The best books on women journalists working in dangerous places

Why am I passionate about this?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 

I wrote...

Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources

By K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner

Book cover of Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources

What is my book about?

Part of the Essential Primary Source series by K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, et al., that critics described as well-written, thoughtful and cogent. Individual volumes topically related to issues provide historical context and insights into people, places, and issues still dominating news headlines as well as the scholars, journalists and other experts who document history in the making. The series covers Terrorism; Medicine, Health, and Bioethics; Environmental Issues; Crime and Punishment;  Government, Politics, and Protest; Gender Issues and Sexuality; Human and Civil Rights; Immigration and Multiculturalism; Social Policy, and more.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How to Avoid Being Killed in a Warzone

K. Lee Lerner Why did I love this book?

British army officer turned foreign correspondent for the BBC and Al Jazeera, Rosie Garthwaite has worked in some the world's toughest and most dangerous areas. In her book, How to Avoid Being Killed in a War Zone, Garthwaite offers practical tips for journalists, aid workers, business travelers, and others who find themselves caught up in the chaos of conflict and violence in volatile regions. More than a survival guide to tell you how to avoid landmines or amputate a bomb-shattered leg, the book is infused with Garthwaite's simultaneously intelligent, harrowing, and wry takes on perils she faced when working in Basra in Iraq and other hotspots.

By Rosie Garthwaite,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Avoid Being Killed in a Warzone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone needs this book if they want to know how to get out of difficult situations whether at home or abroad. Written by Rosie Garthwaite, whose career as a journalist started in war-torn Basra, this book combines practical advice with contributions from many journalists and commentators including Rageh Omar and John Simpson, who share their own experience and advice on surviving in difficult and dangerous situations. Topics include how to avoid being misunderstood; how to avoid bombs and booby traps; how to escape from a riot; how to deal with frostbite and heat exhaustion; how to avoid trouble in sex,…


Book cover of You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

K. Lee Lerner Why did I love this book?

Veteran war correspondent Elizabeth Becker, who wrote about covering the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in her book, When the War Was Over, now documents the stories of three women journalists who defied both bias and danger to cover the Vietnam War. Becker reveals how photojournalist Frances FitzGerald and reporters Kate Webb and Catherine Leroy struggled against special restrictions placed on them by military commanders, uncooperative male peers, and the perils of war to set new standards of excellence for all journalists engaged in the craft of reporting on wars and conflicts in dangerous places.

By Elizabeth Becker,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked You Don't Belong Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The long buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the official and cultural barriers to women covering war.

Kate Webb, an Australian iconoclast, Catherine Leroy, a French dare devil 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 paid their own way to war, arrived without jobs, challenged the rules imposed on them by the military, ignored the belittlement and…


Book cover of On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin

K. Lee Lerner Why did I love this book?

On the Front Line is an award-winning collection of stories by veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin. Prior to being targeted for assassination by the Syrian government in February 2012 while she covered the civil war there, Colvin's career and writing showed peerless courage in the pursuit of stories that revealed the inhumanities of war and civil strife. The book contains insightful accounts of interviews of Arafat and Gadaffi as well as her intimate reporting of fighting in Kosovo, Chechnya, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the chaos of the Arab Spring uprisings. Blinded in one eye shrapnel while reporting on the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers, Colvin's style and legendary courage live on in this select collection of her work.

By Marie Colvin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Front Line as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Veteran Sunday Times war correspondent, Marie Colvin was killed in February 2012 when covering the uprising in Syria.

On the Front Line is an Orwell Special Prize winning journalism collection from veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin, who is the subject of the movie A Private War, starring Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan.

Marie Colvin held a profound belief in the pursuit of truth, and the courage and humanity of her work was deeply admired. On the Front Line includes her various interviews with Yasser Arafat and Colonel Gadaffi; reports from East Timor in 1999 where she shamed the UN into…


Book cover of Disappeared: A Journalist Silenced

K. Lee Lerner Why did I love this book?

June Carolyn Erlick, editor-in-chief for ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America, casts a seasoned journalist’s eye on the 1980 abduction of  Guatemalan journalist Irma Flaquer. Returning home, Flaquer was pulled from her car and was never seen again. Flaquer, a popular and respected journalist with an influential column, Lo Que Otros Callan or "What Others Don't Dare Write",  was also the founder of the first Guatemalan Human Rights Commission. Throughout her career, Flaquer survived beatings, car bombs, and drive-by assassination attempts that did not daunt her from doing her job as a reporter to expose Guatemalan suffering at the hands of their corrupt U.S.-backed government and the cost the Guatemalan people paid as Cold War pawns.

By June Carolyn Erlick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disappeared as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"If I die, don't cry for me—because I was fighting for what I love."—Irma Flaquer

On a quiet October evening in 1980, Guatemalan journalist Irma Flaquer, returning to her downtown apartment after a visit with her four-year-old grandson, was dragged from her car, never to be seen again. Founder of the first Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, she was a crusading reporter who did not tolerate corruption or repression. Best known for her weekly column that ran for over twenty years in various Guatemalan newspapers—Lo Que Otros Callan or "What Others Don't Dare Write"—Flaquer criticized presidents, politicians, and the heads of…


Book cover of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

K. Lee Lerner Why did I love this book?

Lynsey Addario, a MacArthur Genius Grant winner, has spent a career finding truth through the lens of her camera. After documenting the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., she braved danger to reveal both Taliban cruelties and the devastation caused by the chaotic war waged by the U.S. that followed. Addario's book. It's What I Do is more than just the inspirational personal story of a woman photojournalist, it provides witness to the horrors and injustice of war in hotspots like Iraq, Darfur, and the Congo. Her account of her kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces during the Libyan civil war exposes the dangers photojournalists face in dangerous places.

By Lynsey Addario,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked It's What I Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An unflinching memoir . . . [that] offers insight into international events and the challenges faced by the journalists who capture them.” —The Washington Post

War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling.

Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young…


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Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

Book cover of Rewriting Illness

Elizabeth Benedict

New book alert!

What is my book about?

What happens when a novelist with a “razor-sharp wit” (Newsday), a “singular sensibility” (Huff Post), and a lifetime of fear about getting sick finds a lump where no lump should be? Months of medical mishaps, coded language, and Doctors who don't get it.

With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling artistry of an acclaimed novelist, Elizabeth Benedict recollects her cancer diagnosis after discovering multiplying lumps in her armpit. In compact, explosive chapters, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity, she chronicles her illness from muddled diagnosis to “natural remedies,” to debilitating treatments, as she gathers sustenance from family, an assortment of urbane friends, and a fearless “cancer guru.”

Rewriting Illness is suffused with suspense, secrets, and the unexpected solace of silence.

Rewriting Illness

By Elizabeth Benedict,

What is this book about?

By turns somber and funny but above all provocative, Elizabeth Benedict's Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own is a most unconventional memoir. With wisdom, self-effacing wit, and the story-telling skills of a seasoned novelist, she brings to life her cancer diagnosis and committed hypochondria. As she discovers multiplying lumps in her armpit, she describes her initial terror, interspersed with moments of self-mocking levity as she indulges in "natural remedies," among them chanting Tibetan mantras, drinking shots of wheat grass, and finding medicinal properties in chocolate babka. She tracks the progression of her illness from muddled diagnosis to debilitating treatment…


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