Sporty Sentences

David Halberstam was one of the great journalists of our era. He covered civil rights in its early days, in Nashville, Tenn., while still in his 20s. He covered Vietnam right after that, also in its early days, for The New York Times.Unlike today's embedded shills, Halberstam stood up to power being misused and became famous in the process. His articles from Saigon gave the lie to body counts and the "surges" of those bygone days. He won a Pulitzer Prize for work often composed literally under the gun.His first few books were novels and short biographies (of Bobby Kennedy and Ho), but he burst into the general public's consciousness with "The Best and the Brightest," a deep delve into how America's leadership in those days-McNamara, Rusk, the Kennedys et all, got us into Vietnam and then couldn't get us out. He also wrote, "The Powers That Be," a combined historical biography of the Washington Post, The LA Times and CBS News. His take on the rising power of modern media was fascinating, even to his many readers who were not journalists or entertainers masquerading as journalists.My favorite Halberstam history is called simply, "The Fifties" and features capsule biographies of everyone from Gen. Douglas McArthur to Sen. Joe McCarthy. And The Beats.His major histories were major efforts, stretching to 500 or 600 pages, and taking five or six years to finish. In between epics, Halberstam began writing some of the best sports journalism ever done in the United States His book about the late '70s Portland Trailblazers, "The Breaks of the Game," has never been bettered by NBA scribes. His baseball histories, including "The Summer of '49" about the pennant race between Ted Williams' Red Sox and Joe DiMaggio's Yankees, are wonderful reads.Halberstam was working on a book about the first NFL Championship game to capture the American public's attention, the 1958 title between the Baltimore Colts, featuring Johnny Unitas, and Frank Gifford's New York Giants, when he was killed in a car crash on April, 23, 2007."Everything They Had," is a collection of his shorter sports pieces, which he published over a 50-year span in Sports Illustrated, at, and many other venues. Halberstam loved baseball, football and basketball, and was also an avid fisherman. "Everything They Had" is full of five and six-page gems of sports reporting, and some wonderful capsule biographies, too. The famous-Ted Williams, Ali and Jackie Robinson-are all here, but so are some lesser known sporting lights like Tommy Kearns-read the book to find out who he is. "Everything They Had" is a great treat for sports fans but it will work almost as well for fans of clear, witty, sharp writing. Halberstam was of his time and understood it well.[[In-content Ad]]