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Dickey Chapelle Under Fire: Photographs by the First American Female War Correspondent Killed in Action by John Garofolo

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Hardcover, 136 pgs.
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Dickey Chapelle Under Fire: Photographs by the First American Female War Correspondent Killed in Action by John Garofolo, which includes a foreword by former Washington Post war correspondent Jackie Spinner, is dedicated to the brave men and women who serve the United States, which also includes those war correspondents who risk their lives right alongside those with the weapons to uphold freedom.  Their weapons may be different — pens and cameras versus guns and grenades — but both serve their country and the cause of freedom with devotion.  In the foreword, Spinner indicates that when Dickey Chapelle died in Vietnam, she died as a Marine because that’s how the marines who were by her side thought of her.  She started her career young, present at the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in WWII, experiencing the reconstruction of Europe after WWII, and traveling to nations in which rebellions were bloody and devastating before she reached the front lines of the Vietnam War in her 40s.

“I grew up in the heartland of the United States.  I believed that I could do anything I really wanted to do and I still believe it. … But I am going to condition it.  You can do anything you want to do if you want to do it so badly you’ll give up everything else to do it,” Dickey Chapelle said. (Fire in the Wind by Robert Ostroff)

Georgette Louise Meyer, later known as Dickey, was born in Wisconsin and she dreamed of flying.  While she did eventually take flying lessons against her parents’ wishes, she wasn’t that great at it.  She was great at telling stories and seeking out those stories around military installations.  Her passion for stories led her to flunk out of MIT, and while she did return home and later moved to Florida, she soon found herself in New York City at age 18, writing for Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA) in the publicity bureau.  Taking photography lessons on the side with Tony Chapelle led to a new career and husband.  She soon became a war correspondent during WWII so that she could travel with her husband, a WWI veteran who re-enlisted.

“The wreckage resulting from man’s inhumanity to man … was the litany I wrote and the subject I photographed.  And the magnitude of relief devised never matched the magnitude of the suffering caused,” said Chapelle in What’s a Woman Doing Here?

Garofolo has selected and organized Chapelle’s photographs in such a way that they will have readers running the gamut of emotions.  Among the WWII photographs, Chapelle captures not only the immense suffering of a solder caught in a fire during a mine explosion — he was severely burned — but she also highlights some of the happier moments for soldiers, like when they received mail from home or were able to finally shave after gunfire stopped.  The moments when soldiers are smiling or doing mundane activities are those that remind us that these soldiers are people, not machines.  Not all of her work was on the battlefront, Chapelle also found herself drawn to relief work in a variety of countries, and this work still placed her in a great deal of danger, including her own capture by Russians near the Austria-Hungary border.

Dickey Chapelle Under Fire: Photographs by the First American Female War Correspondent Killed in Action by John Garofolo is a book dedicated to the memory of not only Chapelle’s body of work, courage, and dream of flying, but also to the women and men who suffered greatly in wars and conflicts across the globe — whether they were soldiers, nurses, or refugees.  My first book for the Best of 2016 list.

About the Author:

John Garofolo is a former entertainment industry executive and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A commander in the US Coast Guard Reserve, he has more than twenty-five years of active and reserve military service and taught at the Coast Guard Academy. Thanks to a grant from the Brico Fund through the Milwaukee Press Endowment, he has written a stage adaptation of Dickey Chapelle’s life. John earned a PhD from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and lives with his wife and daughter in Southern California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m calling this my Nonfiction Book about WWII:

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    This sounds fascinating! And already a best book for the year…wow!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I bet that’s stunning, gut wrenching, and heart breaking all at the same time.