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War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters who Covered Vietnam

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For the first time, nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their professional and deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked, and loved surrounded by war. Their stories span a decade of America’s involvement in Vietnam, from the earliest days of the conflict until the last U.S. helicopters left Saigon in 1975. They were gutsy risk- For the first time, nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their professional and deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked, and loved surrounded by war. Their stories span a decade of America’s involvement in Vietnam, from the earliest days of the conflict until the last U.S. helicopters left Saigon in 1975. They were gutsy risk-takers who saw firsthand what most Americans knew only from their morning newspapers or the evening news. Many had very particular reasons for going to Vietnam—some had to fight and plead to go—but others ended up there by accident. What happened to them was remarkable and important by any standard. Their lives became exciting beyond anything they had ever imagined, and the experience never left them. It was dangerous—one was wounded, and one was captured by the North Vietnamese—but the challenges they faced were uniquely rewarding. They lived at full tilt, making an impact on all the people around them, from the orphan children in the streets to their fellow journalists and photographers to the soldiers they met and lived with in the field. They experienced anguish and heartbreak—and an abundance of friendship and love. These stories not only introduce a remarkable group of individuals but give an entirely new perspective on the most controversial conflict in our history. Vietnam changed their lives forever. Here they tell about it with all the candor, commitment, and energy that characterized their courageous reporting during the war. From the Hardcover edition.


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For the first time, nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their professional and deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked, and loved surrounded by war. Their stories span a decade of America’s involvement in Vietnam, from the earliest days of the conflict until the last U.S. helicopters left Saigon in 1975. They were gutsy risk- For the first time, nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their professional and deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked, and loved surrounded by war. Their stories span a decade of America’s involvement in Vietnam, from the earliest days of the conflict until the last U.S. helicopters left Saigon in 1975. They were gutsy risk-takers who saw firsthand what most Americans knew only from their morning newspapers or the evening news. Many had very particular reasons for going to Vietnam—some had to fight and plead to go—but others ended up there by accident. What happened to them was remarkable and important by any standard. Their lives became exciting beyond anything they had ever imagined, and the experience never left them. It was dangerous—one was wounded, and one was captured by the North Vietnamese—but the challenges they faced were uniquely rewarding. They lived at full tilt, making an impact on all the people around them, from the orphan children in the streets to their fellow journalists and photographers to the soldiers they met and lived with in the field. They experienced anguish and heartbreak—and an abundance of friendship and love. These stories not only introduce a remarkable group of individuals but give an entirely new perspective on the most controversial conflict in our history. Vietnam changed their lives forever. Here they tell about it with all the candor, commitment, and energy that characterized their courageous reporting during the war. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters who Covered Vietnam

  1. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    I don't think I could have written Yesterday's Tomorrow without reading this book. Before I read War Torn, I had very little idea what it must have been like for a female journalist in Vietnam. Each of the stories within this amazing book hold profound truths that will sink deep into your soul and not let go. I'm profoundly indebted to these courageous women for sharing their stories with the world. I was educated, inspired and changed by their experiences. For anyone with any interest in journa I don't think I could have written Yesterday's Tomorrow without reading this book. Before I read War Torn, I had very little idea what it must have been like for a female journalist in Vietnam. Each of the stories within this amazing book hold profound truths that will sink deep into your soul and not let go. I'm profoundly indebted to these courageous women for sharing their stories with the world. I was educated, inspired and changed by their experiences. For anyone with any interest in journalism, and The Vietnam War this is a must read!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Misti

