Home US Neil Sheehan Dies at 84; Times Reporter Obtained the Pentagon Papers

Neil Sheehan Dies at 84; Times Reporter Obtained the Pentagon Papers

Neil Sheehan Dies at 84; Times Reporter Obtained the Pentagon Papers

The following 12 months, Mr. Sheehan took a guide depart from The Instances after attending the funeral of John Paul Vann, a charismatic, idealistic former Military officer and outspoken dissenter on the warfare, whom Mr. Sheehan had recognized in Vietnam. He got down to write the historical past of the warfare via the determine of Mr. Vann, who appeared to Mr. Sheehan to embody the qualities that People admired in themselves, and to personify the American enterprise. He anticipated the guide to take three to 5 years.

However he misplaced greater than a 12 months recovering from a head-on collision with a automotive {that a} younger man was driving on the mistaken facet of a highway. Mr. Sheehan repeatedly ran out of cash. His topics, humanity and warfare, proved extra difficult than even he had recognized.

Disciplined and nocturnal, he labored usually till 4 a.m. Impressed by Truman Capote’s “In Chilly Blood,” he labored to present his guide — a mix of historical past and biography — the narrative drive of a novel. “It was a grim enterprise,” he mentioned. He was, he mentioned later, much less obsessed than trapped.

The guide ended up 861 pages lengthy.

Cornelius Mahoney Sheehan was born on Oct. 27, 1936, in Holyoke, Mass., a son of Irish immigrants. His father, Cornelius Joseph Sheehan, was a dairy farmer, and his mom, Mary (O’Shea) Sheehan, was a homemaker.

Neil (his nickname from the time he was born) grew up on his household’s dairy farm outdoors Holyoke, attending Mass together with his two brothers each Sunday at his mom’s insistence. He obtained full scholarships to each the Mount Hermon prep faculty in Massachusetts and Harvard, the place he studied Center Japanese historical past and graduated in 1958.

He then joined the Military, turning into a journalist to get out of a job as a pay clerk in Korea. Transferred to Tokyo to place out the division newspaper, he moonlighted for United Press Worldwide, which employed him in 1962 and despatched him to Saigon as a reporter, two weeks out of the Military, for $75 every week.

He was one of many youngest and least skilled of a bunch of celebrated correspondents that included David Halberstam of The Instances, who grew to become his collaborator and good friend. In 1964, The Instances employed Mr. Sheehan and despatched him again to Vietnam. Impassioned and haunted, he had what his spouse later known as “a quasi-religious streak.” By 1966, he wrote, the ethical superiority that america had possessed after World Conflict II had “given strategy to the amorality of nice energy politics.”


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