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Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army Hardcover – September 6, 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Williams's account of her Iraq service tries very hard to be a fresh and wised-up postfeminist take: Private Benjamin by way of G.I. Jane. Showy rough language peppers every paragraph, and Williams's obsessive self-concern, expressed in a lot of one-sentence paragraphs beginning with "I," verges on the narcissistic. The surprise is the degree to which the account succeeds and even echoes military memoirists from Julius Caesar to Ernie Pyle. The fear, bad weather, intermittent supplies, inedible meals (especially for the vegetarian author) and crushing boredom of life in the field are all here. Williams's particular strength is in putting an observant, distaff spin on the bantering and brutality of barracks life, where kids from the Survivor generation must come to terms with a grim and confusing reality over which they have little control. The differences are less in the sexual dynamics (which mostly are an extension of office politics) than the contradictions of the conflict in which the troops are engaged, which Williams embodies more than illuminates. She learns Arabic; there's a Palestinian boyfriend and a short, failed marriage during her state-side training. While an ex-punk, Chomsky-reading liberal, Williams questions the day-to-day conduct of the war without ever really engaging with its underlying rationale. Such nuance, though, might be too much to ask.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Williams’s war memoir is just one in a string that originated from recent U.S.-led forays into the Middle East, and its uniqueness comes from its female perspective. Critics agree that Love My Rifle is no deep piece of literature. Instead, it’s a shocking, on-the-ground view of one military woman’s experience in Iraq. Williams spares no details about the stress of combat, the questionable treatment of Iraqi prisoners, and her scathing opinion of the U.S. administration, though she never explains why she enlisted in the first place. As one of only 15 percent of women employed by the Army, Williams possibly overplays the sexual harassment she suffered—or so claim a few of the more suspect male reviewers. But the story’s not over: Williams can be called back to duty any time.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton; 1 edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393060985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393060980
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Usually I rely on reviews to read or steer clear of books. Based on the reviews here I decided not to order the book. One day I was at the used book store and found a single copy of it and threw it along with the rest of the military books I was researching to determine whether or not I wanted to join the military - along with Joker One, Band of Sisters, and Lonely Soldier. I had previously read Generation Kill and One Bullet Away. I am glad I purchased the book. Some reviewers think the writing is subpar but it's better than Band of Sisters and nearly on par with Joker One. This book is NOT as sharply written as One Bullet Away but it's got heart and very much worth reading. It's not Shakespeare but the writing is clear and Williams gets her point and most of her feelings across. Some reviewers think Williams is whining about her job - it's odd that the grumblings in Joker One or Generation Kill is not considered whiney if men do it but suddenly is for Williams. Williams still does her job but her complaints are similar to her male writing counterparts who gripe (with good reason) about the inept people who command her, the misery of the job situation, no armor for her humvee and the questioning of the war. The book chronicles her life prior (getting a college degree) thru Iraq to the training to speak Arabic, to coming home. Her story is amazing enough to be made into a tv movie and this book is a quick read because it feels like a diary of a woman who wants her audience understand what she's been thru and is quick to acknowledge she isn't perfect but that she wanted to do something for her country.
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Format: Hardcover
Williams opens her memoir by declaring that all Army females are either a bitch (they won't sleep with you) or a slut (they'll sleep with everyone but you). She stayed a bitch during her tour in the Army, but that didn't stop her from being the subject of some nasty rumors.

Williams is a bit older than your typical enlistee, she's college-educated, and she's dated a Muslim man, so she provides a unique perspective on the Army and her deployment to Muslim Iraq. She's stationed for some time with 18-year-old infantry grunts, and while she has a much different (and understanding) attitude toward the locals, she understands how someone defending a position and getting attacked can do nothing but hate every Iraqi man, woman, and child as a potential insurgent.

Again and again, Williams questions the plan as a whole. Stop points and roadblocks are erected with no Arabic signage, Muslim women are afraid of strange men, and the last military in the country (Saddam's) consisted of ruthless killers, so how are local Iraqi villages supposed to understand what is going on at roadblocks? Then again, there have been plenty of female suicide bombers, so what are the soldiers supposed to expect? Williams has to use underground circuits to get her vegetarian kosher/halal meals, even though most soldiers hate them and abandon them with the trash, because she can't officially get religious meals due to a "personal dietary" (vegetarian) preference. In one heartbreaking scene, Williams interprets during the search of a Catholic monastery. Her superiors are hot-headed, interrupting service, destroying property, and ignoring the priest who reaches out to them as a brother. Later, she gets someone to do a good turn for the monastery, which leaves the reader with some hope.
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Format: Paperback
I received this book for Xmas from two separate family members because I am getting ready to go on my first deployment.

I was able to read the book very quickly because the style of writing is uncomplicated and blunt. I imagine it goes along with the character of the author. I have a lot in common with Ms. Williams, and I can believe her experiences and the situations she found herself in. I also know that I have never had many of the same experiences because I chose to follow another military path. Being an older and educated woman when I joined the military I quickly chose to become an officer, and therefore have taken my know-it-all attitude and applied it to making life better for my Soldiers. If Ms. Williams felt that she could do so much of a better job than everyone else around her, then she should have stepped up to the challenge rather than criticizing those who were trying to do the right thing. It did help me understand what some of my own female enlisted Soldiers might be going through. Ms. Williams' book does cast a negative shadow on what women are trying to achieve in today's military; however, I cannot fault Ms. Williams for writing her personal experience.

More women should take the time to write their experiences for the rest of the world to understand. If the world heard from more women there would be a broader selection of experiences to gleam ones opinions from. I applaud Ms. Williams for taking the time to share her story. Being a woman in the military can be a very trying ordeal, but as the majority of us feel - it is who we are and nothing else can satisfy our own desire for the adventure and challenge of being a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
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