    This book is a series of essays from women reporters who covered the Vietnam war, sharing their experiences many years later. I really liked a few of them and a few were just ok. These women made lifelong friends, lost friends, fell in love, married, had children, got sick, and were imprisoned while doing a job that changed them forever. For me, this war is just a chapter in a history book so it was interesting to read about women who lived it. They were pioneers for their field at that time. Pa This book is a series of essays from women reporters who covered the Vietnam war, sharing their experiences many years later. I really liked a few of them and a few were just ok. These women made lifelong friends, lost friends, fell in love, married, had children, got sick, and were imprisoned while doing a job that changed them forever. For me, this war is just a chapter in a history book so it was interesting to read about women who lived it. They were pioneers for their field at that time. Part of me would like to do a little more research and actually find some of their articles, but the other part of me is lazy. I read their experiences and try to think of ways we’ve progressed since then but right now, I really can’t think of very many.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    This book is a collection of ten first-person essays from women who worked as correspondents during the Vietnam War. Their tenures range from the beginning years of the war to the fall of Saigon and release of POWs. Some women were seasoned journalists before gaining their assignments (and most had to wrest their jobs from editors reluctant to send women to war) while others learned their craft on the ground. Through these essays, you'll experience the war in ways you probably could not from male This book is a collection of ten first-person essays from women who worked as correspondents during the Vietnam War. Their tenures range from the beginning years of the war to the fall of Saigon and release of POWs. Some women were seasoned journalists before gaining their assignments (and most had to wrest their jobs from editors reluctant to send women to war) while others learned their craft on the ground. Through these essays, you'll experience the war in ways you probably could not from male correspondents. The war correspondent's job is a level playing field -- no one pampered these women or let them off lightly. They were there to do a job and they hustled. But because they were women, they might have had certain advantages: they were sympathetic figures to whom people were willing to open their hearts and spill their stories. War wasn't the only subject matter for these correspondents. As reporters, they became fascinated by the country, saw the beauty in it even while that beauty was being destroyed. They turned their notepads and their cameras on the people of Vietnam, reporting the war from the most intimate level. Even more striking in each of these essays is the insight these women gained about themselves. They are eloquent in parsing how the war changed them, both for the better and for worse. Many of them returned to Vietnam decades later and basked in this country that many experienced as a second home during a turbulent time. Life was intense and friendships deep; many found love, both fleeting and lifelong. In these essays, you'll be immersed in the lives of these fascinating women. And just for the record, here are their names: Gloria Emerson, Denby Fawcett, Ann Bryan Mariano, Kate Webb, Anne Morrissy Merick, Jurate Kazickas, Edith Lederer, Tad Bartimus, Tracy Wood and Laura Palmer.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Dale

    This book is especially relevant now that the Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War is being aired for the first time on TV. As a pastoral minister looking back to America’s most controversial war, I was hoping for the clarity that didn’t seem available when it was actually being fought. This book, written by women who were more or less my age at that time, showed me whole new aspects of this event. I leaned that many of the women came into Vietnam naively viewing a job there as a challeng This book is especially relevant now that the Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War is being aired for the first time on TV. As a pastoral minister looking back to America’s most controversial war, I was hoping for the clarity that didn’t seem available when it was actually being fought. This book, written by women who were more or less my age at that time, showed me whole new aspects of this event. I leaned that many of the women came into Vietnam naively viewing a job there as a challenging adventure, but found that their experiences matured and deepened them forever. I learned that in most cases these young women found the soldiers they spent so much time with in the field were accepting, safe, and friendly. I learned how the women struggled to keep the objectivity demanded by their role as journalists while viewing horrific events. The account written by Laura Palmer, who worked for ABC and NBC news, was the last in the book and particularly hard-hitting. She writes that she didn’t realize until years after the US evacuated Saigon how the war had changed her. In spite of interviews that “plunged me into the coldest chambers of war’s sadistic heart,” in spite of enduring relentless heat and artillery bombardment, and in spite of the heart-breaking experience of having to leave intimate friendships behind during the evacuation, she witnessed tremendous love. Only later did Laura realize she had become so used to hearing how intensely soldiers talked about their buddies and how nurses talked about their patients that she had “missed its significance entirely.” The love she’d been listening to for years suddenly took on new meaning. “In its power and radiance it was, and is, the presence of God.” As an author, this is a theme very close to my heart. Deep down and often easy to miss, the luminous and loving divine presence can be found in even the worst of situations. War Torn is a remarkable book, perhaps even more instructive today than when it was published in 2002, because other wars since then have made its hard-won wisdom more needed. Veronica Dale: Blood Seed, Dark Twin, and Night Cruiser: Short Stories about Creepy, Amusing or Spiritual Encounters with the Shadow

