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The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq 1st Edition

34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807061497
ISBN-10: 0807061492
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The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq + Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq + Girls Come Marching Home, The: Stories of Women Warriors Returning from the War In Iraq
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Benedict's book, filled with compelling and heartbreaking stories, is a groundbreaking testament to the bravery, resilience, and almost insurmountable obstacles faced by women stationed in Iraq.—Deirdre Sinnott, ForeWord

"Whether the soldiers' language is plainspoken or poetic, Helen Benedict's book gives them a place to tell their stories. . . . The Lonely Soldier has strong merit as an account of women's military experience in this long and reckless war."—Amy Herdy, Ms.

"Benedict's brilliant and compassionate reporting is neither left nor right—it's human. . . . You know these women—they are your mother, sister, cousin, daughter. Their stories of injustice in the U.S. military will tear your guts out."—Dale Maharidge, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning And Their Children after Them

"The Lonely Soldier will shock you and enrage you and bring you to tears. It's must reading for everyone who cares about women, justice, fairness, the military, and the United States."—Katha Pollitt, award-winning columnist, The Nation

"A stunning chronicle of abuses suffered by women enlisted in the U.S. Army and serving in Iraq."—Los Angeles Times

"It is hard to determine what is most disturbing about this book—the devious and immoral tactics used by leaders and recruiters to get women to join the military, the terrible poverty and personal violence women were escaping that led them to be vulnerable to such manipulation, the raping and harassing of women soldiers by their superiors and comrades once they got to Iraq, or the untreated homelessness, illnesses, and madness that have haunted [these] women since they came home. . . . A crucial accounting of the shameful war on women who gave their bodies, lives, and souls for their country."—Eve Ensler, playwright, performer, activist, and author of The Vagina Monologues

About the Author

Helen Benedict, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, has written frequently on women, race, and justice. Her books include Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes and the novels The Opposite of Love, The Sailor's Wife, Bad Angel, and A World Like This. Her work on soldiers won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807061492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807061497
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helen Benedict (www.helenbenedict.com) is the prize-winning author of eleven books, the last two of which are about the Iraq War. Her latest novel,"Sand Queen," about a female soldier and an Iraqi civilian in the war, came out in paperback in August, 2012 from Soho Press.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler said about the book, "Every war eventually yields works of art which transcend politics and history and illuminate our shared humanity. Helen Benedict's brilliant new novel has done just that with this century's American war in Iraq. Sand Queen is an important book by one our finest literary artists."

"Sand Queen" is based on Benedict's research for her most recent nonfiction book, "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq" (Beacon Press, 2009 and 2010). She won three major awards for that book and her articles on soldiers: The 2010 Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women's Political Caucus, The Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for 2010, and the 2008 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.

Benedict's writings on women in the military have inspired an ongoing lawsuit against the Pentagon on behalf of women and men who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military, and also inspired the award-winning documentary, The Invisible War. Benedict has also testified twice to Congress on behalf of women in the military. She is a professor of journalism at Columbia University.

Further early praise for "Sand Queen":

"Helen Benedict's compelling story provides an intimate picture of what it means to be a soldier, what it's like to live on the battlefield, and what the ethical choices are that our troops have had to make in Iraq. At times funny, at times grimly painful, Sand Queen offers a new chapter in contemporary American history." -- Roxana Robinson, author of Cost

"Anyone who claims to value the lives of our soldiers should read this powerful, harrowing, and revelatory novel." -- Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day and Trespass

Benedict's earlier novels are The Edge of Eden, The Opposite of Love, The Sailor's Wife, Bad Angel, and A World Like This. The Los Angeles Times and New York and Chicago Public Libraries have named her novels best books of the year, and she has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Freedom Forum.

Her nonfiction includes Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, Portraits in Print and Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault.

Helen Benedict's other articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, Glamour, The Women's Review of Books, and in many other magazines. She has been published in many countries and is included in several anthologies. www.helenbenedict.com.

