Tribute to Joyce Poole Horn, 1939-2019
Joyce Horn was a dedicated and feisty managing editor of the journal Demokratizatsiya for nearly two decades. She also edited Current and World Affairs.
"Dem" was founded in 1990-92 by a group of undergraduate students at American University (AU) in Washington, DC, who essentially self-published the first few issues and distributed them at conferences and bookstores by hand. As luck would have it, the AU professor who served as the chief editor, Louise Shelley, had an acquaintance named Walter Beach, who led us to his colleague and friend Jeane Kirkpatrick—the former U.S. ambassador to the UN and the highest-ranking woman for a good part of the Reagan administration. By that time, Jeane was running Heldref Publications, an endowed non-profit educational foundation that served as a home for around 45 worthy journals that otherwise would not have survived.
We were introduced to Joyce when Heldref took on the financial and operational responsibility for Demokratizatsiya, although the journal continued to be editorially independent. Joyce was assigned the editing and proofreading of the journal, as she had substantial experience with political science and public affairs journals. Joyce also had an impressive ability to make foreigners' English more readable, a skill that was greatly needed: the journal published many Russian and other post-Soviet authors whose English was far from perfect (and whose writing style was, back then, still quite "Soviet") and many translations needed hours of serious editing, such as only Joyce could do, to turn them into publishable works. Disseminating articles by authors from the post-Soviet republics greatly enhanced the journal's reputation in a pre-Internet age.
AU's Transnational Crime and Corruption Center subsequently [End Page 257] hired Joyce to edit several monographs, such as Sally Stoecker and Louise Shelley's Human Traffic and Transnational Crime: Eurasian and American Perspectives (2005). Joyce was a highly professional, thorough, detail-oriented editor who demanded high standards of all issue editors. Nary a footnote could pass without full citation. This proved difficult when editing articles from Russian colleagues, whose footnotes were often lacking.
On the personal side, Joyce took great interest in our lives, but rarely spoke of her own. Only upon her death have we been able to piece together—through conversations with relatives, photo albums, and a few books and articles—the fascinating career she enjoyed, with long periods of residence in Saigon, Vietnam, and Washington, DC.
Upon graduating from high school in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1958, Joyce went to Washington, DC, and landed a job on the staff of Congressman Howard Robison of New York. She worked for Robison for six years. Soon thereafter, in 1964, she joined Page Communications Inc., a company that provided engineering support to the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Captivated with the idea of living in Vietnam, Joyce forged travel documents in order to move to Saigon and work in the Page office there. However, her boss at Page was outraged by her duplicity and demanded that she return to the United States. In response, she simply quit.
For the next decade, Joyce devoted her time and talents to caring for children, initially at an orphanage and then at a plastic surgery hospital. At the Go Vap orphanage, she helped Catholic nuns care for nearly 1,000 babies and child refugees of the war. She also actively recruited American military personnel to help provide clothing, medicines, and food for the orphanage and sent pleas for donations to American companies in the States.
In 1968, Joyce joined the "Barsky Unit," a plastic and reconstructive surgery hospital established by the American Dr. Arthur Barsky and funded by the U.S. and Saigon governments to treat victims of napalm attacks. As hospital administrator, she assisted in admitting victims to the hospital. Remarkably, one of the victims whom she admitted in 1972 was the now-infamous Kim Phuc, who was photographed escaping her home after it was bombed by napalm.
This single photo of a naked girl screaming and running down the road became symbolic of the horrors of the Vietnam War—and made a celebrity out of Kim Phuc, who miraculously survived major napalm burns. After Kim was released from the hospital, Joyce received a letter from a group of firemen in New York who had raised $3,000 to bring Kim to the States for a vacation. Joyce responded that it would be unwise to single out one victim, counseling them, "Use your money to instead help many." [End Page 258]
Unfortunately, we do not have access to people who worked with her and knew her while living and working in Saigon. Sally finds it remarkable that Joyce never mentioned her experiences in Vietnam, even when prodded. Joyce's reluctance to speak of those years led Sally to conclude that she worked for the CIA.
In retrospect, it seems fitting that Joyce helped edit many of Dem editors' articles and books on child trafficking and homelessness in Russia. It would have been natural for her to share her experiences coping with child trauma and abandonment in Vietnam.
At some point in the 1970s, Joyce returned to Washington and took a job at the American Political Science Association (APSA). There she befriended the executive director of APSA, Evron Kirkpatrick ("Kirk") and his wife Jeane, a prominent political scientist. Joyce was the person to call when their children got sick and she would rush to their school to bring them home, enabling both parents to maintain their influential careers.
Upon retiring from Heldref, she returned to her Pennsylvania roots and family in Amish country. There she enjoyed frequent visits with her numerous nieces and nephews and the sound of Amish horse-drawn carriages passing by her home.
We miss her and her feistiness. Rest in Peace, Joyce!
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Sally W. Stoecker and Louise Shelley are former executive editors of Demokratizatsiya, Fredo Arias-King is the founder of the journal.