The Women Who Wrote the War

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9780060958398: The Women Who Wrote the War

They came from Boston, New York, Milwaukee, and St. Louis; from San Francisco and points east.  They left comfortable homes and safe sourroundings for combat-zone duty.  They were women war correspondants, bringing to the battlefields of World War II a fresh perspective, reporting what they witnessed with a new sensiblity.

The women who wrote the war include world-famous photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, the only Western photgrapher to cover the Nazi invasion of the USSR; writer Martha Gelhorn, wife of Ernest Heminghway and one of the first reporters to document the menace of fascism; Lee Miller, the legendary photographer who took a bath in Hitler's tub; and dozens more gutsy women whose devastating and heartwarming reports are captured in this seemless narrative that assures them, at last, their rightful place in history.

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Review:

The women who served as combat correspondents in World War II were a capable, gutsy, and inquisitive bunch. Their bravery snapping photos from bomb-laden B-17s over North Africa or interviewing blood-soaked soldiers fresh from Iwo Jima was matched only by their pluck in overcoming sexist double standards and patronizing attitudes. To a one, they were determined to prove their mettle at a time when "few newspaperwomen had made it from the society desk into the newsroom," as author Nancy Caldwell Sorel points out. Sorel (whose witty First Encounters appeared in The Atlantic for years) tracked down dozens of these women, most well into or past their 70s, and has combined candid interviews with rigorous research to piece together their amazing wartime stories.

The Women Who Wrote the War follows the chronology of the conflict through the reporters' eyes, beginning as early as a 1931 interview of Hitler by Dorothy Thompson Lewis (wife of Sinclair), in which she called the future Führer "inconsequent ... voluble, ill-poised, insecure." (Shortly after her "Little Man" rose to power, she would be expelled.) Tough and opinionated Collier's correspondent Martha Gellhorn, another reporter married to a famous writer, frustrated her new husband, Ernest Hemingway, shortly after D-Day--defying military orders, she sneaked onto the beaches of Normandy just ahead of him, pitching in as a stretcher-bearer to get her story. Gripping and well documented, Sorel's work ably captures the excitement of both the war and the exploits of the women who reported on it. --Paul Hughes

About the Author:

Nancy Caldwell Sorel has been a regular feature writer for the Atlantic Monthly and a contributor to Esquire, GQ, Forbes, and the New York Times Book Review.Her other books include World People, Ever SinceEve: Reflections on Childbirth , and First Encounters. She lives in New York City.

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