The Journalist: Life and Loss in America's Secret War Book Review

This year marks the 45th anniversary on April 30th of the end of the Vietnam War and the 65th anniversary, on November 1, of its beginning. While many of us have read stories and accounts from Vietnam soldiers or families of those soldiers--I have had the opportunity to read and review something a little different this week! The Journalist: Life and Loss in America's Secret War follows the story of one of the first American journalists to cover the events in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Jerry A. Rose shared visions and stories of the war before most Americans knew there was a war--and his sister, author Lucy Rose Fischer brings Jerry's personal story to readers in this new book. What did I think of The Journalist: Life and Loss in America's Secret War by Jerry A. Rose and Lucy Rose Fischer? Read my thoughts and learn about the authors in this book review feature.

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About the Book

 In the early 1960s, Jerry Rose, a writer and artist, travels to Vietnam to teach English and gather material for his writing. Almost accidentally, he becomes one of America’s most important war correspondents. He interviews Vietnamese villagers in a countryside riddled by a war of terror and embeds himself with soldiers on the ground—the start of a dramatic and dangerous career. Through his stories and photographs, he exposes the secret beginnings of America’s Vietnam War at a time when most Americans have not yet heard of Vietnam. His writing is described as “war reporting that ranks with the best of Ernest Hemingway and Ernie Pyle.” 


In spring 1965, Jerry agrees to serve as an advisor to the Vietnamese government at the invitation of his friend and former doctor, who is the new Prime Minister. He hopes to use his deep knowledge of the country to help Vietnam. In September 1965, while on a trip to investigate corruption in the provinces of Vietnam, Jerry dies in a plane crash in Vietnam. 


Now, more than half a century later, his sister, Lucy Rose Fischer, has drawn on her late brother’s journals, letters, and other writings to craft his story. She has written this memoir in “collaboration” with her late brother—giving the term “ghostwritten” a whole new meaning. 


My Review


The Journalist Shares a Vivid, First Hand Account of the Vietnam War. As Lucy Rose Fischer shares her brother's story--readers are treated to hearing his personal perspectives via his journals and memoirs and historical publications and memories of the times. The journalist's views bring light to the war's human experiences that differ from most accounts I have read. As a memoir fan and a history lover--reading the authors' collaboration brought a very unique image to the early years of the Vietnam War. Lucy Rose Fischer does a beautiful job bringing her brother's stories to life in an order that is very engaging and educational to readers.


The Novel Shares a War Journalist's Life.  We often forget the roles that journalists have played in sharing and exposing events and details of wars and conflicts around the world. This novel chronicles the passion and desire that drove Jerry A. Rose to investigate the Vietnam War. The personal insights into the journalist and his personal/professional life bring a unique perspective to the realities of war--and the often-overlooked casualties. 


Would I Recommend The Journalist: Life and Loss in America's Secret War by Jerry A. Rose and Lucy Rose Fischer? I love memoirs--and, over the past year, I have read several books focused on accounts of the Vietnam War. I loved the way that Lucy Rose Fischer shared her brother's story and reflected on the life and loss of her brother and a reporter with an award-winning eye for stories. If you enjoy memoirs and have an interest in accounts of the Vietnam War--I think this book should undoubtedly be on your reading list.  

 Buy the Book


 About the Authors


Jerry A. Rose published feature articles and photographs in TIME, The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, New Republic, The Reporter, and other news venues. He authored two books: Reported to be Alive and Face of Anguish, a book of his photographs. He was one of the most accomplished journalists of his time. 



Lucy Rose Fischer, Jerry’s younger sister, an award-winning Minnesota author, artist, and social scientist, is the author of five previous books: Linked Lives: Adult Daughters and Their Mothers; Older Minnesotans; Older Volunteers; I’m New at Being Old; and Grow Old With Me, as well as more than 100 professional research articles. She has a PhD in sociology and an MA in Asian Studies. 

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