Sayre P. Sheldon chose the twentieth century for this collection of women's war writing because women's roles in war have changed dramatically in this century. The twentieth century has redefined the meaning of combat and expanded the territory of war to include women in larger numbers than ever before. When the technological advances of modern war began to target civilians, the home front became the front line. Women took an active part in war whether or not by choice, often by moving into occupations previously closed to them. Women covered wars for their newspapers, wrote war propaganda for their governments, published their wartime diaries, described fighting alongside men, and used wartime experience for their fiction and poetry.
Women writers also chose the right to imagine war, just as men for centuries had written about war without actually experiencing it. Women writers anthologized here include Anna Akhmatova, Vera Brittain, Gwendolyn Brooks, Willa Cather, Colette, Martha Gellhorn, H.D., Etty Hillesum, Käthe Kollwitz, Doris Lessing, Amy Lowell, Katherine Mansfield, Mary McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Parker, Mary Lee Settle, Gertrude Stein, Huong Tram, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, and Mitsuye Yamada.