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4.23  ·  Rating details ·  16,163 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews
Veľdielo vojnovej reportáže od spoluautora legendárnych hollywoodskych filmov Apokalypsa Francisa Forda Coppolu a Olovená vesta Stanleyho Kubricka. Nikto nikdy neopísal vietnamskú vojnu – ale vlastne ani vojnu všeobecne – tak, ako americký reportér Michael Herr.
Medzi rokmi 1967 a 1969 pracoval Michael Herr ako vojnový korešpondent časopisu Esquire. Žil s vojakmi na fronte,
Paperback, 264 pages
Published 2019 by Absynt (first published 1977)
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Richard Ong I've not read the book so I can't judge its difficulty for a non-English speaker. Slang must surely always be confusing and there's a fair amount in t…moreI've not read the book so I can't judge its difficulty for a non-English speaker. Slang must surely always be confusing and there's a fair amount in this one paragraph!

"Lurp" is the pronunciation of the abbreviation, LRRP, or Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol. Such patrols involved small numbers of troops who operated far from their own troops and any kind of immediate support (artillery or friendly reinforcements). Obviously, their survival and effectiveness depended on undetected movement. I respect those men for the danger they faced.

"Downs" (also known as "downers") refers to pills that supposedly calm one, and "ups" (or "uppers") to a drug such as methamphetamine. I don't understand the connection between a "downer" drug and cutting a trail through the forest, jungle, etc. It makes no sense to me.

Obviously the function of the "upper" is to act as pharmaceutical courage to help one muster the will to proceed down a trail with the potential to have an ambush waiting for the unwary or unlucky.

A "tiger suit" would refer to a type of camouflaged utility/field uniform worn by some American troops. It was green with dark black stripes, hence "tiger." They were also referred to as "tiger stripes."

Most American infantry work the standard jungle fatigues (work uniform) with no camouflage pattern. The more "individualistic" or irregular troops wore what they wanted.

I intend to obtain this book for myself. If you are interested in the war -- and just an amazing book about Americans in Vietnam -- I highly recommend a book called "Chickenhawks"!!!!!(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 15, 2013 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
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnamese, war
War is Forever

Evil is not an absence of the good as proposed by theologians. It is a positive force precisely proportionate to the coercive technological power employed. Power kills people; people don’t kill people; technology does. War is unlimited power; or power limited only by the technology available but certainly not by morality, that is to say, people. Herr saw this at close quarters: “Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.” No one who had power unde
Jan 06, 2008 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 27, 2007 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.
Apr 04, 2012 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

"Where had he been to get his language?" is a question Herr asks himself in passing about a soldier he meets, but I think it's the implication in the question that explains why this is one of my favorite books. There are more informative books about Vietnam, speaking in traditional historical terms, but it's the language in this book that has stayed with me- I can open it up, turn to just about any page, and the store of English, with its almost limitless possibility and nuance, feels (very temp
LA Brower
Mar 27, 2008 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.
Feb 03, 2012 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
Lisa Lieberman
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, classics
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
Julie Ehlers
"I went there behind the crude but serious belief that you had to be able to look at anything, serious because I acted on it and went, crude because 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."

What a book. The first section, "Breathing In," is one of the most astounding things I've ever read. Relentless, harsh, lyrical, and filled with more insights than some writers achieve in an entire lifetime. I marveled
Aug 20, 2010 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
In 1969 I was a kid oblivious to all the clues of the Vietnam War around me ... the Sunday picnic trips to Fort Knox where my uncle was training and from where he'd eventually be sent to serve in Southeast Asia, driving trucks in an out of the hot zones, constantly sniped at, but surviving to return a somewhat angry man. I remember trips to the George Patton Museum there, where large paintings of Air Cav choppers graced the upper walls dramatically with slogans like "winning the war with air pow ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, worst
the writing is glib, self-important and embarrassing in that desperate-to-be-cool kind of way, which gets in the way of what is ostensibly the *actual* subject - the vietnam war. instead, it seems that the vietnam war was merely a canvas for the real subject of the book, his own writing, which is unfortunately completely insufferable.

"Dexedrine breath like dead snakes kept too long in a jar." gtfo. worst.
Jun 26, 2007 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.
Jun 30, 2014 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
Apr 02, 2012 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 06, 2013 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,
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, asia, 1970s, war
For many years, the book most likely to come to mind when Vietnam was mentioned.
One of those 'I appreciate having read this, but once was enough.'
Five star strength and associations.
Many reviews to like, too.
Oct 03, 2015 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
Michal Mironov
Jan 26, 2016 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
[2.5 stars] I don't doubt that Dispatches is a Great War Book. The fault is with me. I'm not a good non-fiction war book reader. All the battles and shooting and carnage that Herr reports on made me feel numb.

Interestingly, two of my all-time favorite works of fiction are about war: The Things They Carried (Vietnam) and Redeployment (Iraq/Afghanistan). Both of these powerful books brought me much closer to understanding the experience of war than Dispatches did.
Jun 22, 2010 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
Jan 28, 2009 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
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.
J. Kent Messum
Michael Herr's account from the front during the Vietnam War is regarded as one of the most important books to come out of that war, or any war for that matter. It's a revelatory read, not only because of the raw true stories, but also because of the unique perspective offered by a journalist embedded in the fray. Most war stories are told by soldiers or officers who have been there. Sometimes they're told by the civilians being invaded or finding themselves in the crossfire. But a journalist is ...more
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
What kind of mad man voluntarily goes in theater during a vicious war? Dumbfounded soldiers and marines often asked this of Michael Herr. As a war correspondent for Esquire, he went not just to the periphery, but into the viscera of 1968 Vietnam. These are war stories in the raw; from Herr himself and from the very servicemen who lived the tales, many of whom had trouble distinguishing between their love of service and contempt for the Vietnam War.

Note: Herr also assisted with two of the most ba
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review, on-blog
This is an important book which shows the reader some truths not only about this part of history but also about human nature. You can be cross about the fictitiousness and an overflow of oniric narration but this does not change the important issues the book brings to light. It is one of those ones which get under your skin and make you think, rethink and recommend it.

Herr said once that most people are not aware they have a dark side.
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Michael Herr was a novelist and war correspondent. Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1940, he began reporting from Vietnam for Esquire in the 1960s, during the height of the war. He later chronicled those experiences in his memoir, Dispatches. He is the author of three other books, The Big Room, Walter Winchell, and Kubrick, and coauthor of the screenplays for Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. He ...more

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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.” 16 likes
“How many times did someone have to run in front of a machine gun before it became an act of cowardice?” 13 likes
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