Archive for the ‘david halberstam’ Category

Ralph Nader Pays Tribute To David Halberstam

June 15, 2007

I’ve always been struck by the coincidence that Ralph Nader attended elementary school with David Halberstam in Winsted, Connecticut. They also were at Harvard together. These two individuals, one the initiator of public advocacy non-profits, the other a journalist of titanic proportions, provided more scrutiny over American institutions during the latter half of the 20th Century than whole armies of others. Nader, who usually comes across as cold and bureaucratic, has a touching tribute to his boyhood friend, and, if I remember correctly, sometime rival.

I covered the 2000 Green Party convention in Denver, where Nader was nominated as the party’s presidential campaign, and have followed him for years. I’ve never been much of a fan. But he is an honorable man. I heard him several weeks ago on Mike Barnicle’s show on WTKK promoting his new book and had to concede that he has made many important contributions to our country.

I was struck by how this early advocate of automobile safety made sure to point out of the spot where Halberstam’s car was hit “the intersection was known not to be a safe one.”

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Rather on Halberstam

April 26, 2007

Dan Rather and David Halberstam were journalistic contemporaries who both made names for themselves covering Vietnam. Rather, reporting for CBS News, was there after Halberstam, who had covered the story for the New York Times. I caught Rather, now reporting for HDNet, prior to John McCain’s presidential announcement in Portsmouth yesterday. (Whatever you think of Rather, the sight of the trenchcoat-clad Rather amidst the motley crew of reporters covering McCain, elevated the entitre event.)

Here’s what Rather had to say about Halberstam. “A case can be made that Halberstam was the best reporter of his generation,” Rather said going on to talk about the same quality I noted in my piece about him, his quality as a person. “What is underestimated about David was his generosity,” Rather said. “His generosity to young people was remarkable, and it was ironically the same thing that tragically lead to his death.”

David L. Halberstam ’55 , 1934 – 2007

April 24, 2007

David Halberstam

WTKK is replaying Mike Barnicle’s interview with David Halberstam from last September. It was one of the most educational and enjoyable hours of local radio I can remember.

Halberstam, who died yesterday in a car crash, was a major influence for me in getting into journalism. I remember listening to him on the David Brudnoy show and reading his books prior to graduating from Hull High School. When I walked into the offices of The Harvard Crimson at 14 Plympton Street for the first time back in September, 1987, I felt the presence of the great Halberstam, who had been the paper’s managing editor in 1955.

I remember the afternoon I got a phone call from my father, a Vietnam veteran and at the time a taxi driver in Boston. Halberstam had fit his lanky frame into my father’s cab. There Halberstam, who made his journalistic bones in Vietnam, conversed with my father, who had been working with Vietnamese villagers in the delta at the very same time. My father recalls Halberstam sitting in the front seat and calling him “sir”. They talked about Vietnam, and my father mentioned me, a young Crimson reporter. Halberstam gave my father his phone number to give to me.

Some months later, I called Halberstam at his phone in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. (NOTE to bigfoot journalists everywhere: he always kept a listed phone number.) I want to ask him questions for my senior thesis, “Broken Promise“. Halberstam was affable, intelligent and helpful.

Halberstam was at the peak of his game when I saw him at the Kennedy Library last Spring. He was on hand to deliver a keynote talk for the conference “Vietnam and the Presidency”. Halberstam’s remarks were fluid, urbane and erudite. Dressed in a blue blazer and gray wool slacks, Halberstam was the picture of the influential, thinking man’s journalist. His speech delved into the origins of the Cold War, Korea and how it played into American involvement in Vietnam.

To Halberstam’s credit, he balanced his serious tomes with short books about sports. To me, the best book about the ascendancy of my beloved New England Patriots is Halberstam’s “The Education of a Coach”, which brought out the most in the usually taciturn Bill Belichik.

Anybody today has to have a web presence. Blogs are part of the media world. But you don’t write books like Halberstam banging away on your blog all day.