that if he put fakr info out, it would blow his cover. Thoughts on putting a journo response to Moyar's accusations if the accusations stay there? The other thing is that more notable cirticism would be that JFK asked NYT to pull Halberstam out and some other ppl, eg Marguerite Higgins, who was also a strong Diem supporter, but at least had a Pulitzer from Korea are more notable than Moyar and his hagiography of Diem (and rank acidic personal attacks on Halberstam etc calling Diem opponents as venomous snakes and so forth) Blnguyen (bananabucket) 03:27, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Korny,the National Review is hardly a "reliable source". It's a conservative magazine that has anything but a neutral POV. Criticism is fine, but sourcing an opinion journal article by an agenda driven historian who resides on the fringe of academia hardly constitutes a mainstream criticism. The notion that Mr.Halberstam or Mr.Sheehan got all of their information about the Diem regime from this double agent is just flat out false. Both journalists saw first hand how Ngo Dinh Diem cruelly oppressed his people and how he used his military not to defeat the Viet-Cong, but to merely solidify his power and protect himself from a coup. The idea that these journalists were somehow responsible for the US's failure in Vietnam ludicrous, and it is beneath Wikipedia to include the musings of a failed historian who can only get a reading on a right wing opinion journal.
It's very important to stress here that this is opinion being cited as opinion, not as fact - the article doesn't say that Halberstam did any of these things, just that one historian has written that he did. See the article American empire for what I think is a good example of an article that cites the viewpoints of historians from across the political spectrum, from Howard Zinn to Victor Davis Hanson, while making it clear that they're all opinions. Also, I don't think the book represents as fringe a viewpoint as some people have claimed - check out all the positive blurbs on the book's Amazon.com page, both from journalists (almost all right-wing, it's true), and historians. Yes, there's obviously a political divide that still impacts people's view of the Vietnam War, but the pro-war, pro-Diem side of it, whatever its validity (I'm far from an expert) has a lot of adherents and couldn't be called "fringe". Feel free to add to the "Criticism" section some sort of rebuttal to the charges - the book has been out for just about a year now, so it shouldn't be hard to find. Korny O'Near 14:01, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Moyer is not the only guy who thought that Halberstam's dispatches influenced Kennedy’s actions: In Vietnam, he gave generous coverage to the Buddhist protests against the Diem regime, and I think he saw the Buddhists as something like the southern blacks and Diem as something like the southern segregationists. Kennedy resented Halberstam's coverage, but it probably contributed to Kennedy's authorizing, or failing to prevent, the November 1963 coup in Vietnam, in which Diem and his brother were murdered. Michael Barone. David Kaiser also made a similar case about Halberstam's influence on state department officers Averell Harriman and Roger Hilsman, and how it shaped Washinton’s attitudes on the coup. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 20:48, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Interesting that on the one hand, Halberstam supposedly influenced Kennedy's support for a coup, and on the other Kennedy asked the NYTimes to fire him? Don't get it. Kennedy wants to fire the guy, but is so impressed with his journalism that he turns around and order the CIA to support a coup? That's just ridiculous. The historical research overwhelmingly documents the Diem's horrible oppression of his own people, and Mr.Halberstam and his colleagues helped policy makers aware of the problems. But to suggest as Mr.Moyar does that "Halberstam, Sheehan, and Karnow inadvertently caused enormous damage to the American effort in South Vietnam—making them the most harmful journalists in American history." is just so downright misleading and hyperbolic, it's really hard to take this guy seriously. To add to that, the guy only has one peer reviewed article in the literature, had a hard time finding a job at a respectable institution, and both of his books were panned by real historians. This guy reminds me of those Discovery Institute "scholars" who try to publish stuff on Intelligent Design. They simply aren't taken seriously by their peers in the academic community. As for Michael Barone, he's another conservative! And for him to suggest that the work of these reporters led these politicians by the nose is poppy cock. President Kennedy had a very able and astute Ambassador in the form of Henry Cabot Lodge, who was able to see quite clearly that the Diem regime was nothing more than a corrupt class of elites with fascist impulses who were not interested in liberal democracy. And who is David Kaiser? I mean, you need to come up with some better stuff. Mark Moyar is not a serious historian. I'm sure there is legitimate criticism of Halberstam's work, but let's not use the discredited accounts of a revisionist historian with a right wing agenda.

