Michael Herr, the journalist and author best known for his Dispatches , his 1977 stylized book of Vietnam War reporting, died June 23 at age 76. Herr went to the war zone to write a series of articles for Esquire magazine in 1967. His reporting for Esquire and in the book mixed fact and fiction in the “new journalism” style of the day (think Hunter S. Thompson). Nevertheless, Herr’s book starkly conveyed what the war was like for those Americans in the trenches.
His other Vietnam War-related work included helping director Stanley Kubrick with the screenplay of his epic movie, Full Metal Jacket , which was based on former Marine Gustav Hasford ‘s novel, The Short-Timers . Herr “absolutely got it right with ‘Full Metal Jacket, ‘” said the actor Lee Ermey who starred in the film as the drill instructor from hell and also acted as Kubrick’s military technical adviser (among other things, Ermey basically wrote the DI’s over-the-top brilliant dialogue). “As technical adviser, ” Ermey said. “I really didn’t have to fix much.”
Herr “was as a man who had great respect for the Corps, ” Ermey said. “And, over 30 years later, his screenplay still lives on as an iconic classic. He will be missed. Semper Fi, Michael. Rest in peace.”