Woman reporter writes her own story of career; Buying the Night Flight: The Autobiography of a Woman Foreign Correspondent, by Georgie Anne Geyer. New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence. 337 pp. $16.95.
Georgie Anne Geyer is a colleague - one of the best. We've worked together on many a story since the early 1960s, running into each other in revolutions, elections, and just about anywhere the news flows in Latin America. There have been plenty of times when we ran into each other in airports as we scurried to cover separate stories. And once, in Jamaica, we played tourist, hiring a raft to go down the rapids of the Rio Grande River.
My respect for Gee Gee Geyer, both professionally and personally, has grown over the years. I suppose therefore that I am not an entirely detached reviewer of her new book, ''Buying the Night Flight.'' Well, so be it.
This book is vintage Geyer. It is good reportage, full of trenchant observations about the men and women, both important and obscure, who make up our world today, mixed with plenty of anecdotes and personal experiences. It's all topped off with the philosophy of one of the best professional journalists in the business, a woman who has earned her way to success in a profession long dominated by men, winning grudging and then admiring recognition from her male colleagues.
It was not an easy course. Growing up in Chicago, she was the first person in her family to receive a college education. And when she joined the city desk of the Chicago Daily News, she broke longstanding tradition that kept women locked to the women's pages of such newspapers. That was the first of many molds out of which she has broken. As a young girl, she writes, her future had ''seemed engraved in stone.'' It was ''circumscribed to create the perfect young wife and mother.'' To do anything else was unthinkable - and unattainable. After all, that was ''woman's role'' for a young girl from Chicago's South Side.
But woman's role for Gee Gee Geyer was to be a foreign correspondent, first in Latin America and then throughout the world. One of the first journalists to interview Cuban leader Fidel Castro, she later trekked her way through deep rain forests to the lairs of Guatemalan leftist guerrillas to be the first to tell of their efforts to unseat successive governments. Then Miss Geyer went into poverty-bereft Latin American villages to discover what lay behind the ferment in many countries of the region. It was difficult reporting, but the stories that emerged gave readers keen insights and solid understanding of many of the problems of Latin America.
Since those years, she has gone on to Poland, to Oman, to Tbilisi, to Khartoum, and a hundred other datelines in search of the elusive story, to interview the leaders of the world and those who unseat them, the great and the humble. She has come back with some of the best reporting in the business. More than most reporters, she manages to get in the midst of the action, and that, of course, produces good copy. But she is reflective as well, more interested in the common folk than in most of the leaders, many of whom she finds boring; ''with only a few exceptions like Eduardo Frei of Chile and Gerald Ford of the United States,'' she writes, ''they tend to be egomaniacs; they issue tireless pronouncements.''
''Buying the Night Flight'' is honest adventure, full of insight and realism.