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Tell Them I Didn't Cry: A Young Journalist's Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq Paperback – Bargain Price, August 7, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743288556
  • ASIN: B005SNKKV8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,096,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jackie Spinner, a Washington Post staff writer, left the steady analytics of financial reporting for the terror-laden beat of Iraq in May 2004. In this memoir, she writes in simple yet descriptive language about the daily challenges and rewards of life in a war zone. Over the course of nine months, she carves her niche at the Baghdad bureau as den mother and human-interest reporter. She objectively reports on the struggles and aspirations of everyday Iraqis, the triumphs and failures of the military and the violence that traps her indoors most of the time—but the heart of this book is in her personal investment in the bureau's Iraqi staff. Spinner cooks weekly dinners for them, plays soccer in the hallways with them and teaches them English. Each chapter ends with reflections written by Jenny, her twin back home, an English professor, who belies her fears with chipper encouragement and dreads toy deliveries to her son because Jackie always orders them online after near-death experiences. Affable and earnest, Spinner made herself at home in war, creating a "family" despite cultural and language barriers, and hers is a unique perspective on living and reporting in Iraq. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Jackie Spinner was a financial reporter with the Washington Post when she was offered the opportunity to cover the war in Iraq. She jumped at the chance to prove herself as a foreign correspondent, setting off for what eventually was a nine-month stay as the rookie reporter in a tight-knit group of reporters, interpreters, bodyguards, and staff. In this intensely personal account, Spinner recalls how being a woman simultaneously freed and constrained her efforts--giving her closer access to Iraqi families but keeping her at a distance from Iraqi men and U.S. soldiers. She struggled to maintain a vegetarian diet, played soccer barefoot, donned a flak jacket, and carried a purse in the crook of her arm, grandmother-style, as she penetrated behind the scenes of the war. To her twin sister, Jenny, safe at home in Virginia, Jackie called and unburdened her fears--recovering from a kidnapping attempt outside the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, losing a female Iraqi friend. The stark contrast between Jackie's recollections and Jenny's horrified perspective from home adds to the intensity of this very human look at war in a nation that Jackie Spinner openly declares she loves and admires. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Readers will find it hard to put down once they read the first page!
E. E. Abbott
Jackie Spinner's stories of her experiences in Iraq and the daily struggles she faces to report the news are emotionally compelling and highly captivating.
C. S. Davis
Jackie best writes about her family's strain to understand why she needs to fulfill her duty in Iraq.
William Harper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By C. S. Davis on January 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like a lot of people, I've been closely following the war in Iraq, and Tell Them I Didn't Cry brings a new and unique perspective the events in that country. Jackie Spinner's stories of her experiences in Iraq and the daily struggles she faces to report the news are emotionally compelling and highly captivating. In particular, I really enjoyed her descriptions of covering the battle in Fallujah and her stories about her friendship with Luma, one of her Iraqi colleagues--both of which helped me to understand why someone would choose to go to Iraq to bring the story back home to the rest of us.

One of the things that really makes this book stand out are the end-of-chapter essays written by the author's twin sister Jenny, in which she describes the struggles that she is facing on the home front struggling to come to terms with her sister's fears and her own. Together, Jackie and Jenny Spinner paint a vivid picture of what life in Iraq is really like for the journalists who are covering the story and for their families back home.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Sturgell on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Tell Them I Didn't Cry" is at once an extremely well-written, deeply personal story of "joy, loss and survival" in war and a journalistic feature report destined to be required reading at every journalism school in the country. Moreover, it is simply a great read.

I know these young women, and understand the tension between the personal essayist (Jenny, the stateside and empathetic English professor) and her adventurous twin sister (Jackie, the news reporter who takes increasingly bigger risks to get the truth about Iraq) that goes on throughout the book. This was part of the unique dynamic in their writing together (that, and our peek into the experience of being a twin). The result is, among other feats, a great book about journalistic objectivity (yes, despite one sour reviewer's remarks, it does exist).

Jackie's memoir is at once deeply personal yet constantly striving for the objective truth of the story of Iraq. Without any literal mention of "journalistic objectivity", the book provides a great lesson on the subject by providing such careful subjective telling of the story. Ultimately, any of the key author's personal politics or world-view is equalized by empathy, pathos and search for professional understanding of other perspectives. Perhaps the best examples of this striving for objective reporting include Jenny's description of the hateful eyes of the Iraqi woman who witnesses her near-kidnapping outside Abu Graib Prison (the frightful incident which gives the book its title) and her interpretation of the relationship between American soldiers and the people of Iraq.

Jackie constantly seeks to understand the story from every angle, from every perspective including her own; this is the very practice that produces human objectivity. With this, her first book, it is also the practice that makes this book a must read. I can't wait until she authors another one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By William Harper on February 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this memoir as a member of the military and as someone who knew Jackie and Jenny in high school: I was editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper that she mentioned early in the book. Although I have not talked to her in almost 20 years, I remembered her personality and interests and learned something about her and her desire to be in Iraq.

The reader is introduced to the many people who became part of her adventure in Iraq. I fell in love with Luma and then was heartbroken at what happened to her after she left the Washington Post. Omar was the loyal friend and protector, particularly during the Battle of Falluja. I enjoyed her many interactions with the cooks and felt like I was a part of her many Friday night dinners as I read the pages of this memoir.

Jackie best writes about her family's strain to understand why she needs to fulfill her duty in Iraq. A soldier trains and is motivated to protect our nation's values and welfare of people around the world. A journalist has a similar motivation and equal responsibility to our country. As I read 'Tell Them I Didn't Cry' I got a better sense of why our friends and families do not understand why we have to fulfill this obligation, despite knowing that our duty is necessary.

I am proud of her success as a journalist and that I was glad that I had a very small role to play in her career. Also, I have warned her to stay safe and always keep her guard up. Her and I certainly have different views on why we are in Iraq; however, I believe that there is common ground and belief in the job that is being accomplished.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Diane A. Henningfeld on February 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jackie Spinner, with help from her twin sister, Jenny, has created an honest and touching memoir of her time in Iraq as a young Washington Post reporter. In addition to carefully detailing the conditions in Iraq, she also explores deeply what it means to be a writer, a daughter, a friend, and a sister. The writing is lovely: clear, nuanced, at times funny, at times heart-breaking.

Likewise, the small vignettes at the end of each chapter written by twin-sister Jenny are little gems of luminous prose. (Anyone who has heard Jenny's essays on NPR's All Things Considered will immediately recognize her voice in print.)

Tell Them I Didn't Cry provides a first-hand account of the ways that war irrevocably shapes and affects those who participate in it, whether as soldier or civilian, man or woman, warrior or witness. It also gives a glimpse of how that participation ripples out to affect those at home as well as those in country.

This is a book well worth reading. (You might also consider giving it to any young writers in your life.)
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