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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Dispatches (1977) by Michael Herr


Book Review
Dispatches (1977)
by Michael Herr


  It turns out that Dispatches is the book from which every single Vietnam era cliche is derived.   Considering the extent to which the Vietnam experience has been depicted in popular film over the last several decades, it's surprising that such a rich source of material would have escaped any mention, but the fact that this copy of Dispatches is an Everyman's Library edition demonstrates that Dispatches is, in fact, a classic.

  Dispatches is most unusual in that it is one of the only non-fiction title on the list.  Most of the titles that appear on the list as "non fiction" are war memoirs, and perhaps that can be chalked up to the importance of the battle field experience in the western imagination, and the difficulty about describing the experience without first hand knowledge.

  You can't call Dispatches cliche because I'm sure that when Herr was writing none of the cliches about Vietnam had crystallized.  Still, you can't beat Dispatches for really nailing down the Vietnam War experience in 250 pages of crisp, clean, professional prose (Herr was a journalist.)

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