YOU DON’T BELONG HERE WAS NAMED WINNER OF HARVARD’S GOLDSMITH AWARD
“I’ve read widely on that ill-conceived war (Vietnam). If there is one book that will transport you back to that time, that will give you a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground in Southeast Asia, this book is it.”
—Tom Patterson presenting Elizabeth Becker with the 2022 Goldsmith Award for the best book of 2022 on politics, policy and media.
YOU DON’T BELONG HERE was named a best book of 2021 by Foreign Affairs magazine.
Named one of 10 best audio books on history/biography of 2021.
The Women Who Changed War Reporting
By George Packer
“Her theme in You Don’t Belong Here—conveyed, with controlled anger, in a riveting narrative using unpublished letters and diaries—is that women reporters changed the way the war was covered.”
“Becker conveys the particular sacrifices that these three women had to make: the indignities, the psychological cost, the elusiveness of stable relationships and children. Still, it’s exhilarating to read Becker’s account of how these women overcame the narrow definitions of their early lives and found themselves by surrendering to the extreme demands of reporting a war.” READ MORE
Three groundbreaking journalists saw the Vietnam War differently. It’s no coincidence they were women.
By Margaret Sullivan
“Half a century later, the work of these journalists remains inspiring. So is Becker’s clearsighted book, which puts us at the scene, with the advantage of decades of hindsight and her own deep experience. If there’s a wasted or boring word here, I couldn’t find it”. READ MORE
Three female journalists who braved the chaos of Vietnam
“Becker not only shines a light on the contributions of those correspondents – along with the risks they took to show and tell the raw truths of the war as they saw it – but provides a valuable depth of cultural and historical insight into the conflict.
“Another crucial layer emerges as the narrative progresses, and that is the parallel story of American political naïveté in committing a military with a World War II mind-set to a war against a people whose history and culture – and ways of fighting – they made little attempt to comprehend.”
YOU DON’T BELONG HERE is deserving of a wide readership.” READ MORE
How 3 Women Broke Into the Uber-Macho World of War Reporting
By Janine Di Giovanni
“In Becker’s compelling book, three extraordinary women—Catherine Leroy, Frances “Frankie” FitzGerald, and Kate Webb—arrive in Vietnam at the height of the war to try to depict the conflict in unique ways. Each is determined to make her mark and to make the war her own. Each becomes captivated by the country, drawn in deeply, and committed to the people and culture. They are equally appalled by the horror of the atrocities and intent on bringing to light the murky U.S. foreign policy in the region.
“She writes beautifully of the heartache the women suffer, their struggles to be taken seriously, the guffaws, the catcalls, the daily small humiliations that amounted to the French photographer’s fierce indictment: You don’t belong here.
“But they did belong. And the proof is their legacy.” READ MORE
By Lawrence D. Freedman
“Becker, who made her name reporting on war in Cambodia and the rise of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, delivers an enthralling biography of three female war correspondents who preceded her in Southeast Asia, reporting on the Vietnam War.
Becker blends their individual stories with wider history, setting the unfolding tragedy in Vietnam in the background as her protagonists develop doubts about the logic and legitimacy of the war.” READ MORE
Becker deftly weaves her own story into the tapestry. “Nothing in my short life had ever mattered as much as witnessing Cambodia’s war as a reporter”, she writes. “I had never felt more alive, more involved, or more vulnerable. I had crossed a line and made a commitment to Cambodia that would be costly.” That cost would include her own experience with captivity, the loss of friends and colleagues, and the heartbreak of witnessing impending genocide. READ MORE
Three saw war, heroism from different perspective
These woman journalists showed sides of the decade-long Vietnam War that their male counterparts didn’t cover
By Mike Tharp
“To do shorthand violence to this memorable work, it might be said that the male correspondents focused on the blood and guts of Vietnam. Webb, FitzGerald and Leroy focused on the hearts and minds.”
“Becker transforms what could have been a good book into a prize-worthy page-turner of tension, suspense and drama. The tone of the book intensifies with each chapter (all deftly named). Becker never loses sight of her goal to illuminate these women in the larger context of America’s biggest foreign policy disaster of the 20th century.” READ MORE
Becker, who began her journalistic career covering Pol Pot’s rise to power in Cambodia, turns her focus to her female colleagues in Vietnam, plucking out the stories of an American, an Australian, and a French journalist. Becker draws on letters and interviews to tell the stories of women plunged into a mostly male world, where they encountered Western sexism in equal or greater measure than that which they’d already known in their home countries. READ MORE
Le Monde, the great French newspaper, published two pages about the rediscovery of Catherine Leroy, centering the article on YOU DON’T BELONG HERE, calling it “tremendous.” READ MORE
“This group biography is told with the clear poignancy that characterizes Becker’s reporting. And it brings to the fore the compassionate witness that Becker, and the three women who “rewrote the story of war,” brought to the conflict.” READ MORE
The Journal of America’s Military Past
“Elizabeth Becker’s fine book is a wonderful portrayal of their unstoppable courage and determination. This book is recommended for historians of all wars and is a haunting mirror by which we can try to understand the long war concluding in our own time.”
By Deborah Hopkinson
“Many barriers were eventually broken, thanks in part to the extraordinary women Becker profiles so adroitly here, combining their personal histories with the major events of the conflict……You Don’t Belong Here is a significant contribution to the history of both the Vietnam War and women in journalism.” READ MORE
5 Hot Books: Iconic Women War Correspondents, the Cost of Racism, and More
You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of Warby Elizabeth Becker (PublicAffairs) Group biography at its best, Becker’s book brings to life its trio of intrepid female journalists who redefined the role of women in war reporting and enhanced appreciation of the nuances of the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The trio were the brilliant magazine writer Frances FitzGerald, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fire in the Lake; stunning photographer Catherine Leroy; and fierce combat reporter Kate Webb. Becker contends that these journalists transformed the war story: “They were outsiders – excluded by nature from the confines of male journalism, with all its presumptions and easy jingoism.” A journalist herself, Becker followed the trail blazed by these women in Southeast Asia, reporting on the war from Cambodia, which gives her a unique, nuanced understanding of the region’s landscape and dynamics.” READ MORE
‘I saw things differently than men’: Elizabeth Becker on covering war in Cambodia
By Allegra Mendelson
The Cambodian conflict of the 1970s was predominantly told through the male lens. But Elizabeth Becker, as one of the few women journalists reporting on the frontline, endeavoured to cast a light on the female experience of war. READ MORE
PICK OF THE WEEK
You Don’t Belong Here
Elizabeth Becker, Black Inc, $32.99
Reporting on the Vietnam War was a tough gig in itself. But the three women reporters featured in this heady history were also fighting a war against prejudices of their colleagues, the military and society in general about women’s fitness to report on war. While from very different backgrounds, French photographer Catherine Leroy, American journalist Frances FitzGerald and Australian reporter Kate Webb were gutsy mavericks who kept a low profile and went their own way. Leroy jumped with paratroopers to shoot a major airborne offensive, Webb was captured by the North Vietnamese and survived to tell her tale and FitzGerald sought the bigger picture behind the frontline. All brought a fresh lens to the war and never lost sight of the unfolding human tragedy beyond the politics.—The Age/Sydney Morning Herald
‘It is as engaging to read as it is critically enlightening in these times.’ —Raymond Bonner, The Australian
‘Becker weaves together a wonderful and compelling picture of determination, talent and sacrifice that changed the face of journalism.’ —Herald Sun
‘The women who went there [Vietnam War] set a new standard for reporting, developing a deeper, more humane way of writing about war and its terrible, needless suffering.’ —Inside Story
‘The untold stories of three brilliant female journalists – Aussie, French and US – who challenged taboos as war reporters.’ —Australian Women’s Weekly
‘Their [Leroy, FitzGerald & Webb] exploits make for thrilling reading and in the process the history of the 19-year conflict takes on a new significance.’ —Australian Country Style
The Herald Sun (Australia)
Saturday 15th May 202
Pioneering Trio Who Helped Pave the Way
You would have thought that by the late ’60s and early ’70s women would have been seen as equals and comrades in journalism. But as foreign and war correspondents, they were told they were not made for the job. Had the men who tried to block French photographer Catherine Leroy, the American Frances FitzGerald and renowned Australian journalist Kate Webb from covering the Vietnam War and other conflicts never heard of their frontline predecessors Nelly Bly, Margaret Bourke-White and Martha Gellhorn? Probably not. Whether the men who tried to keep them on the “women’s pages” were being paternalistic or misogynistic, they failed miserably to deter these and other women. The multiple biography is a difficult genre in which to get the right balance but here Becker weaves together a wonderful and compelling picture of determination, talent and sacrifice that changed the face of journalism.
VERDICT: MAKING HER STORY