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.)
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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 MurrayCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved