Denby Fawcett

Mission Memorial Auditorium
Sunday, May 6, 1:00 pm
Introducing Janny Scott, author of A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother

Denby Fawcett is a veteran newspaper and television journalist. She co-authored War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam(Random House, 2002), a book about her and eight other women reporters who covered the Vietnam War. Fawcett is a graduate of Punahou School, Columbia University and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She has been inducted into the Associated Press Television Radio Association’s Hall of Fame for a lifetime of achievement. Denby lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband, MidWeek columnist Bob Jones.

Title of latest book: War Torn: The Personal Experiences of Women Reporters in the Vietnam War

Genre: Nonfiction: media, war, women’s studies
Random House; August 20, 2002
Hardback; $11.99; 320 pages
Kindle, Nook, iTunes: $11.99
Excerpt available to read online

The book: For the first time, nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their professional and deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked, and loved surrounded by war. Their stories span a decade of America’s involvement in Vietnam, from the earliest days of the conflict until the last U.S. helicopters left Saigon in 1975.

They were gutsy risk-takers who saw firsthand what most Americans knew only from their morning newspapers or the evening news. Many had very particular reasons for going to Vietnam—some had to fight and plead to go—but others ended up there by accident. What happened to them was remarkable and important by any standard. Their lives became exciting beyond anything they had ever imagined, and the experience never left them. It was dangerous—one was wounded, and one was captured by the North Vietnamese—but the challenges they faced were uniquely rewarding.

They lived at full tilt, making an impact on all the people around them, from the orphan children in the streets to their fellow journalists and photographers to the soldiers they met and lived with in the field. They experienced anguish and heartbreak—and an abundance of friendship and love. These stories not only introduce a remarkable group of individuals but give an entirely new perspective on the most controversial conflict in our history. Vietnam changed their lives forever. Here they tell about it with all the candor, commitment, and energy that characterized their courageous reporting during the war.

From the hardcover edition:

This book is about our experiences as women reporters covering the Vietnam War from 1966 until the fall of Saigon, in 1975. Each of us has written a chapter about what we saw and felt in Indochina—our adventures, fears, excitement, and the difficulties and loneliness.

Vietnam was a unique war for all journalists, because there was no censorship. The U.S. military provided extraordinary access to combat operations. We could fly on bombing missions, parachute into hostile territory with an airborne unit, spend a week with the Special Forces in the jungle, hitch a ride on a chopper and land amid rocket and artillery as a battle raged, or be taken prisoner like a soldier. This access gave women reporters a chance to show that they could cover combat bravely and honorably, holding their own even under the most frightening and stressful circumstances.

Some of us went on to cover other wars, but there was never any other quite like Vietnam. We are writing about Vietnam now because we feel it is important to keep those agonizing yet strangely exhilarating days alive, those dark days that changed us in ways we are still trying to understand. Many younger Americans know Vietnam only as an abstraction—a few paragraphs in a textbook, a documentary on the History Channel, or as thousands of names on a black granite wall in Washington, D.C. But for those who served and those who suffered, for those who fought and those who watched it unfold on television, Vietnam will always be a part of us.”

Reviews about War Torn or Denby Fawcett:

“(These essays) reach up from the page and grab you by the heart pulling you down into the experience and emotions of those days.”

Los Angeles Times

“This is a wonderful book, exhilarating, poignant, tragic, heroic and above all full of courage. From the very first page I felt proud to follow in these women’s footsteps.”

— Christiane Amanpour, CNN Correspondent

War Torn –– a book Bush should read.”

— Helen Thomas, former UPI White House correspondent.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – today’s date – the guns ceased firing on the Western Front. The “War to End All Wars” was over. Armistice Day was created on this date to remember the horror and sacrifice; it became Veterans Day – and the memories of war are not dim and long ago.

They are fresh and newly minted. The world has remained a place of conflict. For KITV reporter Denby Fawcett, like male combat veterans, the time she spent under fire is the most vivid of her life, but one that is kept under wraps. Fawcett was a female journalist, armed only with notepad and camera, and women field reporters were rare in Vietnam. It was lonely and crazy. After returning from Vietnam, she rarely spoke of her experiences, although they shaped her.


Confidence propels her. How else can you describe someone who went from a society page writer to war correspondent?

The year was 1966. She asked her newspaper bosses to send her abroad to cover Vietnam. They said “No.”

Denby said goodbye to the high society scene and was catapulted to the front lines. … For the next year, Denby would file her war stories.

She sure showed them.

Now decades later, her experience as part of an exclusive club of female reporters during the Vietnam conflict is chronicled in a new Random House book. “War Torn” is the title.

Guess who is the cover girl?

The stories are more than just a compilation of what the women had to put up with and how they coped. A section in Denby’s chapter tells of her experience “walking point.” She gives you the sense of what it was like foraging ahead in unknown territory with the rest of the pack behind you. I could imagine her steeling her nerves and moving ahead.

… Denby may not realize that every day she is out there pounding that pavement she is inspiring other jounalists to take their turn walking “point.” Denby Fawcett has certainly sloshed around in the trenches of serious journalism long enough that at the end of the day she can appreciate the adventure… along with a good Chianti and a nice pair of shoes.


She’s the shining example of a good, exceptionally good, journalist. She really works at it. Bulldog tough when she gets on a story. Great storage of cellphone numbers of everybody she encounters. Faultless writer. And fair. Really fair. … But mainly, she’s a nice person. If you know her, you know that. Dogged as a reporter but infectiously nice and even tempered. I should add kind. … Best reporter I’ve ever known.

— By Fawcett’s husband, Bob Jones, for Hawaii Reporter

“KITV4’s Denby Fawcett and political science professor Neal Milner talk about the big issues covered in this year’s legislative session. Airdate: 4/30/2010”

“KITV4’s Denby Fawcett explains how the candidates agreed the state needs to tap more federal funding. 8/25/2010.”


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