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Peter Arnett to Keynote Caravelle Hotel’s 50th Anniversary

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Peter Arnett, one of the 20th Century’s most distinguished war correspondents and winner of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam, returns to Saigon May 6-10, as the Caravelle Hotel celebrates the 50th Anniversary of its opening.

Arnett, who filed more than 3,000 dispatches from Vietnam as an Associated Press correspondent, will keynote an anniversary celebration at the hotel May 8.

“More than any other member of the foreign press corps, Peter Arnett opened the door to an honest appreciation of what was happening on the ground in Vietnam during the war,” said John Gardner, general manager of the Caravelle Hotel. “From the rumblings of wider war in 1962 to the Fall of Saigon in 1975, Arnett worked tirelessly to make sure there was clear flow of information issuing from the quagmire of that conflict. That so much of this information emanated from the Caravelle is part of what we’re celebrating this spring.”

Fellow war correspondent and historian David Halberstam hailed Arnett as “the best reporter of the war,” in his landmark book, “The Best and the Brightest.” Arnett won later fame as a CNN reporter, covering conflict from Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He interviewed Osama Bin Laden in Bora Bora in March 1997, and is perhaps best known for his Emmy-award winning coverage from Baghdad during the first Gulf War in 1991.

A native New Zealander, Arnett first arrived in Saigon June 26, 1962, to begin work on a story that would last 13 years. On his first night in the country, he checked into the Caravelle Hotel, then open less than two years and already making a name for itself as a preferred watering hole of the foreign press corps.

“Because the Caravelle is so closely associated with the foreign press corps, and because Mr. Arnett’s relationship to this city nearly as long as the hotel’s itself, we were really keen to have him come back after all these years,” said Martyn Davies, general director of the Caravelle.

In 1998, the landmark Caravelle Hotel was completely refurbished and complemented by a new 24-story tower. Today, the Caravelle ranks as one of the country’s most prestigious hotels. Its rooftop bar is one of Saigon’s most popular, as it was during the war.

Like many reporters, Arnett frequently visited the Caravelle, whether to meet with colleagues who worked out of news bureaus within the hotel, or for drinks on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.

Arnett later wrote a memoir that detailed his experiences in Vietnam. That book, “Live from the Battlefield,” was selected as one of the New York Times’ ‘Notable Books’ of 1994. Today, Arnett teaches journalism at Shantou University north of Hong Kong.

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