Photographer Copywright Credit Name: Emma B. O'Connor, 2010.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra126 on June 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a female who is considering joining the military I wanted to read everything I could about the current environment. I purchased this along with others such as Band of Sisters (which is the complete opposite of this book - women who did enjoy the military, even making careers), Joker One, and I Love My Rifle More than You. I could barely put down this book reading horrifying accounts of not just the war in Iraq but the sexual assaults occurring. There is some obvious liberal bias but NOT in regards to what the women say in their own words. All wanted to join the country to do something patriotic and most to elevate themselves out of poverty so it was beyond disappointing to hear how the military treated these women. I believe all the women covered in these stories were in the Army or National Guard- you didn't hear from women in the Air Force, Navy, or Marines (which Band of Sisters). It's also not about just sexual assaults - the parts of Halliburton not getting the soldier's armor for their cars or vests or even food makes you so angry you have to take a deep breath to continue. Even if you're not considering joining the military - this is a good read to see what our military goes through on a grueling basis. These are strong women from all races and income levels who did not wimp out in any shape or form. Very eye-opening.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. Ard on March 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Being a female in the military myself, I can truely relate to these women and there situations. It's about time someone give the female view of how it is to serve and be under-minded and not looked at as an equal. To civilians that probably have no idea. Please read this book and maybe just maybe this could be addressed. Believe it or not the military will listen and take action faster if the concern comes from a non military personal. And what an owesome! title because at times, that's actually what I felt like.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Berger on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not a woman and not a veteran. I am a psychologist who works with veterans, both female and male. This is, so far, the most accurate (and therefore the best) book I have read thus far about the experiences of female soldiers. Almost all the female soldiers I have interviewed report rapes, attempted rapes, and big time sexual harassment by men who are supposed to be their comrades and by the superiors in their chain of command. Some reported it; all were discouraged from doing this and harassed for doing this. Most learned not to report it, perhaps even to themselves. Many of these soldiers talk or do not talk about the rapes as if it is obvious to any idiot that no one will care about it or do anything about it. As a human being, and the father of a daughter, this saddens and horrifies me.

Benedict is also good on the sense of betrayal and loneliness these soldiers experience. Being raped or harassed by your own men is like being an incest victim: the very people who are most supposed to take care of you and be concerned for you, mess you over. Not surprisingly, these soldiers feel betrayed, on guard, and distrustful on a deep and intimate level which does harm to their marriages and their families. It is hard to trust your husband when he is a member of the gender that has screwed you. It is hard to be as casually close to your children as you would like when you don't trust the ability of humans, including yourself, to be compassionate.

Benedict's suggesions for change are good, especially the demand that the military make treating female soldiers in one's command well a criterion for promotion.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Benedict's book is well-written and engrossing, as one would expect from a journalism professor. The book is hard to put down but at the same time, it's extremely painful to read.

Benedict interviews five enlisted women who served in Iraq. The interviewees provided graphic accounts of their experiences, sparing no one, including themselves. At a time when joining the military seems to offer unique economic benefits and stability, it's helpful to realize that the military can also offer painful, life-changing outcomes that destroy the soldier's physical, mental and economic health.

For example, civilians rarely hear about mandatory vaccinations. I met a young female Air Force veteran in my local dog park. She loved the Air Force and her job with the military police, but she was forced to take a medical discharge after getting diabetes from an anthrax vaccine. She will live with this condition for the rest of her life, yet she was denied medical disability benefits until she got a congressman to intervene.

While I suspect these women are not unique, it would be helpful to include at least a couple of stories from women who had positive experiences with the military. In the resource section, the author notes that commanders who treat women respectfully will make a difference. Maybe we could hear from women who served with those commanders. We can learn from strong examples as well as painful ones.

The author provides a long list of recommendations based on what the military "should" do. They're good ideas but unlikely to be heard. It's also unlikely that young women who are considering the military will find this book and read it.

I would suggest that readers write to their congressional representatives, urging them to read this book.
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