Tripp, Elise Forbes 1942(?)-

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Tripp, Elise Forbes 1942(?)-


Born c. 1942, in Milton, MA. Education: Graduate of Harvard University; Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, M.A., Ph.D.


Home—Sunderland, MA. Office—Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke, MA 01040.


World Bank, international relations counselor for United Nations affairs; Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA, adjunct professor.


Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories, Olive Branch Press (Northampton, MA), 2008.


Elise Forbes Tripp was born circa 1942 in Milton, Massachusetts. She is a descendant of Robert Forbes, the Boston, Massachusetts, ship captain who was a well-known figure in the China trade industry during the 1800s. After graduating from Harvard University, Tripp worked for many years for the World Bank as an international relations counselor for United Nations affairs, living in Hong Kong, Japan, and Tanzania. In the United States, she earned a master of arts and a doctoral degree, both from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Baltimore, Maryland, then returned to her native state, making her home in Sunderland and taking a position as adjunct professor of American history at Holyoke Community College.

In her position at Holyoke Community College, she met the U.S. soldiers she interviewed for her book, Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories. According to Tripp, she did not feel any personal interest in the Iraq War until her nephew enlisted in the Marines and was shipped to Iraq after the March 2003 invasion. She realized, then, that she did not fully understand the soldiers' viewpoints on the war. Tripp soon found that several veterans of the Middle East wars were students in her classes, and that many of them were eager to talk about their experiences.

In 2005 and 2006, Tripp interviewed thirty of her students. She had asked for volunteers and took the first thirty who showed an interest. The interviewees were diverse; the soldiers were between the ages of eighteen and sixty, men and women who had served in the Middle East, of diverse races and cultural backgrounds, serving both as active duty and reserve troops, from all branches of the military. Tripp simply asked each soldier to talk about what he or she learned from, saw during, and thought about their involvement in the Middle East wars, then recorded their stories, without comment or editorial. In Tripp's interviews, soldiers were allowed to talk about any subject in an open-ended stream of consciousness, allowing them to share what they felt to be most important about their experiences, as well as their personal opinions, without directing or restricting speech. After Surviving Iraq was published, Tripp took part in several speaking engagements for the book, bringing with her one of the soldiers who had been interviewed. Library Journal contributor Jenny Seftas remarked that since the soldiers were not questioned during the interviews, the collection of stories was somewhat "dense and nonlinear." A "time table of the war, maps, and a glossary of military terms," though, "help keep readers on track," Seftas concluded.



Library Journal, March 1, 2008, Jenny Seftas, review of Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories, p. 96.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2008, review of Surviving Iraq.


Interlink Books, (August 1, 2008), review of Surviving Iraq and short author profile.

Seacoastonline.com (April 13, 2008), Jeanné McCartin, review of Surviving Iraq.

Surviving Iraq: Soldiers' Stories Web site, (August, 1, 2008), synopsis of Surviving Iraq and short author profile.

Wicked Local Web log, Milton, (December 12, 2007), L.E. Campenella, "Milton Native Writes Book about Iraq War Soldiers' Experiences," review of Surviving Iraq.