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4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  11,281 Ratings  ·  731 Reviews
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Written on the front lines in Vietnam, Dispatches became an immediate classic of war reportage when it was published in 1977.

From its terrifying opening pages to its final eloquent words, Dispatches makes us see, in unforgettable and unflinching detail, the chaos and fervor of the war and the surreal insanity of life in that singular combat zo
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 1978 by Avon Books (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 15, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
”Flip religion, it was so far out, you couldn’t blame anybody for believing anything…Guys stuck the ace of spades in their helmet bands, they picked relics off of an enemy they’d killed, a little transfer of power; they carried around five-pound Bibles from home, crosses, St. Christophers, mezuzahs, locks of hair, girlfriends’ underwear, snaps of their families, their wives, their dogs, their cows, their cars, pictures of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton, the Pope, C ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Gene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been in VietNam and having been in some of the Marine Units that Michael Herr writes about in "Dispatches" is the best depiction of war in general and VietNam in particular that I have ever read. It started me on the path to healing that I had kept hidden since I came back from Nam. Thank You Michael.
"Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war."

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do
Jun 29, 2012 orsodimondo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Questo libro contiene tutti i film sul Vietnam che ho visto e che sono stati mai realizzati.

”Full Metal Jacket” di Stanley Kubrick: la scena finale, la cosiddetta marcia di Topolino.

Eppure è stato scritto prima di qualsiasi film sul Vietnam.
Il fatto è che chiunque abbia voluto fare un film sull’argomento ha letto ‘Dispacci’ con attenzione, è partito da queste pagine.
A cominciare da Coppola, che per “Apocalypse Now” lo volle cosceneggiatore
Jun 27, 2007 Chadwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who can stomach it
This is war reportage as heartbreaking poetry. One of the roughest pieces of writing I have ever encountered. Beautiful, angular and harsh stylistically. There is a wonderfully (and terrifyingly) immersive quality to this book.
Feb 03, 2012 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-eller-cellar
I'd never heard Dispatches mentioned in speech or in print until I got a copy of it in a package sent to me from my uncle, who'd died three or four days earlier. Imagine my surprise when I found it was the basis for not only Full Metal Jacket but also, to some degree, Apocalypse Now.

It's more or less what you'd expect: a war correspondent travels all around Vietnam for what seems to be several years (I'm not sure how long Herr was actually there), talking to the foot soldiers and the officers a
Lowell Brower
Mar 27, 2008 Lowell Brower rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-ish-stories
Not only is this the most engrossing piece of journalism, the most touching memoir, and the most illuminating book on war I've ever read; it's also written as if Herr was on fire and being chased by literature-eating wolves. I read it twice in a row and would do it again.
Aug 20, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made me curious about the spectral kingdoms and extinguished dynasties of pre-colonial Vietnam, the spooky historical geography which haunts Herr from under the French place names and American grids. Contemplating an unreal old map in his Saigon apartment, Herr knows “that for years now there had been no country here but the war”:

The terrain above II Corps, where it ran along the Laotian border and into the DMZ, was seldom referred to as the Highlands by Americans. It had been a matter of milita
Apr 04, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
I could say this is one of the best memoirs I've read. I could also say it is one of the most brilliant books on war I've ever read. It would probably be easier, however, for me to just acknowledge I haven't read many books that have the power, the poetry, the intensity, the vividness, the bathos and the pathos that Herr pushes through every single page of this amazing book. This is a book that haunts you hard while you read it and resonates both the horror of war and the surreal qualities of wa ...more
Lisa Lieberman
Aug 31, 2015 Lisa Lieberman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, history
In two weeks I'll be flying to Hong Kong, setting sail for Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia to deliver a series of lectures on a luxury cruise ship. The topic I chose, "Asia Through Hollywood's Eyes," has exposed me to some wonderful films, a number of which I've reviewed on my blog or written about in my column for 3 Quarks Daily. And I've immersed myself in bios of Pearl Buck, Anna Leonowns (the real-life Anna of The King and I), Anna May Wong, Pierre Boulle, Somerset Maugham, along with books ...more
Jun 26, 2007 Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fucking amazing. Supposedly the most famous journalistic account of the war in Vietnam... I wouldn't disagree. Nonfiction, but to me on par with any of O'Brien's work from a storytelling perspective, which is saying a lot. Outpaced the highest of expectations.
Feb 16, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites

