Cold winters, hot jaguars and a night to remember

David Halberstam in 1978
David Halberstam in 1978 Wikimedia Commons

David Halberstam wrote 21 books, including The Best and the Brightest, about the Vietnam War, and The Powers That Be, about the news media. But the author told friends he thought his latest, The Coldest Winter, about the Korean War, was his best ever. Sadly, it would also be his last. Halberstam was killed in April, at age 73, in an automobile accident in Menlo Park, California. Our excerpt ("Command Performance," p. 56) from the new book is about Gen. Matthew Ridgway, the no-nonsense Army commander credited with turning a tactical retreat into a counterattack that eventually drove masses of Chinese troops back across the 38th parallel and out of South Korea. It is classic Halberstam: authoritative, insightful, sweeping in its conclusions—and surprisingly resonant.

Whether at The New Republic, where he was managing editor, or at Fortune, where he was a staff writer, Jeremy Kahn has long been interested in unintended consequences—especially those resulting from government policies. So the question of how heightened security at the United States-Mexico border might affect wildlife—in particular the jaguars recently documented in the United States—set him in motion (see "On the Prowl," p. 84): "As you get close to the border, you start seeing more and more Border Patrol and National Guard, and there's quite a lot of military and paramilitary activity, which I wasn't expecting." As for the jaguars, Kahn hopes there are more of them in the United States than the four or five photographed in the past decade. "I think for people who know about the jaguar, it does symbolize all that is still wild about the West."

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