R.I.P, Michael Herr

I was especially struck by a celebrity obituary this week — that of Michael Herr.

Herr, 76, wrote “Dispatches” in 1977 — a mostly nonfiction accounting of the year he spent covering the Vietnam War as a stringer for Esquire — an assignment that allowed him unfettered access to many different spots in the battlescape. Many people regard it as the best book about the war — indeed, one of the best books written about combat and the people who fight.

I read “Dispatches” in college, at a time when I was trying to learn as much as I could about the war that had transpired mostly in my youth and which affected nearly every aspect of our news, politics and culture. Herr’s book — along with Tim O’Brien’s amazing “The Things They Carried,” helped shape a great deal of my understanding of the world.

I’ve gotten to express my gratitude to O’Brien, who won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize a few years ago, but never had the chance to meet Herr. Alas.

Email me at rrollins@coxohio.com.