"It would seem fitting, ordained, that they should live in the Highlands, among triple canopies, where sudden, contrary mists offered sinister bafflement, where the daily heat and the nighttime cold kept you perpetually, increasingly, on edge, where the silences were interrupted only by the sighing of cattle or the rotor-thud of a helicopter, the one sound I know that is both sharp and dull at the same time. The Puritan belief that Satan dwelt in Nature could have been born here, where even on t
Aug 06, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful book...esp the first half...not just the content, which is raw, but the language and punctuation even that captures brilliantly the maniacal be-bop riot of this heart of darkness ride into the horrid past.... Easy Rider (as, in fact, Sean Flynn quite literally was) comes to Saigon, Khe Sanh, Hue....
Beautifully, vividly, outrageously, grotesquely renderd account of tagging along as a journalist in the peak years of Vietnam. The writing is fierce, hallocinogenic, searing, and very subjective. Herr is an Emersonsian transparent eyeball in this book, recording his impressions and imaginative reactions to the chaos and strange beauty surrounding him everywhere.

Some very interesting characters: Sean Flynn, son of Errol, who does war photography because he wants to truly see the world. Tim Page,
Apr 02, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My hat's off to anyone who can sum up this book in a review. It is beyond anything I've ever read in its portrayal of men at war as witnessed by the war correspondents who accompany them on the front lines. Unlike the embedded journalists of our own time, the writers and photographers who covered Vietnam were much closer to being free agents, restricted only by their ingenuity and fearlessness to seek out the action that would represent the essence of America's military presence in southeast Asi ...more
Aug 11, 2016 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Βαθμολογία: 9/10

Ο Μάικλ Χερ κάλυψε τον πόλεμο του Βιετνάμ σαν ανταποκριτής του περιοδικού Esquire, από κάποια στιγμή μέσα στο 1967, μέχρι το 1969. Έκατσε στο Βιετνάμ δεκαοχτώ ολόκληρους μήνες και είδε τα πάντα. Έδωσε παρών σε μικρές και μεγάλες μάχες, είδε πτώματα στρατιωτών, πεζοναυτών και αμάχων, είδε σοβαρά τραυματισμένους, είδε απίστευτα τοπία κατεστραμμένα από τόννους εμπρηστικών βομβών, είδε διαλυμένες πόλεις και εγκαταλελειμμένα χωριά, γνώρισε ένα κάρο τρελαμένους τύπους, που είτε ήταν τρ
Apr 08, 2017 Saman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book completely high! And I loved it. Well not exactly as much as I loved 'The things they carried', but I loved it. I have no idea if being high had anything to do with how much I enjoyed listening to the guy describe a brutal fire-fight, but it was good anyways. It's amazing that someone can tell a story about death and filth and bullets so beautifully, and at the same time with so much useful detail. Never a dull moment in this book. I loved it!
Oh, and just FYI, the movie 'Full Me
Jan 28, 2009 Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd kind of heard of this, but didn't know its significance and avoided reading about it while reading it. Turns out he later wrote the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, which makes sense because Vietnam film is 100% rooted in the language and stories of this book. I'm conflicted because it tells things as horribly as they were and yet within this book is the seed for the romanticism of the Vietnam war. All those movies and all those people I always felt were enjoying them for ...more
Michal Mironov
Jan 26, 2016 Michal Mironov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very special. I wouldn't recommend it to any newbie as introduction to Vietnam War. It's raw, biased, consisting of handpicked mosaic of worst insanity. Herr doesn't care about analyses, he doesn't go to archives, he even admits that he doesn't give a fuck about politicians, diplomats, or other stakeholders – he can't even speak to them as they use “different language”. Also, the book almost completely avoid topic that mattered the most – ordinary Vietnamese, their faith, struggle, ...more
Pierre Verwey
No matter what I choose as adjectives to describe Dispatches, it could not amount to anything other than diminishing the raw brilliance of Herr's writing to some tired clichè. Dispatches is unlike any book Ive read or anything I could have imagined. It is in a class of its own. It has been claimed as the finest personal account of war ever written. Im not arguing.
Ammara Abid
Oct 21, 2016 Ammara Abid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrible circumstances have been terrifically described.
Jun 22, 2010 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a very good book, that sits up there with any Vietnam story ever told. I think I expected a little more from the book that was the basis for the screenplays of Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, but... When it came down to it, all that was taken from this book for those films were very minor details, short anecdotes and characters. There was so much of the book that was left untouched by Hollywood.

But the stories were good, and Herr's experience was very unique. There were angles on t
Oct 03, 2015 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing about war books is how timeless they are, from Homer to Homs. So it's odd reading a "dated" book about Vietnam to find that it's Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever grunts shoot and get shot at. The blood, the fear, the thrill, the sarcasm, the black humor, the superstition, the body bags, the music, the enemy, the drugs, the killing, the being killed.

