WINNER OF THE 2022 GOLDSMITH BOOK PRIZE
The long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the barriers to women covering war. Kate Webb, an Australian iconoclast, Catherine Leroy, a French daredevil photographer, and Frances FitzGerald, a blue-blood American intellectual, arrived in Vietnam with starkly different life experiences but one shared purpose: to report on the most consequential story of the decade. At a time when women were considered unfit to be foreign reporters, Frankie, Catherine, and Kate challenged the rules imposed on them by the military, ignored the belittlement of their male peers, and ultimately altered the craft of war reportage for generations.
In You Don’t Belong Here, Elizabeth Becker uses these women’s work and lives to illuminate the Vietnam War from the 1965 American buildup, the expansion into Cambodia, and the American defeat and its aftermath. Arriving herself in the last years of the war, Becker writes as a historian and a witness of the times.
What emerges is an unforgettable story of three journalists forging their place in a land of men, often at great personal sacrifice. Deeply reported and filled with personal letters, interviews, and profound insight, You Don’t Belong Here fills a void in the history of women and of war.
Journalist Becker (Overbooked) delivers a crisp and incisive group biography of three women who battled sexism and broke new ground while reporting on the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, French photojournalist Catherine Leroy rode a bicycle into the Communist-occupied city of Hue and took the first pictures of North Vietnamese Army soldiers in South Vietnam (the photos appeared on the cover of Life magazine). Frances FitzGerald, the daughter of a CIA deputy director, circulated among the American elite in South Vietnam, Becker notes, but her reporting, which culminated in the book Fire in the Lake, centered on Vietnamese history and culture and explored how America's "ham-fisted policies" delegitimized its allies in South Vietnam. In 1971, North Vietnamese soldiers in Cambodia took Australian reporter Kate Webb prisoner and held her for more than two weeks, leading to erroneous reports of her death. Becker, who also reported from Cambodia in the 1970s, fluidly sketches the history and politics of the Vietnam War and captures her subjects in all their complexity. Readers interested in women's history and foreign affairs won't be able to put this fascinating chronicle down. Photos.