Frances FitzGerald (journalist)

IntroAmerican journalist and author
Is Journalist 
From United States of America 
Type Journalism 
Social science 
Birth 21 October 1940 
, New York City
Age80 years
Mother: Marietta Peabody Tree

Frances FitzGerald (born October 21, 1940) is an American journalist and historian, who is primarily known for Fire in the Lake (1972), an acclaimed account of the Vietnam War. It was a bestseller that won the Pulitzer Prize, Bancroft Prize, and National Book Award.

Early life

Frances FitzGerald was born in New York City, the only daughter of Desmond FitzGerald, an attorney on Wall Street, and socialite Marietta Peabody. Her parents divorced shortly after World War II. From 1950 to his death in 1967, her father was an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, becoming a deputy director.

As a teenager, FitzGerald wrote voluminous letters to Governor Adlai Stevenson of New York, expressing her opinion on many subjects, a reflection of her deep interest in world affairs. She graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College, then a women’s college associated with Harvard University.


FitzGerald became a journalist, particularly active at the time of the Vietnam War. Her debut book, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (1972), was met with great acclaim when it was published, and is still considered one of the most notable books about the Vietnam War. She won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, the Bancroft Prize for history, and the U.S. National Book Award in Contemporary Affairs.

FitzGerald has continued to write about history and culture: her published books include America Revised (1979), a highly critical review of history textbooks published in the United States; Cities on a Hill (1987), an analysis of United States urban history compared to ideals; Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War (2000), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth (2002).

FitzGerald has also written numerous articles, which have been published in The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Architectural Digest, and Rolling Stone. Her “Rewriting American history” was published in The Norton Reader. She serves on the editorial boards of The Nation and Foreign Policy magazines. She serves as vice-president of International PEN.

Personal life

FitzGerald is married to James P. Sterba, a former writer for The Wall Street Journal. They live in New York City and Maine. Sterba featured the latter in his 2003 book Frankie’s Place: A Love Story.