Fierce Ambition: The Life and Legend of War Correspondent Maggie Higgins (Hardcover)
A spirited portrait of twentieth-century war correspondent Maggie Higgins and her tenacious fight to the top in a male-dominated profession.
Marguerite Higgins was both the scourge and envy of the journalistic world. A longtime reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, she first catapulted to fame with her dramatic account of the liberation of Dachau at the end of World War II. Brash, beautiful, ruthlessly competitive, and sexually adventurous, she forced her way to the front despite being told the combat zone was no place for a woman. Her headline-making exploits earned her a reputation for bravery bordering on recklessness and accusations of “advancing on her back,” trading sexual favors for scoops.
While the Herald Tribune exploited her feminine appeal—regularly featuring the photogenic "girl reporter" on its front pages—it was Maggie’s dogged determination, talent for breaking news, and unwavering ambition that brought her success from one war zone to another. Her notoriety soared during the Cold War, and her daring dispatches from Korea garnered a Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence—the first granted to a woman for frontline reporting—with the citation noting the unusual dangers and difficulties she faced because of her sex. A star reporter, she became part of the Kennedy brothers’ Washington circle, though her personal alliances and politics provoked bitter feuds with male rivals, who vilified her until her untimely death.
Drawing on new and extensive research, including never-before-published correspondence and interviews with Maggie’s colleagues, lovers, and soldiers and generals who knew her in the field, journalist and historian Jennet Conant restores Maggie’s rightful place in history as a woman who paved the way for the next generation of journalists, and one of the greatest war correspondents of her time.
— Andrew Nagorski - Wall Street Journal
Higgins’s life is now rendered in full, no longer lost to the march of male-dominated history.
— Helene Stapinski - Washington Post
Kept me turning the pages because this true story is more compelling than most novels.... A tale of triumph over almost insurmountable odds.
— Sandy Kenyon - WABC-TV
No one who reads the first chapter will be able to set this book aside, rich as it is in rare insights and high drama. Fierce Ambition left me believing that if Maggie Higgins could have selected her biographer it would have been Jenny Conant.
— Cynthia McFadden, senior investigative and legal correspondent, NBC News
The remarkable story of an irrepressible wartime reporter who would do almost anything to get a scoop. Beautiful, brilliant, and demanding, Maggie Higgins was a comet in the gray, male world of mid-twentieth-century American journalism captured in all of her complexity by Jennet Conant in her utterly compelling Fierce Ambition.
— Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power
Jennet Conant’s brilliant storytelling and extraordinary granular research bring Maggie Higgins’s long-forgotten but vital story to life…Her fearless quest to bring the truth to light will serve as inspiration for a new generation of pathfinding women. What a woman, what a legend.
— Janine di Giovanni, author of The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria
Maggie Higgins lived life at a gallop and this book keeps up with her…Jenny Conant tells the whole story with verve, insight, and deep appreciation for this fascinating, complex, and pioneering woman.
— Richard Cohen, four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist
Fierce Ambition is a reflection of journalism, hung on the passionate, brilliant, sexy, hilarious, honest, complicated, moving, tough, heartbreaking, outrageous, courageous, astonishing life of the intrepid ‘girl’ war correspondent Maggie Higgins. Slam! Bang! Kapow! If you’re a journalist and you’re not reading Fierce Ambition, you’re not doing your homework.
— Terry McDonell, author of The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers
Doggedly reported, incisive, and one fabulous ride, Fierce Ambition shows us a Maggie Higgins who is bold, shrewd, and indomitable, a role model not just for aspiring journalists but for fearless women of every stripe.
— Mimi Swartz, executive editor, Texas Monthly
Engrossing.... Propulsive and high-spirited, this is a riveting depiction of a larger-than-life trailblazer.
— Publishers Weekly
An admiring, cleareyed portrait of an ambitious, successful woman.
— Kirkus Reviews