Harpaz, Beth J. 1961(?)-

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HARPAZ, Beth J. 1961(?)-


Born c. 1961; daughter of Anne Farrell; married (husband a criminal attorney); children: Danny, Nathaniel. Education: Cornell University, B.A.; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, M.A.


Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Journalist and author. Associated Press, reporter, 1988—.


Feature-writing awards from New York Press Club and Newswomen's Club of New York.


The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001, published as The Girls in the Van: A Reporter's Diary of the Campaign Trail, 2002.

Finding Annie Farrell: A Family Memoir, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.


Beth J. Harpaz's The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary offers a behind-the-scenes look at Hillary Clinton's successful run for the U.S. Senate, as well as provide readers with insight into the day-today gossip, political maneuvering, awkward missteps, and inside jokes of that election. A veteran Associated Press reporter, Harpaz followed Clinton from the moment the then-first lady donned a black pantsuit and Yankees cap and declared her love for a state in which she never lived, all the way to her historic victory as the only first lady ever to win elective office.

Taking its lead from Timothy Crouse's bestselling The Boys on the Bus, which was an insider's view of reporters following the Nixon-McGovern campaign trail, The Girls in the Van also demonstrates how reporting has changed since 1972. Typewriters and telephones have been replaced by laptops and Palm Pilots, and women, all but absent in The Boys on the Bus, made up half of the reporters covering Clinton. Harpaz spent most of her time trying to gain access to the always-aloof Clinton, no easy task since the first lady used all the security befitting her status to keep the press at bay. Only after months of scheming and begging, for example, did Harpaz receive a requested list of favorites—color, food, movie, etc.—from the candidate. "There's more here," wrote Jane Dystal in Publishers Weekly, "[like] how reporters cope with the absolute boredom of hearing the same few speeches months on end, how Harpaz tries, not very successfully, to have a normal home life for her two small children while working a time-consuming job."

Also closely examined is Harpaz's role as mother and "the old conflicting-values dilemma," as the author puts it, swiping one of Clinton's own campaign phrases. Harpaz recounts her child-care crises and her late-dinner stratagems, as well as her anxiety over whether her kids would be "scarred for life" or, "in the long run, benefit from having a mother who had an interesting career," and of her decision to take the family's vacation as usual that summer because "it didn't seem fair to deprive [her school-age son] and his brother of our annual trip to the country just because I was covering Hillary." Patricia O'Brien wrote in the New York Times Book Review that, "For all of her conflicts, Harpaz comes across as a hardworking reporter in the classic style, trying to do her best and then think about what it all means when it's over. She remains dissatisfied with the rigidly controlled woman she covered and never understood. But she also retains a healthy frustration with herself and her craft, examining with a skeptical eye her own cynicism—what she calls the 'occupational disease' of reporters. Harpaz has written an honest book. The result is an insider's view of a female reporter grappling with a groundbreaking campaign—one that never surfaced back in the days of Timothy Crouse."

Harpaz's second book, Finding Annie Farrell: A Family Memoir, finds the author delving into her own family background, mining letters, photographs, and other vestiges of her family's past. Annie Farrell is Harpaz's mother, a woman who battled depression after escaping a childhood of poverty. Raised in Maine, Farrell escaped to New York City and married, although the mental illness that dogged her family combined with an unhappy marriage and her sadness over leaving rural northern New England to propel her into a life of secrets, alcoholism, and an early death. In Booklist Margaret Flanagan praised Harpaz for creating a "haunting and ultimately redemptive memoir," while Antoinette Brinkman described Finding Annie Farrell as "a readable, moving, and astute examination of a life."



Booklist, October 15, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary, p. 377; January 1, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of Finding Annie Farrell: A Family Memoir, p. 814.

Columbia Journalism Review, September, 2001, Andie Tucher, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 74.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2003, review of Finding Annie Farrell, p. 1391.

Kliatt, March, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 49.

Library Journal, July, 2001, Nathan Ward, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 110; January, 2002, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 49; January, 2004, Antoinette Brinkman, review of Finding Annie Farrell, p. 126.

New York Times Book Review, November 11, 2001, Patricia O'Brien, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2001, review of The Girls in the Van, p. 168; December 8, 2003, review of Finding Annie Farrell, p. 55.


GirlsintheVan.com,http://www.girlsinthevan.com (February 22, 2004).