GLADSTONE: Michael Herr was 27 when he covered Vietnam for Esquire in 1967. Ten years later, he published a profound and graphic depiction of the war. 
The grunts were often warm, but sometimes he felt impersonal hatred, as one might hate a parasite…
HERR: They only hated me … the way you’d hate any hopeless fool who would put himself through this thing when he had choices … Any fool who had no more need of his life than to play with it in this way.
Once he overhears a rifleman airing that disgust in vivid terms…
[Press vehicle shown in background.]
RIFLEMAN: Those fucking guys … I hope they die.
But Herr said reporters also feared a different kind of death…
HERR: We all knew that if you stayed too long you became one of those poor bastards who had to have a war on all the time … I didn’t know — it took the war to teach it — that you were as responsible for everything you saw as you were for everything you did. 
GLADSTONE: To well and truly report a war — amidst official lies, commercial pressures, horror, trauma, principles, and patriotism — is to be at war with oneself. Objectivity is essential.
GLADSTONE: Objectivity is impossible. 

— Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, The Influencing Machine (2011)

GLADSTONE: Michael Herr was 27 when he covered Vietnam for Esquire in 1967. Ten years later, he published a profound and graphic depiction of the war. 

The grunts were often warm, but sometimes he felt impersonal hatred, as one might hate a parasite…

HERR: They only hated me … the way you’d hate any hopeless fool who would put himself through this thing when he had choices … Any fool who had no more need of his life than to play with it in this way.

Once he overhears a rifleman airing that disgust in vivid terms…

[Press vehicle shown in background.]

RIFLEMAN: Those fucking guys … I hope they die.

But Herr said reporters also feared a different kind of death…

HERR: We all knew that if you stayed too long you became one of those poor bastards who had to have a war on all the time … I didn’t know — it took the war to teach it — that you were as responsible for everything you saw as you were for everything you did

GLADSTONE: To well and truly report a war — amidst official lies, commercial pressures, horror, trauma, principles, and patriotism — is to be at war with oneself. Objectivity is essential.

GLADSTONE: Objectivity is impossible. 

— Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, The Influencing Machine (2011)

Notes

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    Two Thursday morning recommendations: Brooke’s book and coffee.
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