WOMEN OF THE WORLD by Julia Edwards


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Fairly amusing and informative tidbits about female foreign correspondents--from Margaret Fuller in the 1840's to Flora Lewis in the 1980's. But, unfortunately, the tidbits--presented by a veteran journalist--don't add up to the well-planned, full-course meal the material warrants and the reader craves. Edwards should have provided psychological penetration, historical perspective, even a political ax to grind--something to string together these numerous accounts of female foreign correspondents. This is not a work of history but a series of sketches, some funny, some skittish, some unclear. There are anecdotes enough to keep you reading about Dorothy Thompson, Martha Gelhorn, Margaret Bourke-White, etc. Ann Stringer, about to have an exclusive interview with Pins XII, realized that she had nothing to cover her head: ""Resourceful in an emergency, she fashioned a cap out of a pair of black lace panties."" Because WW II was such a breakthrough time for women foreign correspondents (not to be equalled again until the 1970's), the bulk of the book is focused on women covering that war, with glances at Fuller in the 19th century, WW I, Korea and Vietnam. It is the heroic individuality of each of these women that Edwards wants to show: ""The foreign correspondents of both sexes were not typical or average; they were exceptional."" The lack of overall coherence might be less disburbing if each of the accounts were a box beautifully constructed and stuffed with insights. Unfortunately, Edwards has an irritating propensity towards melodrama that tires. Overall, interesting but thin.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1988
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin