In April 1961, Beverly Deepe, four years out of Nebraska and three years out of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, set off for a trip around the world. Reaching Hong Kong, she was told by the Associated Press bureau chief, “Things are really heating up in Vietnam.” She went there and stayed for seven years, freelancing and working for Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Herald Tribune. This memoir, written more than 40 years later but crisp and well-documented, recounts without self-pity or self-aggrandizement the catastrophes of a terrible war that she covered on the ground—among them the Tet offensive of 1968, the siege of Khe Sanh, and the battle of Hue. She saves for last the revelation that Pham Xuan An, who had worked with her (and other Americans) as a kind of assistant reporter for years, was not only a hard-working journalist but a Communist spy—as she found out in 1990. Yet, she believes, An never undermined her reporting and did his share of the work. The several books on Vietnam correspondents tend not to include Beverly Deepe among the journalistic bigfoots of the war, but this book is evidence that she understood what she saw and reported it honestly.

 

James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.