Michael Herr, the writer famous for authoring the gritty Vietnam War testimonial Dispatches, has died at 76, after a long bout with illness according to Knopf, his former publisher.
While Herr never actually served in the military, he went to Vietnam as a reporter, eventually drawing a very raw, gruesome, and tragic portrait of a war that other veterans at the time were hesitant to talk about. The New York Times Book Review called it the best book “to have ever been written about the Vietnam War.” The book, published in 1977, would serve as inspiration for the films Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and Full Metal Jacket, directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written by Herr.
The book is also still taught in schools not only for its exemplary depiction of the Vietnam War, but also its place in the New Journalism movement. Other notable authors of the literary style include Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Hunter S. Thompson, among others.
He did not write much afterward, until 1990, when he published Walter Winchell, about the notorious gossip columnist. Ten years later, he released Kubrick, a book adapted from two Vanity Fair articles he’d written about Stanley Kubrick, to whom Herr had grown very close.
He is survived by his wife, Valerie Herr.
Watch Herr speak about his time in Vietnam below: