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Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield Hardcover – April 21, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 462 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An unforgettable story of female soldiers breaking the brass ceiling. The women who answered America’s call to serve show that our military is stronger when it engages both halves of the population. This book will inspire you and remind you of the power that comes with defying limits.” (Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In)

“Gayle Tzemach Lemmon expertly gives readers an inside look at what it takes to work alongside America’s elite forces. The book is a gripping, moving, and well-told war story, but more importantly it offers the first glimpse into a historic program.” (Kevin Maurer, author of Gentlemen Bastards)

“Lemmon has done her homework. . . . She is a strong and capable guide. . . . With a fine eye for detail, she shows us what set this program apart.” (Foreign Policy)

“A tremendous story. . . . Very moving.” (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)

Ashley’s War shares the remarkable stories of one of the first teams of women serving in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. This team forged the path for American women who serve in harm’s way all over the world and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice.” (Senator John McCain)

Ashley’s War quietly grips the reader with the untold story of a small group of women selected to serve in combat alongside the US’s best soldiers. . . . Rich storytelling. . . . Compelling. . . . In battle as in life, these women refuse to quit.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“Fascinating and often moving, Ashley’s War follows one of the early groups of women who volunteered to serve alongside special operations soldiers, vividly portraying their training, their early missions as they learn their jobs, their bonds of friendship, and their reckoning with the toll of war. Remarkable.” (Phil Klay, author of Redeployment)

From the Back Cover

In 2010 the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other special operations teams on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. The idea was that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not. Though officially banned from combat, female soldiers could be "attached" to different teams, and for the first time women throughout the Army, the National Guard, and the Reserves heard the call to join male soldiers on special ops missions. Each had her own reason for wanting to serve alongside America's finest fighters—for wanting, as the recruiting poster advertised, "to be part of history."

In Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses exhaustive firsthand reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women handpicked from across the Army, and of the remarkable hero at its heart: First Lieutenant Ashley White. Lemmon reveals how First Lieutenant White and the pioneers of CST-2 worked to earn the respect of combat-tested special operations warriors and illuminates the very human stakes of their battlefield successes.

Transporting readers into the little-known world of the CSTs, a community of fierce women bound together by valor, danger, and the desire to serve, Ashley's War is a gripping combat narrative and a testament to the unbreakable bond of friendship born of war.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 21, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006233381X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062333810
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (462 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am usually not into writing negative reviews. I am an Army Veteran and admire the female soldiers in this story. I admire their strengths and ability to pioneer and tough out a difficult and dangerous mission. My problem is w/ the writer. Almost every page dwells of physical strengths of these soldiers....ie: how many push ups, miles run etc. That portion of their training needs to be told but enough already. Not much or no time is spent on their cerebral skills, problem solving, Afghan language skills, weapons skills, leadership and stress under fire abilities, etc. These soldiers have these skills...not fair to them to cut that portion so short and just highlite their abilities as if they are just "Gym Rats"
And totally missing are the details of their missions. All I get is instructions to Afghan women and children is: "Go hide in the corner...You are safe now" or expecting an Afghan woman, straight away to rat on her Taliban husband.
This story should have been written by a competent combat writer, female or male not important. Again, I admire the female soldiers and their story, and especially Ashley White and her family and the wonderful legacy they continue to keep alive. Well Done!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book tells the story of women serving alongside Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, as part of a group known as Cultural Support Teams. Focusing on one particular class of women to graduate from the training program, it provides a strong, factual account of their selection, training, and deployment alongside the Army Rangers in Afghanistan. In particular, it relates the individual story of one of these soldiers, Ashley White - her background, why she signed on for the program, and what happened to her on her deployment.

The book's strength is its factual data - why the military needed this program, who these women were, and what experiences they had. However, the book is emotionally flat. I finished it with a sense that there was more I could have learned about how these women faced the stress of combat, how the Rangers they supported were affected by their presence, and whether the military leadership's position on women in combat was truly changed by the exceptional performance of this group, or simply bowed to growing societal pressures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was truly moved by the fierce determination of these women to do whatever it took to better serve their country. It is an extremely important book that tells the story of a band of extremely strong women, who became "sisters" on the battlefield. A story about a groundbreaking military program and the women who served along side our military special forces. It's a story most of us would have never known about without this brilliantly written book. I applaud these women and their courage to make a difference in the world. Read this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished Ashley's War in one VERY late night. It is gripping and reads like an action thriller. From the "omg, captain obvious moment" at the beginning of the book that set up the reason why we needed women on the front lines in Afghanistan (half the population in a conservative Muslim country had valuable intelligence and yet wouldn't talk to male soldiers) to the call-to-serve and women's backstories to the front line action when they were deployed, this book never lost its momentum.

I could not recommend it more highly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is FASCINATING to hear about war through these women's eyes…women who are fast-roping out of helicopters with Special Ops warriors! Someone realized that Afghanistan is a different culture; and to gain intelligence there, our troops had to question some of the most isolated people anywhere, Afghan women. In that culture, a male American soldier searching & questioning an Afghan woman is enough to start a war, so they trained an elite group of female American soldiers to do that job. Reading about the training is fascinating. These are their, at times, terrifying and always touching stories of what they went through for our country. The details of Ashley White's, as well as the other female soldiers', experiences are riveting. This is extremely well-written and researched. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon has all the drama and rising tension of a thriller. Even though this amazing story is told with the dispassionate voice of a narrator who never resorts to verbal histrionics to portray the drama, make no mistake: this book about the first "Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield" is compelling in every way.

Special Ops Needed Special Assistance

Everyone has heard of SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, Army Ranger Snipers, and the other elite special operations units serving our country. If you're into military memoirs, you probably know about JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) who coordinates special op forces, along with all the other acronyms regarding the world of the modern warrior. The modern male warrior. Special ops and combat troops have always been the purview of men. Afghanistan changed that. Suddenly, our country was in a war where they couldn't stop, search, or speak to the women of Afghanistan. Even when soldiers thought they were being sensitive to the Muslim religious tenets, they often unwittingly committed offenses.

To some stationed in Afghanistan, it became readily apparent that women could gain access to places and people forbidden to men. Thus the idea of Cultural Support Teams, staffed by women, was born. Women of the CST could build relationships and gain information from women in ways men simply could not.

Ashley's War is the story of the women of CST-2 who went through selection aka Hell Week in hopes of obtaining a place in the special ops community and be posted with a special ops team in Afghanistan.
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