April 2, 2004 by

John Sack


Categories: Media, Military, Writers/Editors

jsack2.jpg John Sack’s first article for Esquire Magazine ran for 33,000 words. It appeared behind an all-black cover bearing the inscription: “Oh My God – We Hit a Little Girl.” The story, which followed an infantry company from training at Fort Dix, N.J., to its first battle in Vietnam, remains the longest article the magazine has ever published.
At the time, Sack’s writing style was considered New Journalism for it adopted a narrative approach that told the story through the eyes and thoughts of its participants. The infantry company’s story was retold by Sack in “M,” a book that was nominated by the NYU Department of Journalism as one of the top journalistic works of the 20th century.
Sack was only 15 years old when he launched his journalism career as a stringer for the Mamaroneck Daily Times at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Siwanoy in New York. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1951 and volunteered for Army service in Korea. During his enlisted years, he wrote dispatches for the Army newspaper, Pacific Stars and Stripes, and freelanced for both United Press and Harper’s.
When he returned to America, Sack started writing humor for The New Yorker. Over the next eight years, he penned more satire for the magazine than anyone except S.J. Perelman and James Thurber. In the 1960s, he worked as a writer, producer and special correspondent for CBS News, served as the CBS bureau chief in Madrid and attended graduate school at Columbia University.
Sack contributed articles to Esquire for 45 years, and covered wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. His series of interviews with Lt. William H. Calley Jr., who was convicted of massacring Vietnamese civilians in My Lai, culminated in a legal battle over shield laws and journalistic privilege. Sack was arrested and indicted on federal felony charges for refusing to testify against Calley and for refusing to surrender his notes and tapes to prosecutors. The case was eventually dropped.
Sack was the only journalist to cover every American war for the past 50 years. He also wrote 10 books, including the controversial title, “An Eye for an Eye.” The nonfiction book caused an uproar because Sack reported that at the end of World War II, thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors ran more than 1,200 concentration camps, where they tortured and killed German civilians, including women and children.
Sack died on March 27 of complications from bone marrow cancer. He was 74.

22 Responses to John Sack

  1. Paul Chessin

    John was a first cousin once-removed. I don’t believe that it is well known that during his stay with CBS he, as a writer, accompanied an American tour group in Europe to note the details for a possible CBS special.
    He told me afterwards, that during that bus ride, he overheard a couple in front of him speaking. Essentially: He: “Where are we?” She: “Well, it’s Tuesday, so it must be Belgium.”
    That became the title of the piece that later aired and became a movie.
    John got no credit since he was merely doing his job.

  2. Thomas

    My parents are Germans from the East. In the US, the tragedy that happened to innocent individuals of German ethnicity is little known. John smote a powerful blow for truth. I bought many copies of “An Eye” and distributed them among friends.
    May his soul rest in the peace well earned by the just.

  3. Robert Harn

    I recently learned of Johns death, he was a great reported and through his work set a standard I hope other can follow. John was attached to C Company 2Bn 34th Armor 1st INF Div for the Gulf War he was attached to us prior to deployment. To say the least he wasn’t received with a warm shoulder. The embedded reporter was a concept that none of us had worked with and were scared to death of. We didn’t need the world knowing what we did. He stayed with us and watched our every move, until about two weeks prior to our deploying. Once in country he once again was in my back pocket. He was one of his word and would listen to any story someone had to tell. He always wanted a true depiction of how C Company operated. C company was the tank company lead the assault for VII Corp and only sustained one injury, which John described to the T. He was a man of few needs and after time a great joy to work with, to this day I have the rosters of those who fought with C 2/34 and “John Sack reporter” served side by side with those PROUD MEN of COMPANY C
    Signed The Crusty Old First Sgt
    C Company 2/34 Armor

  4. Johsackdied

    John Sack’s an apologist for Solomon Morell, the thug who raped & murdered prisoners. Why should we sympathize with John Sack dying of cancer, when he was an apologist for someone who murders & rapes?
    John Sack saw nothing wrong with what Solomon Morel & he was against Solmon Morel being punished for his evil deeds. For this reason, there’s not any serious reasons to feel sorry for the death of John Sack.

  5. reeler

    John Sack excused the murderous deeds of Solomon Morel & for this reason, there’s no reason to empathize with Mr. Sack dying of cancer. John Sack had the mentality of a defense attorney, who sees nothing wrong with murder & rape.

  6. reeler

    Could John Sack have not died of bone cancer? If John Sack had redeemed himself, said he was wrong about being an apologist for Solomon Morel & said that Solomon Morel must be hanged for his evil deeds of murder & rape, then John Sack wouldn’t have died of cancer. God would have spared John Sack.
    John Sack arrogantly was an apologist for the rapes & murders that Solomon Morel did. For this reason, John Sack got bone cancer & John Sack didn’t change his evil thinking in justifying something as horrible as raping a 10 year old girl & murdering the victims. If this had been a German man doing it to a Jewess girl, it wouldn’t be tolerated by John Sack, but John Sack’s an apologist when the perpetrators are Jewish.
    John Sack was given the opportunity to admit he was wrong, but he was arrogant & for John Sack’s arrogant apologism & his refusal to redeem himself, John Sack died of cancer.