The book roars out of the gate with a great opening. The longest section, on Khe Sanh, is classic Vietnam lit. Sometimes it's toug
Jul 30, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Riveting and brilliant account of the chaotic and stressed out world of the soldier in Vietnam as digested by an embedded journalist. From nearly 10 years of hindsight, Herr writes from his experience as a correspondent for Esquire for a one year period from 1967 to 1968, a time of major escalation in the war, including the Tet Offensive and major sieges of Hue and Khe Sahn. The quality of the writing is solid and renders a great balance between the visceral experiences of combat (the terror, me ...more
Barnabas Piper
Nov 22, 2015 Barnabas Piper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a better depiction of war, one that so made me feel it's terror and elation and insanity. Herr portrayed the fruitlessness of Nam and the strength of our every day marines and soldiers masterfully. For these reasons it wasn't an enjoyable book - but it was masterful
Charlie Brown
Aug 20, 2010 Charlie Brown rated it it was amazing
Michael Herr captures the feelings, the violence, and the insanity of the late 1960s. In 1969 I went to college instead of Vietnam and I graduated the year it all came crashing down. A significant portion of my youth was spent trying to understand from journalism what was happening in Southeast Asia; only later would I realize that the understanding I sought was not and could not be available from file-at-five journalism. Herr was accredited to Esquire and was free of that pressure. He explains ...more
Aug 23, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
But of course we were intimate, I'll tell you how intimate: they were my guns, and I let them do it.

I wrote a poem to a coworker last Friday--long story--and in part of it, I tried to tell her how much I admired Dispatches and how deeply I responded to it: I said that the book itself felt like poetry, that it had that kind of density of insight. With any other form of journalism, this level of beauty would be condensation that fogged up the glass and made it harder to see the subjects, but wit
Jun 30, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dude can write!!! The first full chapter, “Breathing In”, is a breathless masterpiece putting you right in the swirling mess of it, reaching out to all aspects of the war and pulling them in as it sucks you in with it. But this is not all. In “Khe Sanh” Herr changes pace for a slower, more sparsely populated narrative, which despite the lower octave does not let up in intensity or observation, and finally breaks out of the surrounded marine base and shifts to a series of grimly funny scenes with ...more
Dec 06, 2016 Rafał rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper
Bardzo dobra rzecz o tym, co znaczyło być w Wietnamie. Trochę tripowa, bardzo z wewnątrz, spomiędzy tych wszystkich piechociarzy i marinesów, skąpana w dymie trawy i riffach Hendrixa i całej reszty muzyków tamtych lat. Specyficzna, bo nie za bardzo wyniesiesz z niej poczucie, co tam właściwie Amerykanie robili i po co - ale to właśnie o to chodzi. Najlepsza w jakichś scenkach, obrazach, impresjach, które potem zostają gdzieś pod korą. Tym bardziej sprzyjająca zanurzeniu, że pochłania swoim język ...more
Steve Kettmann
Sometimes it's not a bad thing to wait to read a book. I started having people urge me to read this one in, let's see, the summer of 1983, and it was only recently that I finally got around to it. I picked up a copy at the former Hanoi Hilton, where John McCain was held prisoner, now a museum, and read the first half on my way from Hanoi to Danang to Saigon (OK, Ho Chi Minh City). There is a fierce originality and honesty to the book, coupled with such intense subject matter, that made reading t ...more
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SSG: Spy/Spec-Ops...: the Nam thread 16 16 Nov 07, 2016 01:19PM  
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All About Books: Week 9 (1977) Dispatches by Michael Herr 4 68 Apr 02, 2016 03:01AM  
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Writer and former war correspondent, best known as the author of Dispatches (1977), a memoir of his time as a correspondent for Esquire magazine (1967–1969) during the Vietnam War. The book was called the best "to have been written about the Vietnam War" by The New York Times Book Review; novelist John le Carré called it "the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time." Herr later was c
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“I keep thinking about all the kids who got wiped out by seventeen years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good. You don’t know what a media freak is until you’ve seen the way a few of those grunts would run around during a fight when they knew that there was a television crew nearby; they were actually making war movies in their heads, doing little guts-and-glory Leatherneck tap dances under fire, getting their pimples shot off for the networks. They were insane, but the war hadn’t done that to them. Most combat troops stopped thinking of the war as an adventure after their first few firefights, but there were always the ones who couldn’t let that go, these few who were up there doing numbers for the cameras… We’d all seen too many movies, stayed too long in Television City, years of media glut had made certain connections difficult.” 12 likes
“How many times did someone have to run in front of a machine gun before it became an act of cowardice?” 9 likes
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