Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five best books about reporting

Harold Evans is The Week’s editor-at-large and author of The American Century. His autobiography, My Paper Chase, is new in bookstores.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books about reporting. One title on the list:
A Bright Shining Lie
by Neil Sheehan
Random House, 1988

This Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a sophisticated yet spellbinding mix of history and biography: the story of the Vietnam War seen from the perspective of a military hero. John Paul Vann, who had fought in Korea, arrived in Saigon in 1962 as a U.S. military adviser to the South Vietnamese army. Soon perceiving that the war was being badly prosecuted, he developed ideas for countering guerrilla warfare, including the use of small-unit strikes instead of massive amounts of firepower and personnel. Vann dared to question the received wisdom, though, and suffered as a result—just as pilot Col. Billy Mitchell's career was wrecked during the 1920s in part by his insistent warnings that the Japanese might bomb Pearl Harbor. Neil Sheehan, who had been a correspondent in Vietnam, took 16 years to write his 800 pages, but the narrative moves fast, impelled by a passion for authenticity and truth.
Learn about the other books on Evans' list.

Read about Evans' six favorite­ bio­graphies and memoirs.

--Marshal Zeringue