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A Few Good Women: America's Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Foreign enemies are less challenging than domestic ones in this earnest history of women's struggle for entry into and acceptance within the armed forces. Ex-army psychologist Monahan and ex-navy nurse Neidel-Greenlee (coauthors of And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II) argue that while America has increasingly relied on women to perform crucial military tasks, sometimes under fire, reactionaries in the military and Congress, citing feminine delicacy and other hoary sexist myths, have resisted according them the status, equal pay, opportunities, and respect they deserve. The authors adorn their chronicle of hard-fought institutional change with the generally gung-ho recollections of women soldiers, from WWII's WAACs and WAVEs to today's female machine gunners and paratroopers. The authors reserve their heaviest fire for those who oppose putting women in combat roles, especially Sen. James Webb; in a vitriolic critique, they conjecture that God invented death for the express purpose of ridding the world of people like Webb who prefer subjective opinions to objective facts.... This is an occasionally inspiring, but often plodding and doctrinaire account of America's women in uniform. 83 photos. (Feb. 24)
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Images of women in the military have historically centered on volunteers cooking meals or nursing the wounded. Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee, former military women, debunk that image with this history of American women on the front line in battle and in the struggle for full equality in the military. During WWI, the military began reluctantly accepting women, mostly assigning them to clerical work. Once women gained the right to vote, they were able to push ahead with efforts to overcome social conventions that assumed they were pacifists by nature or best suited to supportive roles. Drawing on interviews and archival materials, the authors recount the long history of the various women’s auxiliaries before women were fully accepted into the military, the long and ongoing struggle for equal pay and opportunity in the military, and fights against sexual indignities. They also chronicle patriotism and bravery as women have served in battle through WWII, Vietnam, and more recent wars in the Middle East. Photographs and interviews with women who have served in the military enliven this fascinating book. --Vanessa Bush