War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix Reveals the Very Real Dangers of Journalism in ‘Dirty Wars and Polished Silver’ [REVIEW]

Lydna Schuster

Whether dodging bullets or working a room as the ambassador’s wife, Lynda Schuster has seen it all and lived to tell about it. (Photo courtesy Lynda Schuster)

Sometimes the very things we try to outrun wind up being the things we embrace. So how does a teenage girl trying to leave behind a brain numbing Midwestern upbringing in search of adventure wind up being a journalist in some of the world’s most dangerous hot zones and ultimately, the wife of an American diplomat? Find out in the fascinating memoir, Dirty Wars and Polished Silver: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix by Lynda Schuster. 


Melville House

When Lynda was growing up in 1970s Detroit, she wanted to be anywhere but where she was, especially as she watched her parents’ marriage dissolve into a messy divorce. As soon as she could though, she left that life behind, and by 1973, she was on a kibbutz in Israel, wading through chicken feces and picking fruit in orchards even as the country came under attack. Hard, laborious work, she reasoned these menial tasks could have helped her discover the meaning of life. What it did do was introduce her to colorful characters and nasty heartburn.

Later, life took her to other parts of the globe where she sent dispatches from the far edges of the planet, chronicling the grim conditions of a world beset by war. Whether she was facing death squads in Central America or dodging rocket fire in Lebanon, she bravely heightened the world’s awareness about the plights faced by people on other continents. The violence she wrote about hit all too close to home, however, when her first husband, a fellow journalist, was assassinated only 10 months after they exchanged their vows.

When she eventually married a U.S. diplomat, it would seem that she should have found some semblance of normalcy in her life. But elegant dinner parties with heads of state, a personal staff, and tutorials in genteel society couldn’t protect her from the real world and the violence that always seemed to simmer just below the surface. Far from being a charmed life, Lynda Schuster’s tale is one that is written in blood, punctuated with terror, and yet somehow, highlighted with her eternal self-deprecating humor.

This is a story of a remarkable life, one that very few can claim to have juggled, balancing the high-octane, adrenaline-rushed life of a war correspondent with the duties of a woman navigating the illusory world of power in a foreign land where every cautious step could detonate a potential landmine. Schuster does a wonderful job capturing all the nuances of her story with writing that is fresh, tangible, vivid, and consistently gripping.

Dirty Wars should be mandatory reading for both journalism and political science students everywhere. It dispells the romanticized ideas of working in the media with eloquent realism and proves why every reporter needs to remain alert and aware, no matter how focused and driven they may be. Ultimately, in a world beseiged by journalistic criticism and cries of “fake news,” this is a book for our time written by a woman who has walked on both sides of the fence.


Lynda Schuster

Lynda Schuster
(Photo by Heidi L. Lewis)

Lynda Schuster is the author of A Burning Hunger: One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid (2004), which chronicled the story of the Mashininis, a black South African family of 13 children, all of whom were deeply involved in helping to bring down the apartheid government.

 A former foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor, she has reported from Central and South America, Mexico, the Middle East, and Africa. Her work has appeared in GrantaUtne ReaderThe Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Magazine, among others.

She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter. For more information about Lynda, visit her home on the Web at LyndaSchuster.com and like her on Facebook.

By Lynda Schuster
352 pgs. Melville House. $24.99

You may purchase Dirty Wars and Polished Silver at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver has been brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver Giveaway

Congratulations to Hagit Limor, our winner for the Dirty Wars and Polished Silver giveaway. Please check back for more opportunities to win other great books.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix Reveals the Very Real Dangers of Journalism in ‘Dirty Wars and Polished Silver’ [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Lynda Schuster, author of Dirty Wars and Polished Silver, on tour August 2017 | TLC Book Tours

  2. YES! I so agree – this should be mandatory reading. I know I’m looking forward to picking it up asap.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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