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David Halberstam

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm in the middle of reading "The Fifties" right now - I come back to every so often, because it's that kind of book, with self-contained chapters. It's a terrific journey through a sometimes forgotten decade.

    Anyway, saw this about "The Best and the Brightest" on Time's list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time:

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2088856_2089143_2089221,00.html

    What jumped out at me is the line that Halberstam would not shake hands with generals, because he, I'm guessing, wanted to keep that line between reporter and subject very clear. Kind of puts some of the debates on here about whether to call a coach "Coach" or not into perspective. Also makes me wonder if Halberstam treated his sports subjects the same way, since he does seem to write with a bit of reverence on occasion for a Ted Williams or a Bob Gibson.

    Did anyone know Halberstam? Or more about his journalism and reporting style? I'd love to know more.
     
  2. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    I met him once. I wanted to tell him that his chapter about sportswriters in "Summer of '49" made journalism sound like fun and made it sound like something I'd want to go into. My friend said, "Don't tell him you went into journalism because of him. He's an old man. He doesn't need that on his conscience."
     
  3. I can't speak to Halberstam's method, because the Q&A session he had for a bunch of youngish journos was too long ago. Your suggestion sounds plausible, though.

    One of my all-time favorite sports books was Summer of '49, chronicling one of the great Yankees-Red Sox pennant races. I can also recommend The Breaks of the Game, when he spent the season with the Portland Trail Blazers (1979-80) and introduced us to a wunderkind Moses Malone. An oft-overlooked work is The Amateurs, about the 1984 U.S. Olympic rowing trials. His ability to get inside an athlete's head was amazing.

    My favorite Halberstam story was that he would buy basketball nets to hang on those empty schoolyard rims we often see. He did it because he liked to hear his jump shot swish. Now that's a guy who gets it.
     
  4. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Active Member

    The Power That Be is also one of the all-time great journalism reads.

    That said, wasn't Summer of '49 filled with errors? I recall reading that Bill James titled his review: "Summer of '49-Or Was that '50/Wait a Minute, I'm almost sure that was '37/And I think maybe that was Vince DiMaggio."

    Also, Halberstam's book on Belichick-his vacation-house neighbor-was a bit fawning.
     
  5. Glenn Stout

    Glenn Stout Member

    I was fortunate enough to work with him directly on a few projects and provide a little research help on a few others, and I'll say this - no one else I've ever intersected with in this business has approached his zeal or work ethic as a reporter. And he was the first - and one of the very few - so called "names" I've ever encountered who was secure enough to treat others with respect and as an equal from the start. I found him both generous and authentic - he helped out a vast number of younger writers. And he was a far better stylist than he is usually given credit for.
     
  6. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    The Teammates. Maybe the best book I've read. And I just re-read Firehouse. Dude was quite good.
     
  7. ringer

    ringer Member

    Halberstam lived on my block in NYC and every morning, I would see him walking his exuberant little terrier. (It was hard to miss the huge man with little dog). Frank Deford lived on the other end of the block, and the two were friends. Here's a short piece Deford wrote just after Halberstam died. It might give you a tiny bit of the insight you were seeking:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/web/COM1061466/index.htm

    Regrettably, I never said anything to Halberstam... although I did speak to Deford. (another class act, btw)
     
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Well Belichick was not a General.

    You are referring to "The Education of A Coach"

    Actually a very enjoyable read.
     
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link. I think it's kind of cool that DeFord, who was his friend, confirmed something along the lines of what I suspected about the different ways he approached politics and sports.

    I think David Maraniss would be the Halberstam of our time, the way he dabbles in and excels at both.
     
  10. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Read Firehouse recently. Great, great book. Loved his book on the Korean War. I have Teammates, but I haven't read it yet. I'm moving it up my list.
     
  11. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    I guess the idea of not shaking a general's hand as a journalist is sort of OK, to each his own and I'm certainly in no place as a writer to judge. As an American.....it sort of bothers me. Is that wrong? They're generals, they deserve respect and I think a simple handshake is more a gesture of mutual respect than one of power or agreeing to wrote fluff. I feel like I must be missing something.
     
  12. Glenn Stout

    Glenn Stout Member

    A little more, just because:

    http://indiepro.com/glenn/index.php/introdcution-from-everything-they-had-sports-writing-from-david-halberstam/

    http://indiepro.com/glenn/index.php/forewords-from-the-best-american-sports-writing/
     
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