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Dickey Chapelle


By Dickey Chapelle



Chapelle, Dickey. What's a Woman Doing Here? (Nabu Press, 2011).

This is a reproduction of the 1962 volume originally published by William Morrow and Company.  In addition to this new publication, the original text can be obtained online.



Ostroff, Roberta. Fire in the Wind (Bluejacket Books, 2001).

Free-lance journalist Ostroff (Rolling Stone, Reader's Digest, etc.) offers an engaging biography of feisty combat reporter/ photographer Dickey Chapelle--the first American woman journalist killed in action. Born Georgette Louise Meyer in 1920, Chapelle grew up in a staid midwestern suburb where she spent her youth dreaming of flying airplanes and emulating her hero, Admiral Richard Byrd (she changed her first name to match his). After unceremoniously flunking out of M.I.T. and failing a course in flight instruction, she turned her energies to journalism and soon met her future husband, photographer Tony Chapelle, who taught her much about photography and wartime reportage. From then on, Chapelle was on her way, determined to be where the action was (``eyeballing history,'' she called it). Despite many rejections from the military (unused to having a woman at the front) and from the New York publishing establishment, Chapelle managed to cover most of the major wars and battles of the 20th century: Iwo Jima, the 1956 Hungarian uprising (when she spent five weeks in a Budapest prison), Cuba, Korea, Lebanon, Laos, and Vietnam, where she was killed while covering a platoon on patrol. Always an outspoken eccentric, with a voice like a ``marine drill sergeant,'' Chapelle was a tiny woman known for her signature uniform--fatigues, an Australian bush hat, dramatic Harlequin glasses, and pearl earrings--and her refusal to kowtow to authority. Ostroff chronicles her life with easy, workmanlike skill, drawing on interviews with those who knew her and on her extensive correspondence, articles, and reporter's notes. And while the author does not attempt to examine Chapelle's life so much as straightforwardly report it, she does provide moments of analysis and insight. A solid if not profound biography of a remarkable woman whose life story has been sorely neglected. (Two eight-page photo inserts--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


Chapelle, Dickey. How Planes Get There (Harper Brothers, 1944). 

How Planes Get There is part of the young America's aviation library.  A number of other books written by Dickey Chapelle, Girls at Work in Aviation (1943), Needed: Women in Government Service (1942) and others, though out of print, can still be found.

About Dickey Chapelle and Other Women War Photojournalists: Non-Fiction



Coleman, Penny. Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2002).

The only foreign photographer in the Soviet Union when Hitler's troops invaded in 1941, "Adolf Hitler's greatest enemy," the first journalist to enter the concentration camp at Dachau before American troops arrived to liberate it--these are descriptions of some of the courageous World War II correspondents who risked their lives to report on the outrage, devastation, and hope of war. What makes them especially notable is that they are all women. Penny Colman's remarkable book tells of some of the 127 women who defied the traditional gender barrier to become accredited war correspondents. Reporting on Iwo Jima, concentration camps, famous battles, and Nazi rallies, stellar writers and photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White and Clare Boothe Luce scooped many of their male colleagues, and gave the folks back home a real image of war. Breathtaking photographs, actual newspaper dispatches, and edge-of-seat descriptions of the near misses the correspondents experienced as they followed the war make this book the ultimate for girls in search of girl power inspiration. Penny Colman is the author of many award-winning titles, including Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II and Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America. (Ages 11 and older) --Emilie Coulter for Amazon



Gourley, Catherine. War, Women and the News (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007).

