Flat Earth: War zones and Amazons

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The Independent Online
A NEW book - Battling for News by former Reuters correspondent Anne Sebba - about the rise of women reporters, particularly those with a bent for difficult and dangerous assignments, contains a large contingent of women from the Antipodes. Apart from such veteran warriors as Clare Hollingworth (British) and Martha Gelhorn (American), stars of the book include Kate Webb, a chain-smoking New Zealander who went missing, presumed dead, during the war in Cambodia in 1971, and lived to tell the tale of her imprisonment (she was lucky to be captured by the North Vietnamese rather than the Khmer Rouge); and the BBC's own Iron Curtain correspondent, Diana Goodman, who is about to leave Berlin for a new assignment to Moscow.

Contemplating this phenomenon on Australia Day, it occurred to us that there has always been an element of the pioneer in the Antipodean woman, despite the suburban sloth you see on Neighbours. You know the sort of thing - heading for the bush, boiling a billy can, shearing sheep, milking cows, coping with wild animals. These 'pioneers' also have a commanding presence, as a glance at Germaine Greer will show.

Perhaps in view of last week's incident in Sydney, it would be advisable to hand over security for the rest of the Prince of Wales's tour to a detachment of Anzac women.

(Photograph omitted)

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