Friday, January 19, 2007

A fragment of history, lost, never to be recovered

At a Harvard conference in 1983 David Halberstam told a touching story of the terrible trials he faced as a war correspondent in Vietnam:

During the fall of 1963, i was twenty-eight, and I went to the Mekong Delta with a man named Richard Tregaskis; he had been a hero of mine, who had written a book, Guadalcanal Diary, that i had greatly admired as a boy. We had spent what I thought were an entirely pleasant two days in the Mekong Delta, I had introduced him to treasured sources of mine. On the way back to Saigon, he turned to me and in a very soft voice said to me, "If I were doing what you were doing, I would be ashamed of myself." We traveled the rest of the way in Stony silence; my face, I am sure, was ashen."
Halberstam goes on to write off Tregaskis's remark to that old devil the Generation Gap. Those old reporters just did not understand the complexity and nuances faced by young reporters in Vietnam.

Still, i wish i knew what Richard Tregaskis saw in the Delta that made him think that Halberstam's conduct was shameful.

No comments: