The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

September 5, 2013

September 5, 1935

Ward Just (born September 5, 1935) is an acclaimed writer. He was born in Michigan City, Indiana. Here is an brief biography from

An acclaimed novelist and short story writer, Ward Just began his career as a reporter, first for the Waukegan (Il.) News-Sun, then Newsweek and later The Washington Post. As the Vietnam correspondent for The Washington Post, Just earned a reputation for fearlessness, venturing far into the field to report the war firsthand. Badly wounded during one of these missions, Just refused to be airlifted out until all the enlisted men who had been similarly wounded were taken to safety. This incident is portrayed in Michael Herr's book, Dispatches and in Just's own critically acclaimed memoir of the Vietnam War. [To what end: report from Vietnam (1968)]

His books often focus on the juncture of politics and personal narratives. And his narrative eye occasionally pauses on cats. What caught my attention though, to relay here, was an odd phrase in this quote, from his memoir.

Higginbotham had acquired a passable knowledge of Vietnamese. When his lead squad found a small arrow-shaped sign with the words Anh Ban di Trang, he knew we were on the right trail, the pigeons among the cats. The words translated, "friends go straight." It was obviously an enemy message. And with the Vietnamese talent for confusion, at the point of the sign the trail forked, with no clear indication which trail was meant.

Among his novels, which appear at regular intervals, I mention these merely as a sample.

The Translator (1991)
Ambition & Love (1994)
Echo House (1997)
A Dangerous Friend (1999)
The Weather in Berlin (2002).

In 2013 Ward Just was elected to the American Academy Of Arts And Letters. And that my friends, is a big deal -- an honor between a Pulitzer and a Nobel.

No comments: