When the other members of his Harvard graduating class were taking jobs in New York and Washington, David Halberstam headed for the small town of West Point, Mississippi to work on a little daily newspaper. It was 1955, and the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education had triggered a landmark struggle in the American South between African Americans determined to gain the rights promised them in the Constitution and an old order determined to resist. Halberstam wanted to be a reporter, so he went where the story was.
In the decades that followed, Halberstam continued to follow the story, from Nashville to the Congo to Vietnam. His reporting from Saigon in the early '60s contradicted the official story from Washington, but Halberstam saw the truth on the front lines, and reported the story he had seen with his own eyes. At 30, he received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. His account of America's gradual descent into the quagmire, The Best and the Brightest, was the first of more than a dozen national best-sellers Halberstam wrote on the events of our time, from the drama of professional sports to the impact of the 2001 terrorist attacks on one New York fire station.
For half a century, David Halberstam set an example of courage and steadfastness in getting his story, and he told his stories with the color and narrative drive of a great novelist, bringing history to life for the legion of readers who continued to devour his books, year after year.