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Friday, July 20, 2007

Halberstam's last despatch

David Halberstam, who died in April, was America's most popular historian, the king of those slab-like ruminations on America's place in the world that they go in for over there. He made his name with his reporting from Vietnam (left). His death in a road accident was made even more tragic by the fact that he was being driven by a journalism student who was one of his biggest admirers. His last piece appears in the latest Vanity Fair. It's an attack upon the Bush cabinets hijacking of historical parallels and contains many fine lines. Here's my favourite:
Cheney still speaks of Vietnam as a noble rather than a tragic endeavor, not that he felt at the time—with his five military deferments—that he needed to be part of that nobility.