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On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam
     

On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam

by Joyce Hoffmann
 

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Over three hundred women, both print and broadcast journalists, were accredited to chronicle America's activities in Vietnam. Many of those women won esteemed prizes for their reporting, including the Pulitzer, the Overseas Press Club Award, the George Polk Award, the National Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize for History. Tragically, several lost their lives

Overview

Over three hundred women, both print and broadcast journalists, were accredited to chronicle America's activities in Vietnam. Many of those women won esteemed prizes for their reporting, including the Pulitzer, the Overseas Press Club Award, the George Polk Award, the National Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize for History. Tragically, several lost their lives covering the war, while others were wounded or taken prisoner. In this gripping narrative, veteran journalist Joyce Hoffmann tells the important yet largely unknown story of a central group of these female journalists, including Dickey Chapelle, Gloria Emerson, Kate Webb, and others. Each has a unique and deeply compelling tale to tell, and vivid portraits of their personal lives and professional triumphs are woven into the controversial details of America's twenty-year entanglement in Southeast Asia.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Hoffman spent years creating this history, a series of profiles that go deep into the professional lives of female Vietnam War correspondents. The women-some experienced "war dogs," others young and untried-are drawn with honesty, and though each is a product of her background, they were all changed by the physically and psychologically treacherous assignment. While stateside newsrooms were asking women to report lighter stories, Hoffman's subjects plunged into the battle with vigor-even relish-and unstinting dedication. Aside from dozens of new interviews, Hoffman excerpts some stunning journalism; included are Gloria Emerson, a socialite-turned-New York Times correspondent; Beverly Deepe, who planned to stay for two weeks and remained for seven years; photojournalist Dicky Chapelle, self-proclaimed "interpreter of violence," who died in battle; and Liz Trotta, who fought her bosses to become the first female war correspondent on broadcast TV. Hoffman's research presents the Vietnam experience from an unusual angle, and her inside stories of newswomen under fire is harrowing and highly satisfying.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

During the Vietnam War, a time of dramatic social change in U.S. history, women were demanding more participation at all levels of society-including the right to report on the war. Hoffman (journalism, Old Dominion Univ.) focuses on 15 female correspondents, chronicling both their lives and their reporting. She interweaves the personal, journalistic, and historical strands into a fascinating and dramatic account of the era. Beginning with Gloria Emerson's first trip to Vietnam in 1956 and concluding with Laura Palmer's race to the helicopter during the 1975 evacuation of Saigon, Hoffman recounts the entire war through the work of these women. The trauma of the war is brought home in the booby-trap death of photojournalist Dickey Chapelle, while civil rights issues are reflected in African American journalist Ethel Payne's focus on the lives of black soldiers. Many of the women won prizes, including Pulitzers for Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake and Gloria Emerson's Winners and Losers. Hoffmann's epilog traces the post-Vietnam lives of the women. This well-written book will be important for public and academic libraries.
—Judy Solberg

Kirkus Reviews
Hoffmann (Journalism/Old Dominion Univ.; Theodore H. White and Journalism As Illusion, 1995) celebrates the groundbreaking achievements of the female reporters-radio, print and TV-who covered America's longest, most problematic war. Well before Vietnam, three of the journalists highlighted here-Martha Gellhorn, Dickey Chapelle and Marguerite Higgins-had already made their reputations covering, respectively, the Spanish Civil War, World War II and Korea. What made the Vietnam "experience" different were the sheer numbers who went, the battles they fought and permanently won against the male establishment in the military and within their own newsrooms, and the uncommon distinction with which they performed their award-winning work. Framing the American presence in Vietnam from 1956 to 1975, Hoffmann crams her narrative with names and incidents, but focuses on 15 women, offering a bit about their personal lives and background and a lot about their war work. Standout portraits include those of Chapelle, still the only woman reporter to die during a combat operation; the extravagant Gloria Emerson, who transformed herself from privileged society girl to committed reporter; Frankie FitzGerald, who famously ended up opposing the American program in Southeast Asia her CIA father helped construct; Beverly Deepe, the first woman to become a permanent member of the Saigon press corps; and the hard-charging Liz Trotta of NBC, whose televised reports from the field contributed mightily to Vietnam's later reputation as America's first living-room war. Hoffmann tells especially memorable stories about the enemy capture of reporters Kate Webb and Elizabeth Pond, and tracks the amazing friendship of atleast five of her subjects with Pham Xuan An, whose career Larry Berman documented in Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent (2007). The vast majority of these women never saw themselves as feminists, but their professional deeds earned them an honored place in journalism's annals and in any history of the progress of professional women. Of special appeal to journalism students, but also to those interested in yet another unanticipated consequence of America's deeply complex involvement in Vietnam.
From the Publisher

Kirkus
“Of special appeal to journalism students, but also to those interested in yet another unanticipated consequence of America’s deeply complex involvement in Vietnam.”
Port Folio Weekly, 6/10/08
“Will inspire writers and citizens to adamantly seek, perhaps demand, the perilous truth.”
Fifty Plus
“Thoroughly researched…Well-written, well-paced…Will appeal to lovers of contemporary history…and to anyone who just likes to sit down and read a good book.”
Augusta Metro Spirit
“In a well-crafted narrative brimming with detail oriented analysis, Joyce Hoffman offers a wonderful view of the experiences of women seeking a place in the field of journalism within the context of war news coverage…Filled with stories of similar attitude, passion, and dedication, Hoffman’s account is perfect.”
Howard County Times, 8/7/08
“An important addition to the canon of Vietnam War literature.”
Advocate, 8/23/08
“An unforgettable in-depth look.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786721665
Publisher:
Da Capo Books
Publication date:
06/24/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Journalist Joyce Hoffmann has written for many publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Virginia, where she teaches at Old Dominion University.

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