New York: Random House, 2002. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This unique and compelling first edition belonged to one of the contributing authors, Tracy Wood, and is inscribed to her by each and every one of her eight female co-authors. These personal inscriptions fill the half-title with one on the facing front free endpaper verso. Additionally, Fawcett, Mariano, Webb, Merick, Kazickas, and Lederer each signed their photographs, which precede their respective chapters.
Condition of this inscribed author’s copy is truly fine, the binding, contents, and dust jacket all pristine with no reportable wear or flaws. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover. The book was acquired from the estate of Tracy Wood.
Spanning over a decade, these stories recall the experience of nine extraordinary women who reported on the Vietnam War: Tad Bartimus, Denby Fawcett, Jurate Kazickas, Edith Lederer, Ann Bryan Mariano, Anne Morrissy Merick, Laura Palmer, Kate Webb, and Tracy Wood. Denby Fawcett, who is currently a Hawaii television and newspaper journalist, recalls at the beginning of her story soldiers saying, “They must have paid you a fortune to come here.” ‘They’ didn’t. In fact, Fawcett made next to nothing initially, and had to stretch meager finances to cover basic necessities. But, like Fawcett, all the writers were drawn there, some on assignment, one following her husband, others on their own dime, one stuffing her suitcase with sundresses and swimsuits—"how do you pack for war?” she asks—others arriving jungle ready, all inexorably drawn to a profoundly fraught, dismal, politically and ethically complex conflict.
To encapsulate this book merely as women reporters struggling in the midst of phallocentric conflict would be both reductive and an invitation to allow the sex of these reporters to eclipse their contributions. But being a non-combatant female in a war zone has its obvious disadvantages, the confrontation of which is a noteworthy feat, particularly half a century ago. Of course the military regularly attempted to curtail their exposure to combat, but the challenges they faced were more than merely institutional; Webb was captured by the Viet Cong and Kazickas was hit in the spine by shrapnel. Both survived to tell their tales here in this book.
At times, the theme and tension of gender punches through the war horror in surprising moments of tenderness and longing, such as when Kazickas writes, "I tried to keep a professional distance, but I could not help being attracted to many of these men, and on nearly every patrol, there would be a soldier with whom I would connect in a special way... Sometimes in the dark we would lie down and watch the distant flashes of artillery, red-and-orange streaks playing havoc with the stars. We'd sneak some cigarettes and sip smuggled Scotch as we whispered stories of our lives through the long night. The sexual tension was intense, delicious, heartbreaking. Yet I was so careful of my reputation, I did not dare allow even our fingers to touch."
War Torn distills and amalgamates the hard-earned perspective of remarkably intrepid women who chose to inhabit a time and place that, for them, presented norms even more hostile than those of mere war. War Torn is charged with stark realities, complicities, courage, and loneliness. While each of these reporters had their own odyssey and story, an unusual bond is also evident – and brought them together between these covers. Testifying to both the collective spirit and individual resolve of these nine women, the words “competitor” and “friend” are both common among the inscriptions to Tracy. The intensity of the bond is perhaps best encapsulated in Tad’s inscription: “Fierce competitor, dedicated journalist, steadfast friend, Saigon Sister & ever faithful.” Perhaps the camaraderie of this collection ameliorated the pain and alienation Kazickas describes in her section: “I had no one I could turn to and talk to about my fear and confusion. I could not make sense of this war, nor did I know why I still wanted to stay.”. Item #006354