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Sister in the Band of Brothers: Embedded with the 101st Airborne in Iraq (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – March 19, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When the Pentagon decided to embed reporters with the troops in Iraq, Skiba knew she had to be there. Having already covered such global hot spots as the Gaza Strip, Kosovo, and the Soviet Union, she didn't need this assignment to round out her resume; but the challenge of being at the forefront of historical developments is hardwired into her journalist's DNA. It wasn't the only challenge she faced. As one of only 60 female reporters to go to Iraq, Skiba, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Washington correspondent, found herself the lone female civilian amid the 2,300 soldiers of the 159th Aviation Brigade. In describing her battles with sandstorms, scorpions, and sexism, Skiba's dramatic and often deeply revealing memoir offers straightforward testimony to the professional and personal sides of both the military and media. Simultaneously making fun of her own fears and limitations while praising the valor and dedication of the soldiers, Skiba's candid, self-deprecating anecdotes artfully balance this no-holds-barred account of war's grim reality. Carol Haggas
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"Day by bad day, Katherine Skiba gives us an intimate chronicle of what it was really like to be an embedded reporter in Iraq. Her story is unromantic, uncensored, often funny, always vividly detailed and peopled by a wild cast of uniformed characters. Sister in the Band of Brothers is both a public service and a good read."--James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II

"Katherine Skiba's book Sister in the Band of Brothers: Embedded with the 101st Airborne in Iraq is mesmerizing and fascinating in depicting the human side of war--the fears, the excitement, the humor and the reality--all wrapped up into one--and the sadness of it all. It's a wonderful gripping book and could only have been written by a sensitive, perceptive woman."--Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers columnist and author of Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times

"This is just a wonderful book. It's insightful, funny, harrowing, and honest. It's a moving testament to our U.S. troops, so many of them still kids, and their willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. But at the delicious bottom of it is Kathy Skiba's own voice, a female journalist in the throes of a terrible war, willing to bare her soul and, if necessary, her own life."--Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights

"For too many years the media and the military have seen themselves as adversaries, rather than as institutions equally vital to democratic self-government. Katherine Skiba's engaging account of her time with the 101st Airborne goes far to bridging the gulf between the two, and does so with insight, humor and--what is especially rare in any journalist--humility."-Paul Gigot, editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page

"A great read and significant addition to the literature of war reporting. More than most of the reporters, Skiba reveals what it was really like to be inside the base camps in Kuwait and Iraq, alongside soldiers preparing for and fighting in the war. You can almost scrape the grit from your teeth. And I especially liked her candor in discussing both her fears and her determination in taking on this risky assignment."--Kay Mills, author of A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page

"A unique and engaging memoir of one journalist's experiences in a major military campaign. Skiba shows us the daily lives of soldiers in the field and, equally important and valuable, reveals how a war correspondent actually operates in the field. Will be a must for journalism courses."--William Hammond, author of Reporting Vietnam: Media and Military at War

"Sister in the Band of Brothers takes us into the new world of battle in the 21st Century and provides a uniquely personal, ground level view of men and women in combat."--Bill Kovach, Chairman, Committee of Concerned Journalists

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First edition. edition (March 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070061382X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700613823
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,435,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Memoirs of essentially ordinary people are difficult to critique. These are, after all, average people telling about their lives. They have, unlike some politicians or controversial people, no secrets to hide.

Katherine Skiba comes across as a competent journalist who sort of went to war and was deeply impressed by the process and her experiences. I say "sort of went to war" because she really didn't face the enemy in combat. The only direct threat from enemy action may have been an Iraqi missile headed in the general direction of her camp at that time. This quibble is not intended as a criticism of Skiba because in another sense, she did go to war. She went to a short training camp for embedded journalists and then went through the same experiences every other soldier, sailor and airman went through. They left their families, the familiarities of their home life and went off thousands of miles to possibly fight a war.