As to the Kennedy bit, Moyar might argue that Kennedy didn't mistrust Halberstam enough - that he disliked Halberstam for publishing what he thought were "uncomfortable truths", not realizing they were actually uncomfortable falsehoods. I don't know; as I said before, I'm no expert, and in any case my opinion doesn't matter. The opinion was published in a notable political magazine, and I think that by itself makes it worthy for inclusion. You seem to have an exactingly high standard for inclusion of historical opinion - it must be written by a history professor who's been peer-reviewed, and that you've heard of. Please show me the Wikipedia guidelines you're basing this standard on. Also, do you have any links or citations for anyone "panning" or "discreting" Moyar's writings on Vietnam? Korny O'Near 05:24, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Out of 20+ history textbooks that I have consulted, only Moyar thinks that Diem won the 1955 State of Vietnam referendum with no cheating (how did he get 133%?) and also that Diem gave the Buddhists special treatment and disproportionate privileges. He's also the only historical book that I read which said RoV was not a Buddhist majority [in name if not benature]. Blnguyen (bananabucket) 06:26, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
WP:V#Sources requires controversial sources to have editorial oversight or a fact-checking policy, and an opinion piece doesn't, and Moyar admits he's on the fringe. Even if it's all true, and Halberstam was duped by a secret agent, the agent deserves the blame, not Halberstam. And the Diem regime was indisputably corrupt and brutal in the first place, so any historian who would say his stories about Diem makes him one of the most dangerous journalists is just kooky. ←BenB4 06:21, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
The "sources" that this guideline is talking about are publications, not authors, so the source in question is the National Review, not Moyar. NR is not a controversial source in terms of the actual facts they print (it's the commentary around those facts that's obviously subject to political debate.) Similarly, the facts published in opinion pieces do indeed have editorial oversight; I don't know why you say they don't - given that that's all that opinion journals like NR, TNR etc. publish, if they didn't have oversight on such pieces they wouldn't have oversight at all. Thus, this piece deserves mention under both the guidelines cited so far, "Undue Weight" and "Sources". Blnguyen, your questioning of Moyar's statements in his book, while interesting, is irrelevant for two reasons: first, the statements only appear in his book, not in the opinion piece cited; second, as I said before, the reputation of National Review is enough to include the piece: by a literal reading of the guidelines, even an opinion piece in NR by the editor's five-year-old son could be cited in Wikipedia.
And one more thing: as before, do you have any citations for historians dismissing Moyar's writings on Vietnam as fringe or kooky? Given the press attention he's gotten, it's hard to argue that he's too obscure an author to merit response to. Korny O'Near 14:46, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
OpEds in otherwise reputable newspapers aren't considered reliable, and as you say, NR is controversial in terms of the commentary it publishes. There is no way a fact checker could determine the accuracy of whether Halberstam was influenced by a secret agent, or how much his stories influenced Kennedy, or whether he was one of the most dangerous journalists in America. The former are historian's judgment calls requiring extensive research. The latter is just pure opinion and likely hyperbole at that. Since all agree that the Diem regime was corrupt and brutal, and Moyar admits that he's alone in his opinions, I just can't countenance including this at all. Frankly, it sounds like an immature smear. No way. ←BenB4 15:17, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Are you really trying to make the case that opinion pieces have no place in Wikipedia because they lack editorial oversight? That’s a fairly poor reading of WP:V and WP:RS and if true would be grounds for the removal of material from other “opinion pieces” in nearly every article. The fact that Moyer was published in a reliable source means that it meets one of the criteria for inclusion into this article.
Secondly, there seems to be a misunderstanding of his point about Diem and Halberstam. Moyer is not a fan of Diem, and certainly is not holding him up as an example of good governance. Moyar makes the case, quite well I might add, that Diem was a competent foil to Hanoi, and that he had been successful at suppressing Hanoi’s covert (through the Buddhists, and guerrillas) and overt aggression towards Saigon. He goes on to blame Halberstam, Karnow, and Sheehan’s influence on Lodge as a primary factor influencing the backing of coup and Pham Xuan An’s influence on Halberstam Karnow, and Sheehan as a factor in their opinions on Diem.
Lastly, this is not the place to discuss the merits of the source, only if it meets the requirements for inclusion. There have been multiple book review, all of which I have read seem to be fairly positive. Moyar had also been published in several newspapers and has a position at the Marine Corps University. Its almost impossible to see how people can argue he is not an RS. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 15:55, 8 August 2007 (UTC)


