Ward Just, a journalist for whom the Vietnam War was both a personal trauma and a national tragedy, inspiring him to write novels about people whose lives are shaped by war, political intrigue, myopic diplomats and other forces beyond their control, died on Thursday at a hospital in Plymouth, Mass. He was 84.

Mr. Just was recognized not only as a prominent reporter on the Vietnam War, like David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett and others, but also as a novelist and short-story writer of the first rank. His spare and graceful prose in a score of novels and numerous short stories was compared to Ernest Hemingway’s, while his perceptions about American society reminded some critics of Henry James.