These experiences clearly impacted Skiba. She records in great detail the flow of life in a series of temporary camps leading to the invasion of Iraq. All of her visions are sharp, sometimes augmented by memories of her father who had been a soldier in WWII.

Much to her credit, Skiba didn't bring any political bias to her memoir. She is at one with the troops around her, though she didn't personally like everyone around her which leads to part of my ambivalence about Skiba. Skiba is clearly a firm believer in the old cliche that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. She hammers several military people she dislikes over and over again because in one way or another they offended her. My reaction as a reader is that Skiba is intolerant, petty and very, very vindicative.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Judy A. Moore on October 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a retired soldier, many of Katherine's experiences (and her responses to them) resonated with me, particularly her relationships with male soldiers and her personal reactions post-deployment. I admire her ability to articulate those experiences to the rest of us who weren't with her in Kuwait (or during her stateside preparation.) Definitely a good read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David D. Daley on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Katherine M. Skiba went off to the war in Iraq and saw the elephant, as soldiers used to say about going into combat. Lucky for the rest of us, Skiba then came home and wrote a book about her experiences. Sister in the Band of Brothers is a bang-up book that gives readers a front-row, ring-side seat at the real war over there, a war that, through her writing, can be heard and smelled, unlike the sanitized version seen so often in TV reports featuring nose-camera film from ten-thousand feet.

The book is breezy, irreverent at times - Skiba had a real knack for getting into the faces of overbearing, pencil-pusher officer types -- and chock-full of poignant stories about what going to war really means. As a Vietnam combat vet, I thought she powerfully captured the moment of truth that coming under fire brings. There is none of this macho, me-Papa Hemingway posturing by Skiba on the day the war began when the Iraqis fired a missile at her 101st Airborne camp - just an honest depiction of the chest-tightening, stomach-churning realization that you could die.

Taking cover in a fox-hole, hyperventilating and gulping for air, wondering if she would ever see her husband again, Skiba promised to be a better person if God got her home safe. She came back and this book is a pretty good start on all those promises made.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By maccins ingersoll on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kathy Skiba must be one of the bravest, toughest women out there, penning countless news stories and shooting and transmitting her own photos under unrelentingly tough wartime conditions.

Her book is a gripping, fast read as she takes you through what it was like in more than seven weeks at the front. I marvel at the wealth of information she collected on the fighting men and women she met, in order to tell their very human stories.

She keeps a stiff upper lip throughout the experience, never complaining about the challenges she faced, including wearing a 22-pound Kevlar vest, a helmet and chemical suit in the desert heat. Having to use 55-gallon drums (out in the open) as a latrine had to be the worst.

Skiba is the epitome of grace under pressure, and this personal account of the war shows it all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lee Ann Smith on June 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It was amazing to watch history unfold on television by being able to see the "shock and awe" that started the formal portion of the war in Iraq, members of the media detailing the race across the deserts and seeing soldiers on foot patrols in insurgent filled towns. But it was only a portion of history that I was able to view as an outsider. And as a journalist who wanted to be a part of the embedded media, Katherine Skiba helped me put boots on the ground writing about her personal experiences. I have been on other deployments and it's the stories behind the major story that always fascinates me. Daily accounts of the war kept readers informed of what was happening, but learning about the daily lives of soldiers bonded me to those who put themselves in harms way. Telling the story through her perspective brought me closer to feelings of facing the unknown with fears of what could happen and the excitement of being a part of history. You realize that those involved knew the danger, but pushed it back so that it didn't affect their mission or performance. While we watched the war from the comforts of our homes, these men and women were fighting dust and dirt, separation from family, using makeshift showers and toilets, eating MRE's, dealing with long periods of waiting for new orders, trying to learn any news of what was going on around them and the uncertainty of what each day would bring. These soldiers faced the threat of a missile attack, possible chemical attacks, being shot or blown up and dealing with the agony of losing friends and colleagues. This book gives a different angle of the war - one that puts a face on the men and women who were ready to lay their lives on the line, both the military and the media willing to tell a story.
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