Wednesday, August 29, 2007

With a Little Help from His Friends




David Halberstam was putting the finishing touches on his final book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, when he died in a San Francisco car accident last April. That book is going to be in bookstores on September 25 and, with a little help from Halberstam's friends, his last book is going on a national book tour. Yesterday's New York Times offers the details.




The command post is a set of Manhattan publishing offices, and the foot soldiers include Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Bob Woodward, Anna Quindlen, Alex Kotlowitz, Paul Hendrickson, Samantha Power and Bill Walton. They are going on David Halberstam’s book tour for him.
...
The unusual promotional push will stretch from New York to La Jolla, Calif., Washington to Chicago, Milwaukee to Nashville.

At each engagement Mr. Halberstam’s “surrogates,” as Mr. Woodward calls them, will pay tribute to him, a best-selling author of books like “The Best and the Brightest” and “Summer of ’49,” by offering personal reminiscences and readings. It took Mr. Halberstam 10 years to do the reporting and to write the book, which he called, in a term familiar to librarians and football fans, a “bookend” to his Pulitzer Prize-winning work on Vietnam.
...
The idea for the tour was Hyperion’s, said Mr. Halberstam’s widow, Jean. “Then someone reminded me that when Tony Lukas died just after ‘Big Trouble’ came out, David organized a number of writers to represent it in bookstores in the Boston area,” she said. “David’s friends, who are writers, are well aware that getting attention for a book is hard, no matter how well your last one did. They said, ‘Whatever I can do — I’ll fly to wherever.’ He would have felt amazed and humbled, and that’s not necessarily a word used to describe him.”
David Halberstam was a fine writer. I particularly enjoyed his books on baseball history but I found all of his non-fiction and history books to be some of the most accessible that I've ever read. This book tour is a wonderful tribute to a man who seems to have been loved and respected by his fellow writers.

7 comments:

  1. I agree, this is a wonderful tribute to David Halbershtam. That so many people are willing to give their time and efforts to the tour is a remarkable testament to the man and to his writing.

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  2. Absolutely wonderful...thanks for letting us know about this!

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  3. I don't think I've even heard of him before, but now he's on my TBR list!

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  4. I remember his book on the 1950s well. This gesture can only make me think he must have been an impressive friend and colleague - it certainly puts a great spin on the tour and makes me all the more interested to go. I wonder who's got New York!

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  5. I'm definitely interested in the new book, for obvious reasons. I've been dipping in and out of Summer of '49, loving every word and reading and discussing passages with my husband. Yes, the book tour is a wonderful tribute!

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  6. What a wonderful story! I've never read any of his books, but what good friends he has.

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  7. I agree with all of you that this is a wonderful tribute to the man. He must have been greatly loved by his friends for so many of them to take the time and effort to do this for him.

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