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Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives [Kindle Edition]

Tanya Biank
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $7.59
You Save: $7.40 (49%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

Under the Sabers is a groundbreaking narrative detailing the complex personal challenges Army wives face, presenting a provocative new look at Army life. Tanya Biank goes beyond the sound bites and photo ops of military life and shows what it is really like to be an Army wife--from hauling furniture off the rental truck by yourself at a new duty station when your husband is in the field, to comforting your son who wants his dad home from Afghanistan for his fifth birthday--she takes readers into the hearts and homes of today's military wives.

In the summer of 2002, Army wives were in the headlines after Biank, a military reporter for the Fayetteville Observer, made international news when she broke the story about four Army wives who were brutally murdered by their husbands in the span of six weeks at Fort Bragg, an Army post that is home to the Green Berets, Airborne paratroopers, and Delta Force commandos. By that autumn, Biank, an Army brat herself, realized the still untold story of Army wives lay in the ashes of that tragic and sensationalized summer. She knew the truth--wives were the backbone of the Army. They were strong--not helpless--and deserved more than the sugarcoating that often accompanied their stories in the media.

Under the Sabers tells the story of four typical Army wives, who, in a flash, find themselves neck-deep in extraordinary circumstances that ultimately force them to redefine who they are as women and Army wives. In this fascinating and meticulously researched account, Biank takes the reader past the Army's gates, where everyone has a role to play, rules are followed, discipline is expected, perfection praised, and perception often overrides reality. Biank explores what happens when real life collides with Army convention.

Biank describes what it means to be a wife and mother in a subculture that is in a constant state of readiness for war. In this hard-hitting and powerful book, Biank takes a close look at the other woman--the Army itself--and its impact on wives, marriages, and home life. This story of strength and perseverance is an eye-opener for those who have never experienced military life and an anthem to those women who each day live the "unwritten code."



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this insider's account of the sometimes-lethal strains that military life puts on families, Biank, an award-winning journalist and the daughter of a career army officer, finds much to admire in military spouses. She follows the lives of four women at Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division: the wife of a high-ranking officer who adds luster to her husband's career with her own polish; a senior noncommissioned officer's wife who ambivalently watches her son follow in his father's footsteps; a woman who falls in love with an enlisted man early in his career and struggles with balancing army demands with her own needs; and a former soldier who finds that the counterterrorist operative she married may be just as dangerous to her as he is to terrorists. Though her prose is sometimes clunky and some of the history feels a bit dated, Biank's novelistic sense of detail and suspense vividly demonstrates how "the Army... could bring couples closer together... or it could rip relationships apart." Army wives cope with unpredictable deployments and struggle to raise children alone, often on small paychecks, in a community both tightknit and sharply judgmental. "Army wives serve, too," says Biank—in an institution ambivalent about families. She makes sympathetic both their pride and their tragedies. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The author of this provocative portrait of modern army wives is herself an army wife and comes from an army family. That combination of experience and insight enhances the value of the book's depiction of the army-family community. Basically, army wives these days are more often than not educated professionals but are expected to function enmeshed in a unique hierarchy very different from anything in civilian life. Moreover, they are far more frequently required to move house and home than civilian wives, and their risk of suddenly becoming widows is constant. For this the army has established support networks, but again, those are sui generis. Overall, Biank furnishes a detailed reminder, if any is needed, that the military is still a hierarchical subculture dominated by male values that imposes a considerable burden on those semi-innocent quasi bystanders, army wives. A good choice for military collections of any size. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 690 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (February 7, 2006)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E74ACK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,783 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Reading February 11, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am an Army wife and was thrilled to see a modern look at the military wife. The book is extremely well written. The characters were brought out in a manner that humanized them rather than stereotyped. The book is about Army wives at Ft. Bragg during a short time period and does not truly show how happy a lot of us really are. I finished the book and felt really depressed about the deaths and suicides on Ft. Bragg. The 82nd is unique and many Army wives never set foot there. I am a former soldier as well as the spouse of an Army man with 24 years in and we still love it. We do not just help out during funerals. The fun is missing in this book. It is fun to be part of it all-- we are not duty bound to help each other. We do it because we want to do it. The book also keeps bringing up "clean houses" as if that were the most important thing we care about. She mentions funerals and what woman would want a crowd coming through her house without the chance to straighten up. One of the best Army wife moments I ever had was at West Point when another Army family stopped by at 11am on a Sunday morning and seeing the chaos that my house was in just after church she quickly smiled and said, "I live in my house too." That is what Army wives are really like. There are truly many awesome wives out there and more great marriages than bad. The book focuses on mostly bad marriages and tragedy. In this operational environment I was hoping for an inspirational book about Army wives. This book is a page-turner and I could not put it down. After re-reading the jacket I can say the book does advertise itself as being just what it is, but the publicity around the book suggests it gives insight into the world of all Army wives.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book July 5, 2007
Format:Hardcover
I nearly read this book in one sitting--it was that mesmerizing. As an Army wife for 18 years, I can tell you that Tanya Biank has accomplished what I've never seen: a book about Army life written with a journalist's eye for detail and the understanding, compassionate tone of someone who's been an Army brat and became an Army wife herself. Her research, candor, and writing talents are first-rate as she offers us a window into the lives, personalities, and backgrounds of 4 very different Army wives.

