Goodreads: Cold War Correspondent
Series: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #11
Age Category: Middle Grade
Discover the Korean War through the eyes of the journalist who covered it in this installment of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series
In 1950, Marguerite Higgins (1920–1966) was made bureau chief of the Far East Asia desk for the New York Herald Tribune. Tensions were high on the Korean peninsula, where a border drawn after WWII split the country into North and South. When the North Korean army crossed the border with Soviet tanks, it was war. Marguerite was there when the Communists captured Seoul. She fled with the refugees heading south, but when the bridges were blown over the Han River, she was trapped in enemy territory. Her eyewitness account of the invasion was a newspaper smash hit. She risked her life in one dangerous situation after another––all for the sake of good story. Then she was told that women didn’t belong on the frontlines. The United States Army officially ordered her out of Korea. She appealed to General Douglas MacArthur, and he personally lifted the ban on female war correspondents, which allowed her the chance to report on many of the major events of the Korean War.
Cold War Correspondent brings readers to the start of the Korean War, to see it from the perspective of war journalist Marguerite Higgins. Though Higgins encounters pushback from men who believe women do not belong on the front lines, she perseveres, rushing into danger time and again to get her story. Following Higgins’ experiences allows Hale to expand the focus of his historical tales to include stories from participants other than white men (something he has begun to do more consciously in the most recent installments in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series). It also gives a bit of a human face to a story that otherwise, frankly, just has a lot of guys shooting at tanks. Cold War Correspondent once again, brilliantly, makes history come alive for readers. I have to admit, though, that the books focused on war strategy tend to be my least favorite in the series.
Since I am a huge fan of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, I have eagerly been awaiting Cold War Correspondent since I learned of its release date. Having a story about a female reporter (in a time when it was much more rare) also seemed really cool! The actual reading experience was not quite what I was expecting, though. I really wanted more of Higgins–and less of the soldiers she was writing about. The human experiences are what I find most interesting about history, not warfare technology or even the overall plan to push back the advancing North Korean army. I wanted to know what it was like to be Higgins, writing in a man’s world. Some of that is there (though I got the impression that a lot of the crasser sexism was toned down for the children). But, in the end, it did not really feel like this was Higgins’ story. It was just a bigger story about war strategy and a poorly armed resistance that she happened to appear in periodically.
Readers who enjoy war stories will probably love this one more than I. In fact, I get the impression that Nathan Hale really likes war stories, since we get so many of them from him. In the end, I appreciated the effort to highlight a female reporter whom I am sure not many readers have heard of before. And the effort to explain the start of a war that I imagine many Americans still not understand or find any meaning in. As always, I learned something from Hale’s books–and that, I suppose, is the point.