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Michael Herr (born April 13, 1940 in Syracuse, New York) is an American writer and former war correspondent, best known as the author of Dispatches (1977), a memoir of his time as a correspondent for Esquire magazine (1967–1969) during the Vietnam War. The book was called the best "to have been written about the Vietnam War" by The New York Times Book Review; novelist John le Carré called it "the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time." Herr later was credited with pioneering[dubious ] the literary genre of the nonfiction novel, along with authors such as Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Tom Wolfe.
From 1971 to 1975 he published nothing. Then, in 1977, he went on the road with rock & roller Ted Nugent and wrote about the experience in a 1978 cover story for Crawdaddy magazine. Also in 1977, he published Dispatches, upon which his reputation mostly rests.
Herr contributed to the narration for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979). He co-wrote the screenplay for the film Full Metal Jacket (1987) with director Stanley Kubrick and author Gustav Hasford. That film was based on Hasford's novel The Short-Timers and the screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Herr collaborated with Richard Stanley in writing the original screenplay for the 1996 adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. However, Stanley claims the subsequent rewrites cost Herr his writing credit, omitting most of the material created by the two writers. The omission probably worked to his favor, however, since the movie was panned by critics and earned credited writers Stanley and Ron Hutchinson a Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay of 1997.
Herr wrote a pair of articles for Vanity Fair about Stanley Kubrick, which were later incorporated into the small book – Kubrick (2000) – a very personal biography of the director. He declined to edit the script of Kubrick's last film Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
- Dispatches (1977) ISBN 0-679-73525-9
- The Big Room: Forty-Eight Portraits from the Golden Age (1987) (with Guy Peellaert) ISBN 0-671-63028-8 (stories about Hollywood personalities including Judy Garland, Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Walter Winchell)
- Walter Winchell: A Novel (1990) ISBN 0-679-73393-0 (biographical novel about the newsman Walter Winchell)
- Kubrick (Grove, 2000) ISBN 0-8021-3818-7 (based on essay for Vanity Fair)
- Heath Anthology of American Literature bio page
- Michael Herr at the Internet Movie Database
- Bio at The Oscar Site
- A draft of The Island of Dr Moreau screenplay, dated April 26th, 1994
- on YouTube. Scene taken from the documentary First Kill about Herr's book Dispatches.
- on YouTube: Why he went to Vietnam as a war reporter
- Article about Herr in Columbia Journalism Review