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Michael Herr (1940 - 2016)

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Michael Herr (1940 - 2016)

Michael Herr, whose reports from the front lines of the Vietnam War for a magazine were turned into his acclaimed nonfiction novel “Dispatches,” died June 23, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 76.

“Dispatches” was widely heralded after it was published in 1977. It “became an immediate classic of war reportage,” wrote the Everyman’s Library book publishing company in an April 16 post on Facebook. Everyman’s Library reprinted “Dispatches” in 2009 as a contemporary classic. “From its terrifying opening pages to its final eloquent words, ‘Dispatches’ makes us see, in unforgettable and unflinching detail, the chaos and fervor of the war and the surreal insanity of life in that singular combat zone.”

The novelist John le Carré praised “Dispatches,” calling it “the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time.”

The book was touted as an example of New Journalism. Other writers of that genre included Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Gay Talese, and Tom Wolfe.


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Herr was born April 13, 1940, in Syracuse, New York. He served as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine from 1967 to 1969. After publishing “Dispatches,” he went on to help write the narrative parts for director Francis Ford Coppola’s war film “Apocalypse Now” (1979). He teamed up with director Stanley Kubrick and fellow author Gustav Hasford to write the screenplay for another war film, “Full Metal Jacket” (1987). Their screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award.

Herr is survived by his wife, Valerie Herr.

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