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian Page

    War Torn: Stories of War from Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam is an amazing kaleidoscope of stories from nine women who reported the American War in Vietnam; and it’s unlike any of the dozen or so memoirs I’ve read from male correspondents of that era. To me the accounts are striking for being uniformly very personal. You learn about their love lives, impressionistic details of the beauty they found in the land & people, and how the experience deeply affected them. I was surprised at how man War Torn: Stories of War from Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam is an amazing kaleidoscope of stories from nine women who reported the American War in Vietnam; and it’s unlike any of the dozen or so memoirs I’ve read from male correspondents of that era. To me the accounts are striking for being uniformly very personal. You learn about their love lives, impressionistic details of the beauty they found in the land & people, and how the experience deeply affected them. I was surprised at how many expressed a little glee at getting back to Saigon, out of their muddy boots & fatigues, and into their miniskirts! One could do no better than to read Kate Webb’s piece: “…I wrote an application for an interview using the longest, most official words I could think of, stamped it with Singapore coins rubbed in an ink pad, wet it in the gutter outside the office…. ‘Nice try,’ he said.” (p. 64) Another not-to-be-missed account is that of Jurate Kazickas, although reading any chapter will turn this book into a can’t-put-it-down. The exception might be that of Anne Merick, who comes across as very much “on the team,” to an extent that is embarrassing now. At least she’s honest. With few exceptions, women journalists were not encouraged, or permitted, by news organizations to report from Vietnam. Several got there by hook or crook, as in Tad Bartimus’ case: “By sundown on that joyous day, I had used my new AP international air travel card to book my ticket, sold my 1966 Mustang to a delighted co-worker for a hundred bucks, given away most of my clothes, told my boyfriend to have a great life, and arranged a rendezvous with my parents in San Francisco in a week.” (p. 195) What is most refreshing in reading these accounts is how clearly the passion of these women comes across. They were highly driven, extraordinarily determined; and exposing the truth of the war was practically a sacred calling.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    These essays were brilliant, written by the journalists many years after the end of the war. Some of the journalists have since died; one of them writes as Alzheimer's begins to steal from her; one continues to suffer from exposure to chemical weapons. All of them were at least a few years older than I was during the Vietnam War. A few were veteran journalists, some were just starting out. It's fascinating - and yet somehow not surprising - that their presence during combat situations was mostly These essays were brilliant, written by the journalists many years after the end of the war. Some of the journalists have since died; one of them writes as Alzheimer's begins to steal from her; one continues to suffer from exposure to chemical weapons. All of them were at least a few years older than I was during the Vietnam War. A few were veteran journalists, some were just starting out. It's fascinating - and yet somehow not surprising - that their presence during combat situations was mostly accepted by the soldiers, even welcomed, and that the women journalists' greatest impediments came from military leadership and their own media employers (and sometimes from other male journalists). Imagine the conflicted feelings. These women came to the war from a variety of backgrounds and political beliefs, and each was challenged, not only physically, but morally and philosophically. Hell, I am a mid-Boomer woman who never served in the military or in any support services, who never went to war to report on it, who grew to oppose the war, whose beloved brother was a Vietnam-era marine (although he never served in-country), and even with that protective distance from the actual horror, I can say honestly that Vietnam derailed me. It changed my life. I'm one of those non-combatants, physically untouched by the war, who nevertheless fell off the train of history when it rounded that sharp curve that was Vietnam and Cambodia.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ron Bitto

    A most personal perspective on the Vietnam war While many memoirs by soldiers who served in Vietnam focus on the details of battle, this collection of stories by women who reported on the war delivers personal insights, emotions and vivid descriptions of the trials and tribulations of life in Saigon and in the field during turbulent times.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Mathews

    The only Vietnam War book I've found with the American women's perspective. A truly unique work that should be read by history majors across the US studying Southeast Asia, the Vietnam War, Women's history, e.t.c.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.E. Gaulton

    An interesting book written by Female journo's during the Vietnam War.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Isobel Mancini

    Lots of really beautiful excerpts and just such inspiration ——- I always had this idea that I wanted to string abroad like these women and now I want to go toMORROW

  11. 5 out of 5

    Denny Hunt

    Excellent book to read if you have any interest in journalistic coverage of the Vietnam War.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ardene

    It’s only in the last few years that I’ve begun to actually read a few books that discuss the war in Vietnam, but not in any systematic fashion. I read War Torn: Stories of war from the women who reported them based on a recommendation and it was a fascinating and satisfying read. Each chapter is a narrative by a different woman who reported on Vietnam from in country, so a variety of perspectives are represented. What struck me about these narratives was how at one and the same time these women 1 It’s only in the last few years that I’ve begun to actually read a few books that discuss the war in Vietnam, but not in any systematic fashion. I read War Torn: Stories of war from the women who reported them based on a recommendation and it was a fascinating and satisfying read. Each chapter is a narrative by a different woman who reported on Vietnam from in country, so a variety of perspectives are represented. What struck me about these narratives was how at one and the same time these women 1. Fought for the chance to cover the war 2. Knew they were a wave of first women covering war (rather than one or two “exceptions”) and 3. Denied they were doing anything special The first theme that came through was the deep respect each woman felt for the American soldiers, as well as for the Vietnamese who worked with the Americans, many of whom were left behind in the last airlift from Saigon. This coupled with an intensity of feeling for the people they interacted with. The second theme was compassion. For the soldiers, the civilians, and, over time, for themselves. And finally, the third theme was loss. The sudden deaths of people they cared about , the devastation of the countryside and the displacement of villages, the impact on their own health long term, and the losses of family and friends of soldiers in the US all made a lasting impression on these war correspondents. And I wonder, how are our current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq like (and unlike) that one in Vietnam. I suspect our nation will be affected as deeply by these conflicts as it was by Vietnam.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Each personal essay in this book brought me back to the sixties and early seventies when the Vietnam War was raging and the US was caught up in it unable to move forward; the country was polarized and not communicating except in rhetoric and stereotypes: politician against citizen; soldier against civilian; hawk against dove; student against elder; and hippie against worker. These women reporters went to Vietnam to report the facts as best they could, despite the common view that women should no Each personal essay in this book brought me back to the sixties and early seventies when the Vietnam War was raging and the US was caught up in it unable to move forward; the country was polarized and not communicating except in rhetoric and stereotypes: politician against citizen; soldier against civilian; hawk against dove; student against elder; and hippie against worker. These women reporters went to Vietnam to report the facts as best they could, despite the common view that women should not be in or near combat. Their remembrances of their struggles and successes, however small or large, give testimony to that time in our country when people had hope that the US was moving forward and could live up to the ideals it was founded upon, and an individual could make a difference and make the US a better place. Each women testified that they loved, lived, and felt more intensely during that time in their life than they ever did again. Part of it was their age, but a big part of it was the war, and a larger part was the beauty and mystery of Vietnam itself. The essays at the end of the book covered the evacuation of US troups in 1975, a very heartbreaking time for these journalists, many of whom tried to get Vietnamese friends out, and many who saw friends choose to stay with their country. Some of the women married and gave birth to children during their time covering the Vietman War, and some essays included descriptions of their return to Vietnam after its recovery from the war. Highly recommended for any women going into the military as a nurse or into a medical unit. Recommended for anyone who does not understand why the Vietnam War tore the US apart.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Confronting and compelling reading. Amazing insight into (female) war correspondents' experiences in Vietnam. I was mainly reading this because it contains a section by Kate Webb(who I was named after) and being a post-Vietnam child, I am not as knowledgable about the American War in Vietnam as I possibly should be. This is fascinating - for the detailed, frank experiences of these women at the coalface of the war, the look into the soldiers' reality in Vietnam and most moving, the psychological Confronting and compelling reading. Amazing insight into (female) war correspondents' experiences in Vietnam. I was mainly reading this because it contains a section by Kate Webb(who I was named after) and being a post-Vietnam child, I am not as knowledgable about the American War in Vietnam as I possibly should be. This is fascinating - for the detailed, frank experiences of these women at the coalface of the war, the look into the soldiers' reality in Vietnam and most moving, the psychological impact this has had on those who write their stories. It is painful to read the level of distancing that these survivors have utilised (either consciously, or unconsciously) to cope with their experiences and how this has stayed with them, even 25 years later.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Evans

