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No book about Vietnam has portrayed so powerfully the personal realities of that war as Michael Herr’s Dispatches. Only a writer possessing Herr’s brilliance and daring could have invented a language adequate to the hallucinatory quality of the lives American soldiers led there. These pieces, which caused a sensation when they first appeared in Esquire and New American Review, portray the frightening, grotesque, and absurd aspects of a senseless war as seen from the trenches: under siege at Khe Sanh; strapped into a helicopter as it takes fire from the ground; on patrol with men who signed up again because they couldn’t deal with life back in the World; on R & R and in the field with Sean Flynn, son of Captain Blood; the war-movie fantasies everyone shared; the nightmares that come years after the war is over. Dispatches is unique in its emotional immediacy and unparalleled in its intense depiction of one of the defining collective experiences in postwar American history.
PRAISE FOR Dispatches:
“Nothing else so far has even come close to conveying how different this war was from any we fought—or how utterly different were the methods and the men who fought for us.” —C. D. B. Bryan, The New York Times Book Review
“With uncanny precision [Dispatches] summons up the very essence of [the Vietnam War]—its space diction, its surreal psychology, its bitter humor—the dope, the dexedrine, the body bags, the rot, all of it . . . I believe it may be the best personal journal about war, any war, that any writer has ever accomplished.” —Robert Stone, Chicago Tribune
“The best book I have ever read on men and war in our time.” —John le Carré
“In the great line of Crane, Orwell, and Hemingway . . . Herr reaches an excruciating level of intensity. . . . He seems to have brought to this book the ear of a musician and the eye of a painter. . . . The premier war correspondence of Vietnam.” —The Washington Post