Stanley Karnow, an award-winning author and journalist who combined insightful reporting with personal accounts and historical sweep in books on the
Karnow had congestive heart failure and died in his sleep, said son Michael Karnow.
A former correspondent for Time, the
His coverage of the war spawned an epic
His next book was "In Our Image," which examined the U.S. presence in the Philippines through history's long lens, starting in the late 1800s when Admiral George Dewey defeated the Spanish navy at
His other books included "Mao and
Once described by Vietnam reporter
The son of a machinery salesman and his Hungarian wife, Karnow was born in New York on Feb. 2, 1925. As a teenager he wrote radio plays and edited his high school newspaper. At Harvard, he studied European history and literature and wrote for the Crimson.
During World II he was posted to Asia, where he spent much of his service living in the mountains between China and India as a weather observer, cryptographer and unit historian in the
His marriage to Sarraute ended in divorce in 1955. His second wife, Annette, died of cancer in 2009. He is survived by three children.
Karnow's journalism career began with dispatches to a Connecticut weekly, which led, in 1950, to Time hiring him as a researcher. Promoted to correspondent in1950, he covered strikes, auto racing and the beginning of the French conflict with Algeria, but also interviewed
In 1958 he was assigned by Time to Hong Kong as bureau chief for
The publication of "Vietnam: A History" coincided with a 13-part PBS documentary series, aired in 1983 when the book was released. Decades later, the book has remained essential, read and taught alongside such classics as David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" and Michael Herr's "Dispatches."
"Because he has a sharp eye for the illustrative moment and a keen ear for the telling quote, his book is first-rate as a popular contribution to understanding the war," Douglas Pike, a former U.S. government official in Vietnam who became a leading authority on the war, wrote for the
The PBS series won six Emmys, a Peabody and a Polk and was the highest-rated documentary at the time for public television, with an average of 9.7 million viewers per episode. Along with much praise came criticism from the left and right. Conservatives were so angered by the documentary that PBS agreed to let the right-wing Accuracy in Media air a rebuttal, "Television's Vietnam: The Real Story." But Karnow's appraisal of the war did not change.
"What did we learn from Vietnam?" Karnow later told the Associated Press. "We learned that we shouldn't have been there in the first place."