    When we were living in Manila in the 70's, my family was good friends with a UPI correspondent, Leon Daniel, who was a phenomenal journalist during the Vietnam War. He regaled us with stories from the front, as well as his banishment from Thailand as "persona non grata". His wife became a very close friend of my mom. At one point, one of the women in this book, Kate Webb, was living in Manila as well. She was at our house many times (my parents entertained a lot!) It was fascinating to read of h When we were living in Manila in the 70's, my family was good friends with a UPI correspondent, Leon Daniel, who was a phenomenal journalist during the Vietnam War. He regaled us with stories from the front, as well as his banishment from Thailand as "persona non grata". His wife became a very close friend of my mom. At one point, one of the women in this book, Kate Webb, was living in Manila as well. She was at our house many times (my parents entertained a lot!) It was fascinating to read of her experience as a prisoner of the Viet Cong. Everyone thought she was dead; in fact her obituary had been published.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kormylo

    This is the book I have always been looking for about the Vietnam War. Short on details about military moves and political power struggles it rather depicts the surreal, haunting, grinding and sometimes romantic landscape that was Saigon and Southeast Asia during the war. Some of these stories are just being told by women journalists after 35 years of silence. Reading this book makes me visualize war scenes more vivid then anything in Apocalypse Now (like the Zippo brigade burning all hay stacks This is the book I have always been looking for about the Vietnam War. Short on details about military moves and political power struggles it rather depicts the surreal, haunting, grinding and sometimes romantic landscape that was Saigon and Southeast Asia during the war. Some of these stories are just being told by women journalists after 35 years of silence. Reading this book makes me visualize war scenes more vivid then anything in Apocalypse Now (like the Zippo brigade burning all hay stacks in a village - ammo hiding places - during what was called 'County Fairs') and is essential reading for the Vietnam reader.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A collection of memoirs and accounts of the Vietnam War by female reporters. While on holiday in Vietnam last September we met one of the authors Denby Fawcett, who is now in her 60's and was on holiday there (she's the one on the front of the book). I read it mainly because it was by her and I was intrigued to find out more about her time and experiences there. It was very informative book with some touching moments and gave me some understanding of the horrors of the things that happened there A collection of memoirs and accounts of the Vietnam War by female reporters. While on holiday in Vietnam last September we met one of the authors Denby Fawcett, who is now in her 60's and was on holiday there (she's the one on the front of the book). I read it mainly because it was by her and I was intrigued to find out more about her time and experiences there. It was very informative book with some touching moments and gave me some understanding of the horrors of the things that happened there as well as the political background.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    One of two books I read during a summer vacation at the beach (the other was "Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam"). I enjoyed this book because most books about war are told from the male point of view. As a woman and a reporter, it gave me a different understanding of Vietnam. Very compelling read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katy Brandes

    I remember one particular story as heart-wrenching but mesmerizing as well. The courage of this woman was incredible, and it amazing to imagine having lived her story. I'm glad I read this book. These personal stories were so interesting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A collection of memoirs of the women who were at the front lines of Vietnam. Fascinating, touching, sad, disturbing and beautiful. Worth any time you wish to give it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Really interesting to hear different aspects of the war and the field of journalism

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Beautiful! Loved reading their stories and seeing how their lives intersected. It also made me want to visit this beautiful country.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mickie

    A compelling collection of memoirs from women journalists sent to cover the Vietnam War. This and Telex from Cuba were among my favorite reads in 2008.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    The stories of the women journalists whom were in Vietnam show us their true colors and how human they were during one of the darkest times in U.S. history. I loved reading this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Renee Garris

    A must read for anyone who wants to understand the Vietnam War from different perspectives. This is a collection of stories from women who reported on the war.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hulananni

    Quick read. Poignant, enlightening, worrisome (seems like it's happening again in Iraq.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Logan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

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