By Jerry Rose and Lucy Rose Fischer
Reviewed by Meilee Anderson
When I opened the box containing an advance reader copy of “The Journalist” I squealed in joy. Not only do I love getting new books, but this was a memoir and those are my favorites. I started reading the book this morning and couldn’t put it down. I flew through the chapters and found my jaw hanging open at the ending later that afternoon.
What I should have known before reading “The Journalist” was that body of work was compiled from the journals, letters, articles and writings of Jerry Rose about 50 some years after his death. His sister, Lucy Rose Fischer “collaborated” with her brother’s work. Overall, I was impressed with how this book reads. This book tells the story of a journalist (Jerry Rose) and his life during a divisive and controversial time.
My knowledge of the Vietnam war comes from what I learned in school, Hollywood movies and from working with military reunion groups. During my hospitality career I worked with hundreds of reunion groups that served from all branches of the military in WWII, Korea and the Vietnam conflict. I didn’t just book a conference room and a block of hotel rooms for those groups. I got to know them and their stories. The veteran groups just grabbed ahold of my heart and though it’s been decades later I can still recall some of those groups and their stories vividly. Getting to know those veterans and their families is what made history come alive for me. The conflicts I remember learning about in school weren’t real to me until I met people who were there.
But I digress, let’s get back to “The Journalist”. Jerry Rose was an artist, a writer and though his start in journalism was accidental he went onto to establish himself as a trusted voice for covering elements of the Vietnam conflict. He dreamed of writing novels. He enjoyed friendships, travel and tennis. Before he married, he had an affair with a married woman. I don’t think he was a work alcoholic exactly, but I don’t think it would be a stretch to call him an absentee husband and father. The man traveled a lot for his job.
We also meet the women in Jerry’s life. He loved his mother. He and his father didn’t always see eye to eye. He had two sisters. He was passionate about his lover during their affair. Later in life he fell in love and married his wife Kay. His wife Kay and his youngest sister Lucy were my favorite two women in the story.
Kay knew who she married. I think she went into her marriage eyes wide open. I’m sure she hoped her traveling husband would slow down and stay closer to home after their daughter was born. I’m sure she was under no illusion that he would slow down when their son was born. She seemed to take things in stride. Prior to her marriage she had a career and was well traveled. She ran her household, raised her kids, and longed for her husband to come home between assignments. In his defense he tried a desk job but hated it. He was cut out to be in the field and ended up dying chasing a story.
Jerry Rose took on more of a paternal role towards his beloved baby sister Lucy. From her first arrival on the scene he was fatherly towards his baby sister. Lucy went to live overseas briefly with Jerry and his wife and child. She volunteered in the community and actively learned about the country and its conflicts. I like the fact that she wasn’t just a bystander to be doted on by her big brother. I find it admirable that she rolled up her sleeves and went to work in a foreign country when she was still fairly young.
In all my years I’ve never once stopped to think about the civilian journalists and how they were/are impacted by the conflicts they cover. I have read a few memoirs written by journalists but there weren’t solely war correspondents. Overall, this is an impressive body of work. I’m glad I read “The Journalist” as it was thought provoking and gave me a new perspective to consider.
I think it’s fantastic Jerry wrote so well and left behind enough material that his sister was able to put this book together nearly 50 years after his death. I look at my own meager attempts to journal over the years and marvel at what it took to put this book together. I’ve since added another one of Lucy Rose Fischer’s books to my “books to read list.” And oh, what a long list that is! Wishing you all good reads.