Today, I'm thrilled to tell you about a new book, which is especially close to my heart because as a young woman in the early days of my career as a television news reporter, I briefly entertained the dream of working as a war correspondant.
REPORTING UNDER FIRE:16 DARING WOMEN WAR CORRESPONDENTS AND PHOTOJOURNALISTS, by Kerrie Logan Hollihan, is filled with historical photos, newspaper clippings and personal stories from the women journalists themselves.
The publisher Chicago Review Press describes the women chronicled in the book who risked their lives to tell wartime stories:
Each woman—including Sigrid Schultz, who broadcast news via radio from Berlin on the eve of the Second World War; Margaret Bourke-White, who rode with General George Patton’s Third Army and brought back the first horrific photos of the Buchenwald concentration camp; and Marguerite Higgins, who typed stories while riding in the front seat of an American jeep that was fleeing the North Korean Army—experiences her own journey, both personally and professionally, and each draws her own conclusions. Yet without exception, these war correspondents share a singular ambition: to answer an inner call driving them to witness war firsthand, and to share what they learn via words or images. Photojournalist Helen Jones Kirtland looking at a spent landmine,probably near Ypres, Belgium, 1919. (Library of Congress)
The book just came out two weeks ago, and I'm so pleased to introduce you to Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan
My thanks to Mary for asking me to guest blog this week.
She asked me to focus on courage, which got me thinking about the sixteen women I profiled. At that point I realized I never especially characterize these women as courageous, though of course they are or were. Other attributes come to mind: smart, articulate, resourceful, brave, bold, brash, stubborn. But were I to choose a single adjective to best describe the women in my book, it would be:
Authentic. That’s the “keyword” I’d plug in for every one of them. Here’s how I explain my choice in the foreword to Reporting Under Fire:
When my daughter was a junior at [an all-girl high school], someone wrote a lovely quote on a poster during pep week. It was from Judy Garland…It said: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
… Garland’s words came to me as I was putting the finishing touches on this book. In looking over the profiles I’d researched and written over nearly a year, I was struck by how each of these of these women is (or was) so much her authentic self….
To be authentic takes courage. To know who you truly are and to live your life acting on that self-awareness takes courage. You might be a war reporter who risks it all to do what you are called to do. Janine di Giovanni (now Middle East editor of Newsweek) “bears witness” to war’s impact on ordinary people. Sigrid Schultz was the first reporter to warn that Adolf Hitler was building concentration camps and isolating German Jews. Chicago Daily News reporter Georgie Anne Geyer was marked for death in Guatemala by the White Hand, ultra-right-wing terrorists.
Or you might be a big city dweller like my daughter, grown up now, who sees how authenticity and self-awareness matter in the jobs and private lives of modern women, surrounded as they are by bottom-liners and bottom-feeders. How to live courageously and meaningfully in a lousy world. How to be a first rate version of herself.
Photo below: Correspondent Martha Raddatz (right) in Afghanistan, May 2011, Producer Ely Brown (left) Courtesy Raddatz
ABC Chief Global Correspondent Martha Raddatz is a case in point: smart, plain-speaking, and unpretentious. She told me she loved to read biographies as a kid, that “…maybe that’s the first inkling you want to live a life that’s not the one you’re living.”
Martha left college to take a news jobs -- something she doesn’t recommend to others. That was about forty years ago, and she’s been reporting ever since. She thrives on what she does, as she said in a talk at her son’s college. “The one reason more than any other that I love the news business is because I learn something every single day. Every single day.”
Martha Raddatz is the real deal, as is every single woman in my book. Authentic. Courageous.
Thank you, Kerrie. And thank you for writing an excellent and exciting book on this important and inspiring topic.
I appreciate the quote from Martha Raddatz because that is also one of the reasons I loved working in the news business, and part of why I'm so happy writing books for kids. I'm hungry to learn, and writing allows me to share the interesting things I learn.
For more on REPORTING UNDER FIRE, here's what School Library Journal has to say.
"A well-researched and riveting book...the text is chock-full of their daring exploits—such as Sigrid Schultz cohosting an engagement party for top Nazi Hermann Göring—all in the name of landing their stories. Not only do readers gain a healthy respect for each reporter, but they also gain insight into global history. As such, the book reads like a narrative time line of world history, women's rights, and the field of journalism as a whole."
This is the kind of book that should be in every school library. I'm calling my local district to see if they have it. I challenge you to do the same.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers in the blog comments, by email or social media.