"OpEds in otherwise reputable newspapers aren't considered reliable", "Moyar admits that he's alone in his opinions" - I'd like to see some evidence for either of these two statements. Columns and editorials are routinely cited on Wikipedia, and I doubt the second one is true, given the number of positive reviews and blurbs his book received. Korny O'Near 15:27, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Per WP:V, the burden of proof rests with those wishing to include controversial material. WP:UNDUE is clear:
  • If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
  • If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia
Note that "prominent adherents" is plural -- is there anyone who agrees with Moyar about Halberstam printing false information from a secret agent? About him being a most dangerous journalist? I think not. ←BenB4 15:41, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

The statement being made in the Wikipedia article is that Mark Moyar said this, not that any of it is actually true. Thus, the burden of proof has quite easily been met. If the article were itself to claim that Halberstam printed false information, the burden of proof would obviously be a lot higher. As to whether others agree with Moyar's view of Halberstam, two have been named on this discussion page alone - Michael Barone and David Kaiser. The Amazon.com review page for the book also lists positive reviews from over 30 other people, including Mackubin Thomas Owens, Max Boot and Jim Webb. It's doubtful that any of them (let alone all of them) fundamentally disagree with the claims about Halberstam presented in the book. Korny O'Near 15:57, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Sure it's true he said it, but unless there's explicit corroboration from reliable sources, it's still too small of a viewpoint to include. The people you name are described above as saying other things about Halberstam, not that he printed lies from a secret agent or that he was a most dangerous journalist in America. ←BenB4 16:02, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent by Larry Berman makes the case that Halberstam along with lots of other journalists relied on Pham as a source and considered him a trusted friend. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 16:25, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
That's distinct from printing lies from Pham. And again, if there were lots of journalists involved, and Diem was as bad as everyone agrees he was, this stuff should be part of Pham's or Diem's articles, or both, not the journalists'. ←BenB4 22:41, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Korny said he wanted some evidence that actual historians who've read his books find his thesis to be on the fringe. Here's a couple...http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/36138.html, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-8723(199903)85:4%3C1675:%3E2.0.CO;2-7&origin=historycoop, http://www.historycooperative.org/cgi-bin/justtop.cgi?act=justtop&url=http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/94.1/br_116.html. The last two will require special access (hopefully some of you will have access to a university library) Ultimately, these guys Moyar a fair reading, but totally disagree with his conclusions by pointing out that he's basically cherry picking the data to fit his thesis. Some of the highlights include ""worse than disappointing" complaining "a review can only scratch the surface of the questionable elements." Questionable indeed. It's nice to get good reviews from the Max Boots and the Mackubin Thomas Owens and the rest of the National Review/neoconservative crowd who want to whitewash history, but to quote Professor Kuzmarov, Moyar's ideas "do not hold up before the voluminous evidence".
Ben - the allegations should be in the articles about Pham, Diem and the journalists, since they were all involved in the story. Anonymous person - thanks for finding the links. It's too bad I can only read the first one, but that one itself is instructive. Interestingly, the one point on which Kuzmarov agrees somewhat with Moyar is about the journalists - "Moyar raises some valid criticisms about the methodologies of American journalists like Sheehan and Halberstam who were influential in shaping public opinion". So, we have a set of historians and commentators who agree with Moyar, and a (perhaps larger) set of historians who disagree with him. Does that mean the criticism should be absent from this article? No, it means both the criticism and the counter-criticism should appear - perhaps in a section titled "Diem coup controversy". Korny O'Near 12:44, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

section break[edit]

