A.J. Langguth dies at 81; foreign correspondent and historian of wars

Historians in the News
tags: obituary



A.J. (Jack) Langguth, a former foreign correspondent, longtime USC professor and historian of wars whose book on the Vietnam conflict was widely admired for a narrative sweep that gave serious weight to the perspectives of ordinary North Vietnamese and their leaders, died Monday at his Hollywood home. He was 81.

The cause was respiratory failure, said Charles Fleming, a close friend and Times journalist...

...Langguth spent the early years of his career at newspapers in Southern California before he was hired in the early 1960s by the New York Times. In late 1963, he secured a rare interview with the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald soon after Oswald's arrest in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"He was affected deeply by the carnage in Vietnam that he saw," said author and investigative journalist Joe Domanick, who was one of Langguth's graduate students in the early 1980s. "His American history books ... all have a war as a theme."

Unable to set Vietnam aside, Langguth spent seven years researching and writing "Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975" (2000), which won acclaim for telling the Vietnamese side of the story as well as it did the American side, through solid analysis, mastery of detail and deft portraits of pivotal figures, including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem...




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