Writer won Pulitzer for Vietnam War reporting

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist David Halberstam was killed in a car crash Monday in Menlo Park. He was 73.

Halberstam, a New Yorker who chronicled the Washington press corps, the Vietnam War generation and baseball, was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle near the Dumbarton Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Halberstam was being driven by a graduate journalism student from UC Berkeley, which had hosted a speech by the author on Saturday night about the craft of journalism and what it means to turn reporting into a work of history.

Three others were injured in the crash.

Born in New York, he attended Harvard College, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Crimson newspaper.

After graduating in 1955, Halberstam launched his career at the Daily Times Leader, a small paper in West Point, Miss. He went on to the Tennessean, in Nashville, where he covered the civil rights struggle, and then the New York Times, which sent him to Vietnam in 1962 to cover the growing crisis there.

In 1964, at age 30, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam. He later said he initially supported the U.S. action there but became disillusioned.

“He was a brilliant journalist who set the standard during the war in Vietnam for courageous and accurate reporting,” said Sen. John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who also knew Halberstam from Nantucket, where both had vacation homes. “He was wonderful company, and I always learned something when I talked with him. I’m very sad to hear we’ve lost him.”

He quit daily journalism in 1967 to concentrate on writing books. His 21 books include “The Best and the Brightest,” about John F. Kennedy’s decisions about the Vietnam War; “The Powers That Be,” about men who ran the American media; “The Children,” about the early days of the civil rights movement; “The Fifties,” which was made into a TV docu series; as well as books on baseball and basketball. His 2002 bestseller “War in a Time of Peace” was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction.

He often appeared as an interview subject on shows such as “American Masters” and “ESPN Sports Century.”

At the time of his death, he was working on a book about the Korean war.

In 1980, an escaped convict murdered his brother, Michael.

He is survived by his wife, Jean.

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