Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Five best portraits of women's lives

At the Wall Street Journal, author Stacy Schiff (Cleopatra) named a five best list of books about women's lives.

One book on the list:
Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn
Edited by Caroline Moorehead (2006)

'It is quite a job being a woman, isn't it?" Martha Gellhorn grumbled, in an April 1944 letter. She was at the time Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. Her correspondent was Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt. Gellhorn, a fine war correspondent, was in an unjolly state of mind; she believed that she was about to miss out on the Allied landings in France. (The U.S. Army did not allow women reporters at the front. Gellhorn smuggled herself to Normandy anyway, aboard a hospital ship.) A Bryn Mawr drop-out, she reported on the Spanish Civil War; saw and was changed forever by Dachau; covered the Eichmann trial; flew to Saigon in 1966. Always she wrestled with the competing demands of life and work. As for the rest, she was clear: "I knew what I wanted to do and went ahead doing it," she noted, casting a skeptical glance at feminism. What she wanted more than anything else was to be courageous, and she was, as graceful under pressure as on the page. She knew what she liked: laughter, words, honesty, men. She disliked tyranny, pretension, lies, sex. She couldn't cook, but oh could she write.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue