Lucinda Franks, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, is a reporter and author whose career has spanned over three decades. She has covered terrorism in the 1970s, the War in Northern Ireland, the Feminist Movement, presidential campaigns, and has written in-depth profiles of major political figures, artists, and writers. Franks won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971, for a five-part series entitled “The Making of a Revolutionary”, about Diana Oughton, the Weather Underground woman who blew herself up in a Greenwich Village house which radical terrorists had made into a bomb factory.
Franks has written for the New York Times and contributed to The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, Travel & Leisure, People, Talk Magazine, and New York, among other publications. She is the author of My Father’s Secret War: A Memoir, Waiting Out a War: The Exile of Private John Picciano, and the novel Wild Apples. She has taught and lectured at Princeton University, Yale University, Vassar College, The University of West Virginia, University of St. Louis, Louisville, and Kentucky College (visiting Woodrow Wilson fellow).
Franks’ latest book, My Father’s Secret War, is her account as both a daughter and a reporter of her investigation into the past of her father Tom Franks as she reconnects with him after decades of estrangement. The meticulously-researched story is also a poignant account of discovery and redemption: As her remote father becomes increasingly unable to care for himself in later years, Franks uses her journalistic expertise to uncover the secret details of his experience as a young Navy lieutenant. To her surprise, she learns that the reserved man she grew up with had, in fact, been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II as an assassin in the Resistance (and later in the US), a bomber, and one of the first witnesses to a Holocaust camp. Her investigation takes her from the National Archives and Records Administration, to the Washington Navy Yard, to the Library Congress, and back again. The real Tom Franks had been a hero who sacrificed his youth, innocence, and even his family for his country.
Lucinda Franks is married to New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and has two children. She lives in New York City.
Praise for My Father’s Secret War:
“Lucinda Franks’ personal quest to learn more about ‘her father’s secret war’ is a moving suspense story, brilliantly written and suffused with sensitivity and yearning.”
— Elie Wiesel
“Here is one of the most original memoirs of our time – an unsparing double portrait of an elusive and mysterious man and the daughter determined to learn the fullest truth about his life. Richly documented by the author’s research into U.S. military intelligence records and her father’s private correspondence, My Father’s Secret War moves with the dramatic and moral urgency of a Graham Greene novel.”
— Joyce Carol Oates
“My Father’s Secret War combines the heart-stopping suspense of a great thriller and the heart-melting pathos of a great family saga. It is an entirely new chapter in the complex history of fathers and daughters – and America.”
— Mary Gordon
“My Father’s Secret War opens every gate, every valve of the heart, and lets us in – into history, into hurt, into dismay and out again, and finally into transcendent love.”
— Cynthia Ozick
“My Father’s Secret War tells the story of a devoted daughter’s search to understand a father broken and drained by the Second World War – a father who at the same time attracts, repels, and obsesses her. Lucinda Franks’ memoir is a fascinating combination of sensitivity, suspense, and mystery told against the Nazi nightmare.”
— Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
“Lucinda Franks’ powerful memoir is a mystery, a love story, and a vivid slice of World War II history. A gripping and important book, this is the real story of The Greatest Generation, adding immeasurably to our understanding of who our fathers were and what they survived. My Father’s Secret War should be read by everyone who cares about history – not the history of text books, but the history of what really happened to the men who lived it.”
— Susan Cheever, author of American Bloomsbury
“Lucinda Franks has created a fascinating, indelible portrait of her father – an impossible crank whose secrets reveal a far more complex man, one forever changed by what the military demanded of him and what he witnessed as a result. Franks’ details are absorbing, her style impeccable. My Father’s Secret War is a stunning memoir from a consummate writer.”
“Lucinda Franks’ memoir tells a multileveled story of discovery and reconciliation. It is an important book, filled with history, superbly researched, and beautifully written. The fact that Franks’ subject is her own father makes her achievement all the more remarkable.”
— Patricia Bosworth, author of Diane Arbus: A Biography
“Lucinda Franks marries her investigative skills as a Pulitzer prize winner with her evocative talents as a novelist in an engrossing drama of secrecy and love.”
— Sir Harold Evans, author of The American Century
“My Father’s Secret War is a suspenseful, emotionally charged story of theunraveling and reconciliation of a family. I found it compelling and deeply moving.”
— Hilma Wolitzer, author of The Doctor’s Daughter
“Journalist Lucinda Franks has a long, distinguished record of bringing truth to light… She brings to her work a characteristic passion for revelatory details… The result is a bold, moving account of a daughter’s efforts to understand her father.”
— The Los Angeles Times
“The book reads as a harrowing chapter of military history told as a suspenseful spy story…. Ultimately, though, it is a story of redemption. Avoiding the pitfalls of self-pity or cloying sentiment, Lucinda Franks retraces her path from ignorance to knowledge, her emergence from darkness into light.”
— Chicago Tribune
“Ms. Franks [is] a masterful wordsmith…The tale is beautifully crafted…. Where it gains its universality is in the tale of a daughter’s – and father’s – love…”
— The New York Sun
“Franks is not only a first-class investigative reporter bent on finding the truth… but a loving daughter who is determined to care for her father until the end... She sensitively balances the two needs in this affecting but clear-eyed account…”
— Richmond Times Dispatch
“…Franks’ memoir works on many levels. It’s the story of a man who became a hero and spent the rest of his life keeping it a secret, but it’s also an almost heartbreakingly tender story of reconciliation, of a daughter coming to know her father even as he is slipping away from her. [My Father’s Secret War] is beautifully written, packed with raw emotion, deep affection, and newfound, unexpected respect….”