Grade 6–8—Gourley's passion is sharper than her focus in this introduction to more than a dozen writers and journalists who "refused to be left behind." After opening with a glimpse of photographer Dickey Chapelle, who convinced a reluctant colonel that the lack of women's "facilities" in a war zone would be a solvable issue, the author launches into a lengthy but incidental account of how the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression opened the door a crack for female field investigators and "sob sisters," some of whom, though dismissively transformed into "paper dolls" or "newshens," courageously followed the GIs overseas in pursuit of the story. Darting from Europe to the Pacific and back (with a stop to record Dorothea Lange's long-suppressed coverage of the displacement of Japanese Americans on the West Coast), Gourley provides an overview of major events, but only fragmentary looks at what her subjects actually experienced or wrote. There are also frequent disconnects between the narrative and accompanying pictures; some pictures are tantalizingly described but not reproduced, others are irrelevant or details of shots shown later in full, and a quote inset into a view of German soldiers marching through Warsaw specifically refers to other-than-Polish refugees. Capped by massive resource lists, this is a worthy work, but more loosely organized and less likely to intrigue readers than Penny Colman's Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II (Crown, 2002).—John Peters, New York Public Library; Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



Mander, Mary S. Pen and Sword: American War Correspondents (University of Illinois, 2010).

ddressing the ever-changing, overlapping trajectories of war and journalism, this introduction to the history and culture of modern American war correspondence considers a wealth of original archival material. In powerful analyses of letters, diaries, journals, television news archives, and secondary literature related to the U.S.'s major military conflicts of the twentieth century, Mary S. Mander highlights the intricate relationship of the postmodern nation state to the free press and to the public. Pen and Sword: American War Correspondents, 1898-1975 situates war correspondence within the larger framework of the history of the printing press to make perceptive new points about the nature of journalism and censorship, the institution of the press as a source of organized dissent, and the relationship between the press and the military. Fostering a deeper understanding of the occupational culture of war correspondents who have accompanied soldiers into battle, Mander offers interpretive analysis of the reporters' search for meaning while embedded with troops in war-torn territories. Broadly encompassing the history of Western civilization and modern warfare, Pen and Sword prompts new ways of thinking about contemporary military conflicts and the future of journalism.



Sorel, Nancy Caldwell. The Women Who Wrote the War: The Compelling Story of the Path-breaking Women War Correspondents of World War II (Arcade Publishing Co, 2011).

Nancy Caldwell Sorel has been a regular feature writer for the Atlantic Monthly and a contributor to Esquire, GQ, Forbes, and the New York Times Book Review. Her books include Word People, Ever Since Eve: Reflections on Childbirth, First Encounters, and The Women Who Wrote the War.

About Dickey Chapelle: Fiction



Soli, Tatiana. The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin's Press, 2010).

Why photojournalists play only marginal roles in fiction is a question that throughly troubles me. I, for one, believe they live more interesting lives than lawyers, academics or scientists, who are constant staples in books. (Full disclaimer: I don’t read ‘novels’ with a shirtless man on their covers, I don’t know whether muscular photographers play an important and steamy role with their nymphette models in these boudoir novels). So it was with mild astonishment that I opened a gift book last week and discovered a photojournalist as the protagonist. The novel was “The Lotus Eaters” by Tatjana Soli, the title being a not-too-subtle reference to an island-dwelling race in “The Odyssey” who eat the opiate fruit of lotus and share it to those who wash ashore, so they won’t want to leave.

The protagonist is Helen Adams, a young photographer from California who starts out as a freelancer and eventually gets a job with Life magazine. In between, she goes to Vietnam, sees all the horrors of war, falls in love with a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Sam Darrow, losses him to the war, takes an iconic photograph, and marries her Vietnamese assistant. By describing Helen’s transformative experience, Soli was comparing addictiveness of war reporting to that of the lotus flower: many journalists who experience the horrors of war ironically refused to go back to their mundane jobs and remained the chroniclers of war, pestilence and famine.

The models for Soli’s characters were real photojournalists of the Vietnam era: Larry Burrows, Sean Flynn, Henri Huet and Catherine Leroy. Even Helen’s last name and iconic photograph she takes, that of a sudden execution of a harmless-looking old man, seems directly borrowed from another famous Vietnam photographer: Eddie Adams. But Helen Adams was clearly based on another photographer, who briefly but spendidly reported on the Vietnam War in the conflict’s early days: Dickey Chapelle.


See from original source: Iconic Photos: Dickey Chapelle



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