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Hell Sucks by Michael Herr - Esquire

Hell Sucks (page 66) was sent to Esquire from Vietnam by Syracuse University graduate, erstwhile movie reviewer for The New Leader, and magazine writer Mike Herr, and it was written partly in an effort to convince Esquire that we should publish a regular column from Vietnam.

Shortly after Mr. Herr mailed it to us, he sent along the following notes.

There is something compulsive, obsessive, working here; I have all of this time in now, all of the experience, a terrifying feel for the war, which Im hip to, and I must not let any of it be wasted. There are two Vietnams, the one that Im up to my ass in here and the one perceived in the States by people who have never been here. They are mutually exclusive.

I cant imagine how greatly things have changed back there in the past five weeks, after President Johnsons speech and Reverend Kings death and the peace scares. Except for Joe Alsop, I know no one here who really believes that this war is going to end easily. I think the very worst of it is just beginning, and I think, regardless of how most Americans feel, that it is a more important subject than ever. I want to stay for a few more months, no more, and continue with the kind of stuff Ive just mailed. The idea of doing conventional features is not exciting, and the idea of working for some outfits is appalling….

It is incredibly expensive here. I have colleagues in the press corps here, some of them incredible fakes, fantastic hacks, who live so well on their expense accounts that they may never be able to adjust to peace. They have $600-a-month digs at the Continental or the Caravelle, and every five weeks they go off on R&Rs paid for by their outfits, off to Hong Kong or Taipei or Bangkok. This is bad for my morale, especially bad considering that, a small handful aside, they seldom get into the field, attend operations, speak to troops or hang around where there is incoming….

It has been frustrating, dangerous as hell and painful in more ways than I can tell you, and I want out for a bit. (It has been exciting too, but I wont go into that here.)

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