I'm not opposed to criticism, or saying that he was influenced by Pham and his reporting influenced Kennedy's decision to go to war, which by itself doesn't even seem like criticism to me. The thing that set me off was the "one of the most dangerous journalists" thing, which just seems like immature name-calling. And, apart from that, saying that he was persuaded to write Pham's lies about Diem just doesn't seem to have the support from anyone other than Moyar -- and even if it did, the fact that Diem and his buddies were doing such bad things out in the open should be used to balance Moyar's opinion that it was all due to Pham's lies. What Diem was doing was bad enough without Pham to make it worse, and like Pham said way after the fact, he didn't risk lies because it would have endangered his cover. I wonder where Moyar gets the story in the first place; too bad he doesn't say in his article. ←BenB4 13:29, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, if you accept that (a) Halberstam and the other two journalists helped get Diem deposed, and (b) Diem was the only thing standing in the way of a Communist victory in South Vietnam, then that "most dangerous journalists" description isn't very much hyperbole or name-calling, is it? I mean, what journalists would be more dangerous? I'm not saying either of those conditions is true, just that it doesn't seem as out-of-the-blue a statement as you might think it is. Korny O'Near 21:31, 9 August 2007 (UTC)
Well Korny, like many of our neoconservative friends, you conveniently left out that Moyar called "them the most harmful journalists in American history." Your rendition of "most dangerous journalists" is a deliberate ploy to downplay what Moyar actually said. What are you trying to prove here? What Moyar wrote was tantamount to calling these journalists traitors and responsible for America's failure in Vietnam. I'm sorry, to most objective observers, that's way "out-of-the-blue". We've had enough of that rhetoric to last a generation. Journalists who are dangerous are those, who, oh, I don't know, reveal the identity of clandestine officers in the CIA? Why not go over to the Plame scandal and try your hand over there. Might be more successful! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.231.21.29 (talkcontribs) 23:46, 9 August 2007‎ (UTC)
I used the word "dangerous" because that's what Ben, right above me, used, and I assumed that was the direct quote. If the word was "harmful", just substitute in "harmful" in what I wrote; the point is the same. No, Moyar isn't calling Halberstam a traitor (that implies willful harm), but yes, he is saying that Halberstam et al. helped cause America's loss in Vietnam. Whether or not the "harmful" line is in there, that's the direct implication. You may agree or not with this opinion (you obviously don't), but I think a good case has been laid out here that the opinion is notable enough to be included in this article. Also, please lay off the personal attacks; believe it or not, they reveal much more about your political biases than they do about mine. Korny O'Near 05:29, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
My fault, the quote was one of "the most harmful journalists in American history." Given that smoking causes as many deaths every five months as we lost in Vietnam, why weren't the journalists that didn't run the Surgeon General's report early on more harmful? ←BenB4 06:11, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

2007 to 2013[edit]

There has been no substantial contribution to this Talk page since August 2007 (immediate above, now section 7.1), or 75 months ago! (diff 2007-08-10 to 2013-11-01)

The page is not so long (or so active!) that it should be archived, afaik. Hereafter the history from 2013-11-01 will show whether anyone has inserted comment above. --P64 (talk) 18:35, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Today's edit[edit]

My complex revision today is substantial only regarding the first part of its edit summary, the portion underlined here:

specify Pulitzer Prize w official ref; add Ext links {LCAuth} and thus Catalog, LCCN, GND; // ALSO BEGIN to reduce WP:OVERLINKage and to format apostrophe, dash, date, title, ref

The second part of that refers to my insertion at the end of External links:

Bibliography

(There now 48 catalog records, a number that I did not specify as the third template parameter value.)

Regarding Pulitzer Prize(s) the official website shows DH a winner only "for International Reporting" in 1964, only a finalist for later books (Search: halberstam). In today's edit I ignored the finalists, provided an official reference for the 1964 prize (multiple locations), re-arranged the specification of prize for International Reporting (multiple locations), and made this change in section Criticism:

"all won Pulitzer Prizes for their post-war works on the war."

Because DH himself, at least, was a PP winner only as war correspondent, not for subsequent work.

All the rest is insubstantial. Within references, date locations and formats are now consistent. I didn't make a decision about authorname format —firstlast or lastfirst— simply moved author names to the front (along with mdy publ dates).

--P64 (talk) 18:35, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Vietnam, and further re Criticism[edit]

As it is currently presented, this article on David Halberstam is extremely unbalanced, and unfair to him with regard to the war in Vietnam. Here I'm concentrating on the Marguerite Higgins criticisms, but also see the discussions of Mark Moyar above in the talkpage section titled Criticism.


First, the Vietnam section of the article begins with these two sentences:

"Halberstam arrived in Vietnam in the middle of 1962, to be a full-time Vietnam specialist for The New York Times.[4] 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."

I have now added a [citation needed] tag to the second sentence, not because I dispute the assertion, but simply because it is presently uncited. My real objection is that in context it is extremely prejudicial, giving the impression that Halberstam relied primarily or even solely for his reporting on information fed by a secret North Vietnamese agent.

