DISPATCHES is considered by many to be one of the finest nonfiction books on the Vietnam War. Assigned in 1967 to cover the war by Esquire magazine, Michael Herr filed reports on his own schedule and without deadlines. His memoir, DISPATCHES, was published several years later and is based on those reports for Esquire. In a candid and non-judgmental manner, Herr captured the voices of young American soldiers, or grunts, as they spoke of the horrors of battle: their ever-present fear, and what it was like to kill gooks, take human souvenirs, and sometimes realize that they had fired on women and children. Herr's details later became standard Vietnam war associations: the body bags, the helmets with individualized slogans on them, large amounts of drugs, and even music from the likes of the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Cash. Events covered include the aftermath of the battle of Hue, the Tet offensive of 1968, and the assaults on the Marine base at Khe Sanh, a battle which was seen by many as a sign that winning the war might not be possible. Herr illustrates the daily realities and surreal experiences of the soldiers in the trenches, the growing unease among Americans back home, and the gulf between what the generals saw and what they said. In addition, he includes war stories from his colleagues in the press corps, both reporters and photographers, some of whom were killed in action. Herr is also known for writing the narration on Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film APOCALYPSE NOW, and for working as a producer and writer on Stanley Kubrick's 1985 film FULL-METAL JACKET.
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