Irene Kuhn and David Halberstam

Wednesday, January 08, 1964

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Host introduces Kuhn.

Kuhn speaks about her experience in Taiwan and the people there; title of speech: "Reporting on Taiwan." Changes that have occurred within the soul of the people. Today everybody is working, including the women. New agriculture, agrarian reform. A story about the Mayor of Hangzhou, who showed the people they could diversify crops. Efficiency in China's agriculture. Taiwan sends agriculture teams, made of professors and few practical farmers, that can make rice grow in desert lands of Africa, set an example for communists who cannot make enough food for their own people. Compulsory education in Taiwan. A story of an American family in Taiwan. Life on the island of Kimoi, including transportation and agriculture. Psychological warfare, propaganda against the US in the form of negative images of President Kennedy and soldiers. Children are taught that their clothes must last 9 years. "I hope we will continue to stand fast and not give up at the moment when we are winning."

Host introduces Halberstam, who is 29 at the time.

Halberstam speech: "Reporting on Vietnam," covers specifically the reporter's experience in Vietnam. Conflicts between US reports reporting on conflict and US reporters reporting on mission. The US's broad-based attempt to buck up the regime in Vietnam. "Cautious optimism": we are winning. Another reporter finds it difficult to reconcile the official optimism with what they were seeing. The military situation wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. He finds it difficult to be optimistic because of what he's seeing there: disturbing trends developing militarily and politically. Press controversy long before the Buddhist controversy. General Wheeler wanted to talk to them about the controversy. His impression is that they were consistent with their goals, to tell the American people the truth, though they couldn't reconcile what they saw with what they heard.

A question-and-answer session follows. Topics include religious persecution in Vietnam; a UN assertion that Buddhist monks and students were not dead, as reported; current status of life in Vietnam; what did Halberstam do on days of Revolution?; US authorities' interference in the press in Vietnam; reunification of North and South Vietnam; the profession. Questions are difficult to hear.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70306
Municipal archives id: T270


David Halberstam and Irene Kuhn


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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