This impression is then reinforced in the Criticism section, where Marguerite Higgins

"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."[unbalanced opinion?][19] She claimed they had ulterior motives, saying "reporters here would like to see us lose the war to prove they're right."[20]"

The [unbalanced opinion?] tag is mine. Marguerite Higgins was indeed a very famous and respected war correspondent from WWII and especially the Korean War, as well as in Vietnam; and I suspect her name may lend her opinion more credibility than those of the other two people cited for criticizing Halberstam, both of whom could be characterized as right-wing zealots. The giveaway for Higgins is in the opening: "... [she] was the staunchest pro-Diệm journalist in the Saigon press corps ...". Then: "She claimed they had ulterior motives, saying "reporters here would like to see us lose the war to prove they're right." I have no idea of Higgins' politics, but her very strong sense of American patriotism and rightness cannot be in doubt:

"She witnessed the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945 and received a U.S. Army campaign ribbon for her assistance during the surrender by its S.S. guards. She later covered the Nuremberg war trials and the Soviet Union's blockade of Berlin."

Then in 1950, shortly after being assigned to Tokyo as bureau chief, North Korea invaded the South, and

"... she came to the country as one of the first reporters on the spot. On 28 June, Higgins and three of her colleagues witnessed the Hangang Bridge bombing, and were trapped on the north bank of Han River as a result. After crossing the river by raft and came to the US military HQ in Suwon on the next day, she was quickly ordered out of the country by General Walton Walker, who argued that women did not belong at the front and the military had no time to worry about making separate accommodations for them. Higgins made a personal appeal to Walker's superior officer, General Douglas MacArthur, who subsequently sent a telegram to the Herald Tribune stating: Ban on women correspondents in Korea has been lifted. Marguerite Higgins is held in highest professional esteem by everyone."

Patriotic, self-confident, with extensive experience of the horrors of aggression and war - and proud. Higgins must have felt disdain and even horror of these young men, inexperienced in war, who had the temerity to sit in their hotel rooms and undermine the American military efforts and morale. This is all perfectly understandable. Higgins may also have been jealous to some extent, accustomed to being THE leading voice in war reporting, and now overshadowed by upstart David Halberstam in the New York Times.

The WP article on Higgins goes on to say

"Higgins continued to cover foreign affairs throughout the rest of her life, interviewing world leaders such as Francisco Franco, Nikita Khrushchev, and Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1955, she established and was chief of the Tribune's Moscow bureau. In 1963, she joined Newsday and was assigned to cover Vietnam, "visited hundreds of villages", interviewed most of the major figures, and wrote a book entitled Our Vietnam Nightmare."


Now 50 years later it's pretty hard to find good cites for what Halberstam actually did in Vietnam; the only one I've found so far is in the Academy of Achievement biography, which merely says he "found another story when he followed the troops into the field." I have no idea about either Sheehan or Arnett, but it has always been my understanding that Halberstam in fact spent considerable time traveling all around Vietnam, accompanying troops on missions, and interviewing anyone and everyone that he could, both American and Vietnamese, including peasant farmers and villagers. He did not just sit in his Saigon hotel room typing seditious lies fed to him by a North Vietnamese secret agent.

Halberstam was a generation younger than Higgins. He had no direct experience of WWII or Korea.* His mindset was certainly different from hers; his own experience was in covering the developing Civil Rights Movement in the South. He was never an anti-war activist, but unlike Higgins he had learned to question authority, and to see other sides of an issue. So it's only natural that what these two correspondents saw and heard, and integrated into their understanding of the war, was very different from each other's. This is not to say that one was right and the other wrong.

This is the problem with the article as it presently stands: Higgins makes accusations that are left entirely unanswered and unexplained. I've discussed Higgins at length here, because she is a deservedly well-respected war observer and correspondent - she isn't a fruitcake with a right-wing agenda. But as it stands at present, none of the criticisms in this section are responded to at all, leaving a badly unbalanced article. Milkunderwood (talk) 08:01, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

(*In fact he would have liable for the draft in the Korean War, and must have had a student deferment for college.) Milkunderwood (talk) 08:23, 26 February 2014 (UTC)


One of many problems with using Higgins as a major source for the denigration of Halberstam is her death in January 1966. She did not live long enough to evaluate Halberstam's work in the context of later developments. HowardMorland (talk) 03:46, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

David Halberstam#Criticism edit[edit]

I removed the following sentence fragment from the section: deriding them as "typewriter strategists" who were "seldom at the scenes of battle." The citation listed did not support the content. I tried google searching the phrases and came up with no original source. I also searched her book "Our Vietnam nightmare and again could find no trace of the quotes. If someone can provide the source then by all means add the material back in. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 22:57, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

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