  7. partnerfrance

    John Sack was a journalist and the job of a journalist is to tell it like he sees it, with no regard for how others would LIKE to see it. A journalist is supposed to report the TRUTH, not pander to his reader’s opinions, no matter how strongly held.
    The comments above along the lines that John Sack died of cancer because he did not “atone” for his views are ludicrous. I suppose the reasoning is that if he had atoned, he would have lived forever?
    Hurrah for John Sack – a journalist with GUTS.

  8. Diamond

    John Sack may have been a good journalist but he was a pretty bad Jew. Anyone who could compare what Solomon Morel did with the actions of the Nazi’s is either seriously misinformed or ridiculously anti-Semitic. I consider myself a well adjusted individual but as a Jew if I found myself in charge of a camp with Nazi inmates I would of done just what Morel did and I have only lost distant relatives to the Piece of sh*t Nazis. Shame on John Sack for becoming the mouthpiece of the same old anti-Semitic morons who criticize our people’s every action.

  9. karl

    WTF diamond, a bad jew? For what? Telling the truth? Its okay for Israeli secret police to travel to a sovereign state then kidnap somebody for trial, but not okay for Poland to use the law to try and punish a mass-murderer. Im not anti-semetic or a nazi, I just believe crime should be punished. So what if he had family members killed by nazis, how does that excuse killing women and children. Try the bastard I say.

  10. Emmerich Anreiter

    Well said karl. Have the people above actually read the book? Sack dosnt condone the actions of morel, sack was instrumental in exposing him to the world. Thats the reason of the controversy. Jewish leaders didnt approve that sack , a jew, revealed morels murderous exploits.

  11. mnuez

    Obviously I didn’t bother to read his book. It doesn’t interest me.
    Now, I’ll be the first person to say that Jews are not inherently saintly people. I’ve met a whole host of Jews who are pure assholes (generally those employed as lawyers) and other fine and large bunches of semites who are cruel, viscious and mean in all sorts of ways. I’ve even had the delightful experience of meeting Jewish murderers. I therefore make no claim for Jews being somehow above criticism.
    Such being the case, I consider it entirely possible that Mr. Morel is all of the above: a sadist intent on sadism for its own sake. But I have no way of knowing that.
    Having read about the great tragedy of Mr. Morel’s terrible murders (and here I’m being sarcastic) I remain entirely untouched. In fact, I salute Mr. Morel. And I condemn those who write books on him for kicks along with those folk who, not knowing a damn thing about what it was like to be a Jew in German Europe (let’s not play that ‘Nazi Europe’ game, they were Germans iinm) – these righteous westerners not feeling the fear and torture of Jews in German Europe, yawningly condemning Mr. Morel.
    I’m with the Jew whose last act was to inscribe YIDDEN NEKAMA! on the wall of the synagogue in his own blood as his entire village was being murdered. I’m with him. And I salute Mr. Morel for taking that responsibility seriously.
    And you know what? If more Jews would have played the game Morel is accused of playing (probably exaggerated by the way) at the end of WWII; had Kovner had been successful in poisoning the German’s water supply; had Israeli knesset member Chaim Bograshov’s demand for a bombing of Germany been accepted — maybe today’s Jew haters would think twice.
    Alas, they don’t.
    ((And please remember what I penned at the top of my comments to the effect that Morel may in fact be a cruel, heartless, sadistic Nazi whose actions were not the normal and beautiful revenge that they likely were. The revenge on your killers I applaud, but were we to find out that he acted similarly as a communist with people who were not his people’s executioners, my defense rests.))

  12. mnuez

    BR, y’know I guess I must be wrong. You have such a deep understanding of history and medicine that I really would love to become your disciple. Please teach us more. All of that information in your head must be unloaded, if for the sake of comfort, if nothing else. Do inform.

  13. mnuez

    Ahhhh!!!!! You’re right! Now I have cancer and I can’t get rid of it!!!!
    If only I had listened to you BR. If only. But now it’s too late.
    You know what though. I feel like we’re so close so now I’m going to go down to the Western Wall (it’ll take me less than 6 minutes) and I’m going to pronounce a special and strong kabbalistic curse upon you that you get the cancer that you gave me. But I’m going to pray that you DIE from it and in lots of painnnn….
    I’m kidding of course. Even though your writing is really very ugly and your soul appears to be dirtier than the inside of an abandoned dumpster, you also appear to be just plain old crazy and sick and I wouldn’t want to add to your psychosis. and you know why? Becauise i’m a nice jew and I feel bad for the losers of the world such as yourself. that’s the truth. so I’ll tell you that i was just kidding about the curse. If you DO want it though, let me know and I WILL arrange it.
    all the best dumb goy,

  14. James

    John Sack was a good and Honorable man. I first meet him before the Gulf War when he first embedded with my company C co 2-34 Armor 1st Infantry Division.
    He talked and interviewed the Men of the company before we left for the war and meet us in country.
    A couple of times he slept on the back deck of my tank and I got to know him quit well.
    I liked John, he was a good man, and he wrote the truth, and some times the truth is not pretty.
    I hope that those of you that wrote such hateful things will some day find peace and knowledge. I truly pity such ignorance and hate.
    Ace’s 66 Gulf!

