Jerry A. Rose & Lucy Rose Fischer, The Journalist (Spark Press, 2020)
She probably doesn’t remember, but Lucy Rose Fischer attended my birthday party at my house in Gloversville, New York when I was 7 or 8 years old, and I remember visiting their house probably for a reciprocal activity. I also knew about her older brother Jerry’s being a reporter covering Vietnam and his dying there in 1965. For that reason and because of my interest in Vietnam, I wanted to read Lucy’s book that honors Jerry and shares his story.
I would recommend The Journalist even without a personal connection as a way to keep alive the sad story of America’s involvement in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries post-World War II. As a quick re-cap, the U.S. got involved when the French, which had been the colonial power in that region prior to the war, had to pull out. U.S. leaders worried that the region would fall under communist influence from China and/or Russia and committed to preventing that. What started as sending advisors to aid the local government, however, escalated into a jungle-environment conflict in which more than 50,000 young Americans and hundreds of thousand Vietnamese died before we exited.
Jerry Rose went to Vietnam by accident, but stayed there through several relationships with American media, because he grew to love the people and the location, and because he wanted the American people to know the truth of what was going on in our name. His reporting was so compelling that the events he was covering could not be ignored. His work appeared in the New York Times, Saturday Evening Post, New Republic, Life and other national publications.
Relying on letters, personal journals and published accounts, Lucy covers the professional part of his life, but also brings out his personal life––relationships with family, lovers, his wife and children, and colleagues in a story format that kept this reader on the edge of his seat. Rose died because he couldn’t say ‘no’ to a colleague and boarded a plane that was not suitable to fly anxious to get back to his family. His loss was tragic on many levels, but sister Lucy has spent a lifetime researching and writing up his story. It deserves a wide following.