Stanley Karnow, 87, wrote book on Vietnam War

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Stanley Karnow, the award-winning author and journalist who wrote a definitive book about the Vietnam War, worked on an accompanying documentary and later won a Pulitzer Prize for a history of the Philippines, died Sunday. He was 87.

Karnow, who had congestive heart failure, died in his sleep at his home in Potomac, Md., said son Michael Karnow.

A Paris-based correspondent for Time magazine early in his career, Karnow was assigned in 1958 to Hong Kong as bureau chief for Southeast Asia. He went to Vietnam, when the American presence was only a small core of advisers. In 1959, Karnow reported on the first two American deaths there, not suspecting that tens of thousands would follow.

Into the 1970s, Karnow covered the war off and on for Time, The Washington Post and other publications. He later drew upon his experience for an epic PBS documentary and for the million-selling "Vietnam: A History," published in 1983 and widely regarded as an essential, evenhanded summation.

Karnow's "In Our Image," a companion to a PBS documentary on the Philippines, won the Pulitzer in 1990. His other books included "Mao and China" and "Paris in The Fifties," a memoir published in 1997.

"What did we learn from Vietnam?" Karnow later told the AP. "We learned that we shouldn't have been there in the first place."

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