  15. Means Kid

    I dont know his complete and personal history, but as a soldier that interacted with him during Desert Storm, the one thing he did that I thought honorable, is after we were all deployed, he took phone numbers from any and everyone who wanted him to contact their families to say that he saw them and they were doing fine. I know my family sure appreciated his phone call.

  16. cliff3219@hotmail.com

    I’ve just written his book and i think the germans had it coming….. he’s is a journalist and write what he see’s just like what the other coment said but i don’t think he got bone cancer cause of his his opinion thats just obsurd! how many germans were executed in the gas chamber or how many german families were split forever then there are no rules in my eyes!

  17. A.B.

    Cliff, you’re a sick man if you see nothing wrong with Solomon Morel raping 6 year old German girls. The 6 year old German girl did nothing wrong. There’s no excuse for Solomon Morel raping her. As far as John Sack getting bone cancer, what’s written is that if John Sack hadn’t been an apologist for Solomon Morel, maybe God would’ve prevented him from getting bone cancer.
    As noted, Stalin’s henchmen were Jewish & Stalin’s Jewish henchmen such as Lazar Kaganovich sent millions of Soviet gentiles to their deaths. Cliff, do you say that because individual Jewish henchmen of Stalin killed millions of Gentiles, that the 6 year old Jewish children who did nothing wrong deserve to be killed in the gas chambers? That innocent Jewish men & innocent Jewess women deserved the gas chambers for the deeds of individuals?
    It’s sad that there are sick people like Cliff & the late John Sack who see nothing wrong with rape. There’s no excuse for such evil atrocities whether it’s the Holodomor, Holocaust & Solomon Morel’s evil. Only God can decide if John Sack is to be forgiven.

  18. David

    To “br”
    You have some good points (ex- Stalin killed more people than Hitler but everyone seems to ignore it…) but as for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you are off your rocker. They were a naval base and a staging area for soldiers, making them military targets. They were hit because the weather happened to be clear on the chosen days for the bombings, neither were the primary targets for the nuclear bombs. I wish I could find the list of targets for you.
    Bombing raids on German cities were aiming for military targets, but accuracy was such that they could rarely land the bombs in a target area smaller than a mile on a side. Furthermore, there is really no such thing as a civilian target in the age of total industrial warfare since they are the means of production, each and every one of them contributes to a country’s capacity to wage war. The bombing raids did very little actual damage to Germany’s military and industrial infrastructure, but the resources diverted to fight it (the best half of Germany’s air force, nearly 20 000 guns and almost a million men) were substantial. This is what made it a strategic success. It was not cost effective, but the Western allies had more than enough money.

  19. br

    I hope it’s not too late for me to say that some of my comments were out of line. Mr. John Sack died in 2004. Considering that Mr. John Sack is dead, I was out of line to have disparaged a dead man. Any arguments that I had with John Sack should have been done while he was alive. Let the dead rest, Also I request that the moderator removes my past posts under Reeler & John Sack died & please delete most of the past posts such as by Diamond & Mnuez. This blog is supposed to be about paying respects to a dead man & not personality clashes. Please remove most of their posts incl. mine.
    I disagreed with John Sack’s blind faith defense of Solomon Morel (who died in 2007), because Solomon Morel had no right to kill children. The 10 year old German girl killed by Solomon Morel did not kill Solomon Morel’s family & is innocent. With that said, the main point here to repeat that I was out of line attacking John Sack. Hopefully, John Sack changed his views regarding Solomon Morel before he died. But given that John Sack is dead, may John Sack rest in peace. God bless & I hope that this letter resolves the matter amicably.

  20. Mr. Gilliam

    I just learned of Johns passing, even though I haven’t had any contact with him in nearly 15 years, I am deeply saddened. I was with c 2/34 and came to know him as a good man who listened intently to all of our stories and tales, and who genuinely wanted to get past the hype and popular spin, and report on the real. Say what you will, he was a man of conviction ( and sometimes suffered because of those convictions) and for that I truly admired the man.
    He will be missed greatly by myself and I’m sure the rest of the 2/34. ” An Ace until death”

  21. Charles Bell

    I haven’t read ‘Eye For An Eye’ but I hope to do so. But surely we can all agree that _anyone_ — regardless of ethnicity, religion, political persuasion or history of persecution — who deliberately kills or maims a child has put himself beyond the pale of morality. I haven’t read ‘Calley’ either but the same applies to that officer. I know that Jack* excused Calley on the grounds that he thought he was carrying out the commands of his superiors but I hardly need to point out the weakness of that Nurnburg defense.
    *Minor historical footnotes:
    1) He really was ‘Jack’ (or sometimes ‘JJ’) to his college roommates, friends and acquaintances though for some reason he later adamantly denied the fact.
    2) Few if any of his biographies mentions his first book, ‘The Butcher’ (1952), an account of the pioneering ascent of Yerupaja in Peru by a party of Harvard mountaineers. Sack accompanied the climbers to base camp and assisted in the evacuation of the two injured summiteers.

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