David Halberstam’s untimely death won’t be news to anyone today, but it took me until today to sift through some of the obituaries and tributes. The legacy of his Vietnam reporting is, of course, far-reaching, and his books, on an impressively wide range of subjects, have informed and inspired many readers. I was struck by this quote, requoted in the New York Times obit (“David Halberstam, 73, Reporter and Author, Dies,” by Clyde Haberman):
"A writer should be like a playwright – putting people on stage, putting ideas on stage, making the reader become the audience," he recently told an interviewer for NY1 News.
The same piece seems to suggest that the popularity of the phrase “best and the brightest” originated with Halberstam’s book of the same title. A minor point, perhaps, but anyone who can put a string of words into lasting circulation has certainly affected the public’s psyche. An Associated Press article (“Best & Brightest: Former Colleagues Pay Tribute to Halberstam“) collects quotes from his friends and colleagues, themselves heavyweights, further testament to his influence.
Here are links to the reviews of Halberstam’s books in Booklist Online (bear in mind that the BOL archive only goes back to 1992):
The Education of a Coach (2005)
Playing for Keeps (1999)
The Children (1998)
The Fifties (1993)