A reader with experience in Asia writes, in a note with the subject line "Karnow in the Harvard journalism pantheon":
I don't believe you can understand the period [Vietnam and the Sixties] without reading Karnow, Halberstam, and Teddy White basically at same time.Adding Robert Caro is probably needed as well.*Any university course on the early 60's, LBJ, and Vietnam is really quite vacuous without these 4 writers.
He is referring of course to Stanley Karnow, who died over the weekend at age 87 (Library of Congress photo). Here is my favorite part of the NYT obituary:
Early in his career he lived in Paris for a decade, and in 1997 he published a memoir, "Paris in the Fifties." A nostalgic reporter's notebook of life among the cafe philosophers, berated [??]** musicians and pseudo-revolutionary artistes, it danced with digressions about taxes, restaurants, the guillotine, Hemingway, Charles de Gaulle and the Devil's Island penal colony.____
In its range, learning and appetite for fun, Bernard Kalb, the former CBS reporter and Mr. Karnow's friend since Vietnam, told The Associated Press in 2009, the memoir was vintage Karnow. "Stanley has a great line about how being a journalist is like being an adolescent all your life," he said.
* For the record, Theodore White (born 1915), Stanley Karnow (b 1925), and David Halberstam (b 1934) all went to Harvard, though obviously not at the same time. Robert Caro, Halberstam's contemporary, went to Princeton.
** Thanks to reader VM who pointed out that this is probably supposed to be "bereted," as in "wearing a beret."
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James Fallows is a staff writer for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.