New book chronicles work of female Vietnam War journalist
The University of Nebraska Press published Death Zones and Darling Spies, the memoirs of Beverly Deepe Keever, professor emerita at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Communication. Keever is the longest-serving American correspondent who covered the Vietnam War and she garnered a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
Death Zones and Darling Spies describes what it was like for Keever, a farm girl from Nebraska, to find herself halfway around the world, trying to make sense of one of the nation’s bloodiest and bitterest wars.
Keever arrived in Saigon as Vietnam’s war entered a new phase and American helicopter units and provincial advisers were unpacking. She tells of traveling from her Saigon apartment to jungles where Wild West–styled forts first dotted Vietnam’s borders and where, seven years later, they fell like dominoes from communist-led attacks.
In 1965 she braved elephant grass with American combat units armed with unparalleled technology to observe their valor—and their inability to distinguish friendly farmers from hide-and-seek guerrillas.
Keever’s trove of tissue-thin memos to editors, along with published and unpublished dispatches for New York and London media, provide readers with you-are-there descriptions of Buddhist demonstrations and turning-point coups as well as phony ones. Two Vietnamese interpreters, self-described as “darling spies,” helped her decode Vietnam’s shadow world and subterranean war.
A UH Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching honoree, Keever has also authored News Zero: The New York Times and The Bomb and U.S. News Coverage of Racial Minorities: A Sourcebook, 1934–1996.