SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam, whose bestselling books -- including The Best and the Brightest, The Breaks of the Game, The Reckoning and October 1964 -- chronicled politics, history and sports, was killed in a car accident Monday. He was 73.
Halberstam was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle in Menlo Park, California, near San Francisco, the San Mateo County coroner's office said Monday. The accident occurred about 10:30 a.m. Pacific time.
The driver is a student at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where Halberstam had spoken Saturday about the craft of journalism, the Associated Press reported.
Halberstam appeared to have died of internal injuries, said Coroner Robert Foucrault. Halberstam was declared dead at the scene.
In 1964 Halberstam, then with The New York Times, shared a Pulitzer for international reporting for his coverage of the early years of the Vietnam War, including the 1963 overthrow of South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem.
According to his wife, Jean, Halberstam was working on a book about the 1958 NFL championship between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts, often considered the greatest NFL game ever played.
Orville Schell, the dean of Berkeley's journalism school, said Halberstam was in the Bay Area to talk to NFL Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, who played for both the Colts and Giants, though he spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers.
Jean Halberstam said she would remember him most for his "unending, bottomless generosity to young journalists."
"For someone who obviously was so competitive with himself, the generosity with other writers was incredible," she told the AP.
"He was a dear friend," author Gay Talese -- who was at the Halberstams' home Monday night and was best man at his wedding -- told the AP.
"The world has lost one of our greatest journalists," the Times' chairman and publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement issued by the newspaper. "Our heartfelt sympathy goes to David's family."
David Halberstam was born April 10, 1934, in New York City. His father, a surgeon, moved the family around the country, and Halberstam spent time in Texas, Minnesota and Connecticut, according to the AP.
After attending Harvard University, Halberstam launched his career in 1955 at the Daily Times Leader, a small daily in West Point, Mississippi. In those late days of Jim Crow, Halberstam's progressive politics disagreed with those of the editor, and within a few years he had moved to The (Nashville) Tennessean, "which was more amenable to coverage of racial conflict," observed Hank Klibanoff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The civil rights movement was growing, and Halberstam was part of a group of reporters who covered what became known as "the Nashville Movement." He later wrote a book about the civil rights movement, The Children.
In 1960, Halberstam moved to The New York Times. In 1962, the Times sent him to Vietnam.
Halberstam has said he initially supported U.S. activity there but soon questioned American involvement. He wrote about how succeeding American governments became gradually more enmeshed in Vietnam in his 1972 bestseller, The Best and the Brightest.
Halberstam, along with Malcolm W. Browne, won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Vietnam.
Halberstam "stayed the course and he kept the faith in the belief in the people's right to know," the AP's George Esper, who spent 10 years in Vietnam, told the wire service. "In the end, and I think we can all be very proud of this, he was proven right. The bottom line was that David was more honest with the American public than their own government."
Halberstam quit daily journalism in 1967. His 21 books include The Best and the Brightest, The Breaks of the Game (about the 1970s NBA), The Powers That Be (about the news media), The Reckoning (about Ford, Nissan and W. Edwards Deming's engineering methods), The Fifties (a chronicle of the decade) and several on baseball, including Summer of '49, October 1964 and The Teammates.
His constant shifts from heavier material to lighter fare were deliberate, he said. "You do an allegedly serious book on politics or whatever, and then you catch your breath doing a smaller book on sports," he told CNN.com in 2003.
His 2002 best-seller, War in a Time of Peace, was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
He was long a strong believer in skeptical, hard-hitting journalism, and wondered about its future.
"The reporting you get on the main networks is more about entertainment and sensationalism and scandal rather than substantive, so I've been somewhat melancholy and critical of it over the last decade and a half," he said in 2003.
But he said there would always be value in the work.
"The idea that somewhere before it is a big story that there is some young person... putting themselves on the line morally, ethically, journalistically, that is a great thing," Halberstam told the AP. "I mean, that is what a free society is about."