As we celebrate more than half of the human race on International Women’s Day—during a time of “fake news” and yet another cycle of escalating human rights violations, prejudice, hate crimes, and a general failure of compassion—we feel moved to pay tribute to women journalists, valiant reporters on life’s many front lines who are dedicated to observing, documenting, and telling stories that are crucial to our being informed and caring participants in the human endeavor.
Below you will find selected recent books by and about women journalists, including biographies, memoirs, dispatches from the field, and even notebooks from the consummate literary journalist, Joan Didion.
The granddaughter of a slave, Dunnigan served as bureau chief for the Associated Negro Press, prevailing over vicious opposition to become the first African American woman to secure press credentials for the Capitol and the White House.
Everybody’s Got Something, by Robin Roberts and Veronica Chambers
When Good Morning America cohost Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she mounted a very public battle. Following her mother’s time-honored advice to “make your mess your message,” Roberts offers an inspiring memoir of her life, from her home base in Mississippi to her home in New York and the glamorous though grueling life of a television reporter.
The Grace of Silence, by Michele Norris
Lauded journalist Norris, cohost for All Things Considered on NPR, intended to write a book analyzing the changing conversation about race in the Obama era. But once she realized that even within her own family, discussions about race were “not completely honest,” she changed course. The result is an investigative family memoir of rare candor and artistry that dramatically reveals essential yet hidden aspects of African American life.
The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria, by Janine Di Giovanni
Di Giovanni returned to Syria many times for various publications, including the New York Times and Vanity Fair, to report on a country embroiled in civil war. With a potent mix of sensitivity and outrage, di Giovanni relates firsthand accounts of deprivation and suffering from the people caught up in the conflict.
In a business that continues to be overwhelmingly male-dominated, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour have carved out extraordinary careers for themselves, breaking barriers for women in television reporting. Best-selling author Weller draws on interviews with their friends and colleagues to offer portraits of the will and ambition each mustered to achieve iconic status.
The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities, by Soledad O’Brien and Rose Arce
O’Brien is the child of a black Cuban mother and white Australian father, and her heritage informed every step of her personal and professional voyage from an isolated suburban Long Island childhood to the catbird’s seat at CNN’s anchor desk. O’Brien chronicles her early years in broadcast journalism as well as her present position as one of cable news’ most respected correspondents.
Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia, by Anne Garrels
For more than 20 years, veteran NPR correspondent Garrels has enjoyed rare, if not entirely unfettered, access to the quotidian as well as the unorthodox aspects of post-USSR society. Using the city of Chelyabinsk as her base, Garrels interviews everyone to paint a complex and nuanced portrait of a culture coming to grips with the realities of the twenty-first century in a nation ruled by the mercurial and often malevolent Vladimir Putin.
South and West: From a Notebook, by Joan Didion
Didion’s first essay collection contains the piquantly revealing “On Keeping a Notebook,” in which this now-revered master of incision and evocation confides, “the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record.” Instead, Didion asserts, it’s an effort to record: “How it felt to me.” That is the power of her work—her ability to precisely articulate feelings, atmosphere, and undercurrents, a gift on striking display in this slender volume made up of two sustained notebook excerpts.
Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Last Assignment, by Paul Conroy
In February 2012, American foreign-war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed by artillery fire in Syria. Conroy, Colvin’s photographer, was with her and was nearly killed as well. In this tense, hour-by-hour account, he takes readers back to Syria and the events that led to their being behind the battle lines.