September 01, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Private First Class Jessica Lynch, whose capture and rescue in the early days of the Iraq war made her into a national hero, will finally get to profit from her own story, told as she sees fit. With her medical discharge from the Army last week, she was at last free to sign a long-rumored book deal with Knopf for an authorized biography, to be called, ”I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story.” Already hard at work writing the book is Rick Bragg, the former New York Times reporter who was fired earlier this year for taking credit for the work of a freelance writer, and who has spent considerable time with the Lynch family in West Virginia. The book is expected to be on shelves as early as November, and Bragg and the Lynch family will split a $1 million advance, according to the Post.

”I have been heartened by the hope and faith of the American people, and by the tireless effort of the U.S. Armed Forces,” Lynch said in a rare statement. ”I feel I owe them all this story, which will be about more than a girl going off to war and fighting alongside her fellow soldiers. It will be a story about growing up in America, and I will tell it with the help of Rick Bragg, a writer my family and I have come to admire.”

The facts of the ambush in which Lynch was wounded, her captivity, and her rescue from an Iraqi hospital, are still in dispute, and early reports said that the recuperating POW didn’t remember what had happened to her. Nonetheless, Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards, who has visited Lynch and her family, assures readers, ”Her memory is intact and her recall of events — during the ambush and after — informs the narrative. That’s important. This is the book that will finally give us a first-person account of what happened.”

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