Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

War, Women, and the News: How female journalists won the battle to cover World W

War, Women, and the News: How female journalists won the battle to cover World W

Catherine Gourley
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-0689877520

In the early 1940's if you were a woman who wanted to become a war correspondent, you had to be prepared for a battle. The battle was not with the enemy but with people who did not want women covering the news in battle zones. It did not matter if the women were brilliant, or skilled, or if they knew foreign languages and had experience in foreign countries. If you were female you had a black mark next to your name.

This black mark did not stop some women from determinedly pursuing a career in wartime journalism however. They defied their bosses and the military establishment and they insisted on going to the front, seeing what there was to see, interviewing people, and writing stories that told people what was going on. They also wrote stories about the home front, they wrote about the men and women who planted food, and built planes, and they walked the halls in Congress finding out what was going on. Some reporters in Europe used the printed word to fight back against the Nazis, daring to defy them and to help the resistance cause.

Therese Bonny risked her life in numerous European countries to go on what she called "truth raids." Her photographs revealed, with stark clarity, what was happening in Europe and what Hitler was doing. Anyone who saw her pictures could not pretend that Hitler was a benign man who was a lover of peace.

Shelley Mydans was a terrific writer and she and her husband Carl, who was a superb photographer, were sent to China by Life magazine to cover the war there. From there the couple went to the Philippines which is where they were when the Japanese invaded in 1941. Shelley and Carl refused to work for the Japanese and as a result they spent many miserable months in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Thankfully they were released in 1943 and made it home alive.

These are just a few of the stories about women reporters that readers will find within the pages of this excellent book. Presented in a newspaper style format and packed with period photographs and quotes, readers will learn not only about how women fought to have the right to report the war news, but they will also learn a great deal about the years before, during, and after the war. Through the stories of Dickey Chapelle, Dorothea Lange, Toni Friselle, Martha Gellhorn, and others, readers will get a very interesting picture of what was happening in the world when these women were doing their valuable work.

This title is a marvelous tribute to the women who dared to prove that women reporters could do much more than write "fluff" pieces.