This isn't the definitive book on Army wives--no one can write that because it's a deeply personal and complex subject that defies description. I think the subtitle is unfortunate, "The Unwritten Code of Army Wives," as if it were a tell-all, but don't be put off.

UNDER THE SABERS is part slice-of-life, part cultural commentary, and part news reporting as Biank's portraits of these Army wives intersect with the sensational national headlines of the murders at Fort Bragg. In the process, she articulates the daily challenges we can all relate to, such as frequent moves, solo parenting, social pressures, and anxiety about our husband's safety. UNDER THE SABERS documents an important and unrecognized social history. It will always have a prominent place on my bookshelf, no matter where we live.

Marna Krajeski, author of HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE: THE MOVING LIFE OF A SOLDIER'S WIFE.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating case studies August 10, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As an Army brat and scholar who has done research on the Army life from an anthropological perspective, I found this book very interesting and well-done. It's well-written and is truly in the "case study" style, rather than being a scientific survey of attitudes or events that permeate the lives of Army wives. If that's what you're looking for (as at least one of the disappointed reviewers seems to be) you won't find it here. But if you like to learn about a neglected subculture in the United States by means of closely examining the lives of four disparate Army wives, then this is for you. No, it doesn't include Army husbands, but then the title does say "Wives." Whatever changes are occurring in the Army as far as gender goes, and whether they are positive or negative, the plain fact is that the vast majority of senior officers and NCOs are men, and the vast majority of their spouses are women (don't ask, don't tell, after all). Someone else can write the book on Army husbands, and that could be an interesting read, too. I think the whole point of Ms. Biank's book is that it is the very nature of the military lifestyle that led to the murders at Fort Bragg; they COULD have happened anywhere. The more interesting question is "Why there, why then?" and while Biank doesn't do a stellar job in answering those questions, the fact is there is probably no one "right" answer. Could be coincidence; could be the nature of that particular Army post. While my father worked in Army intelligence, and we sometimes lived on post, it was never the combat-focus in those communities that it seems to be at Fort Bragg. In the Army I saw, there was much more than combat that got done and that was important to the nation's security. At Fort Bragg, life IS focused on combat and readiness for it. Read more ›
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41 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narrow focus, truly depressing, misleading March 13, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book was nothing more than a dreadful look into the lives of a small handful of women who had horrible experiences. Do not judge this book by its cover. Mine displayed a happy couple kissing as they walk out of the church after their wedding under an arch of sabers. What a happy picture. Enjoy it because it's the last happy thing you'll see in this book. The grand title creates the illusion that you will be getting an general, but inside, look at the lives of military wives. A true look at what Army wives face and how they cope.

What it provides is the utterly depressing story of a few women who faced murder, family deaths, illness, abuse, cheating, struggles, and unhappiness. It's not inspiring, and it will certainly not act as any sort of reference for what a new wife might face. As a matter of fact, if I had read this before I married my husband (enlisted infantryman on a career track in the Amry) I would have been terrified about the life ahead.

This title is so misleading that it's almost insulting to military wives who are happy. There are so many women who happily and joyfully approach their military marriages, myself included. We face deployments, moves, seperation, uncertainty, and hard times with faith in our marriages and a true love of our husbands and the Army. We are happy to do whatever necessary to support our husbands, but we also receive love and support in return. We have careers that do not make our husbands jealous, and some of us are even the primary bread winner. We would never think of cheating, and we faithfully provide unwaivering support during deployments. We are happy! And yes, there are families who face struggles, but the community really does come together to help out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Awesome book!! Gives you an inside look!!
Published 27 days ago by Dani
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, although I thought it would be like ...
Excellent book, although I thought it would be like the Army Wives
TV series. It wasn't but still worth reading.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Usually the books are much better than the movie or tv program
It was alright. Usually the books are much better than the movie or tv program, but in this case the tv program was 10 times better. Took me three tries to finish it.
Published 3 months ago by Donna Carre
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, especially since I had lived in NC ...
Loved it, especially since I had lived in NC and can relate to people, places , events from the book
Published 3 months ago by Lorrie Short
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
enjoyed
Published 3 months ago by A GRANNY OF 9
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 4 months ago by MaryChandler
5.0 out of 5 stars It was eye opening.
It was eye opening. My son is in the army so I understood a lot I thought it was well written thank you
Published 5 months ago by Dianna Lynne Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved the book after watching all the shows.
Published 5 months ago by jstreig
4.0 out of 5 stars Army Wives
Interesting to read what happens on military posts. Glad there are people who are willing to tell about it. Thank you.
Published 6 months ago by Janice Bowen
4.0 out of 5 stars well written and real
Although this book is nothing like the TV show, "Army Wives", it is still a very true to life story of how army life really is
Published 6 months ago by Sadkins
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