Geoff Edgers of The Washington Post reminds us that we lost the great David Halberstam 10 years ago. Halberstam wrote one of the most important books I’ve ever read — “The Powers That Be,” on the rise of the Post, the Los Angeles Times, CBS News and Time magazine. It had a huge influence on me, and I vividly remember wading through it in 1979 while I was working at my first full-time newspaper job and living on the seedy side of Beacon Hill. (Yes, Beacon Hill had a seedy side at that time.)
Later I read two of Halberstam’s sports books, “The Breaks of The Game” and “The Teammates,” the latter a wonderful story about the friendship of Red Sox players Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dominic DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr during their final years. Halberstam’s Vietnam book, “The Best and the Brightest,” is widely acknowledged as one of the most important pieces of journalism ever produced about that misguided war.
For Halberstam, the facts were the foundation. And that foundation established a truth that allowed him to draw on his vast knowledge of politics, psychology and social structure. He also, on a simple level, simply worked harder than anyone else. The evidence is in the 21 books he left behind.
He was also fiercely competitive and could hold a grudge. If Halberstam has faded into the mists of your memory, read Edgers’ account. It will remind you of what made him one of the greatest journalists of the 20th century.
Seth Gitell has posted a short but sweet remembrance of Halberstam on Facebook.