C.D.B. Bryan, 73, whose 1976 book
, about the accidental death of a soldier in Vietnam, struck a chord with disillusioned Americans, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Guilford, Conn., said his wife, Mairi. He was holding one of his iconic shaken martinis when he died, she said.
Although Mr. Bryan wrote extensively for several magazines throughout his career, he was best known for Friendly Fire.
The book, which started as an article for the New Yorker, is based on the 1970 death of Iowa soldier Michael Eugene Mullen, killed by shrapnel from fellow troops' weapons. It chronicled his parents' doubts about the Army's official account of the death, their quest for answers, and the transformation of his mother, Peg Mullen, into an ardent antiwar activist. She died in October.
"He was very proud of the fact that he exposed the friendly-fire issue, and the fact that the government was lying to people who were as very patriotic as the Mullens were," Mairi Bryan said. "Of all of his works, Friendly Fire was the one of which he was most proud."
The book was turned into a 1979 Emmy-winning television movie starring Carol Burnett, Ned Beatty, Sam Waterston, and Timothy Hutton.
Mr. Bryan, whose name was Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan, was born in New York in 1936. He always enjoyed writing and credited his stepfather, the novelist John O'Hara, with nurturing his interest in fiction.
Mr. Bryan, known to friends as "Courty" and Courtlandt, especially liked good conversation and good martinis - always shaken, never stirred, Mairi Bryan said.