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I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles Hardcover – April 14, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A former stripper, Burana (Strip City) married a major in the U.S. Army and records, in this heartfelt though long-winded confessional, her attempts to render their two very different worlds compatible. Burana enjoyed a decidedly checkered past, from accidental teenage communist to peep-show girl and stripper in New York and San Francisco (she fondly recalls her Playboy shoot), before meeting Major Mike at a ceremony in a Brooklyn cemetery in 2000. She was attracted by his sense of order and honor, even charmed by his military jargon, while he admired her rebelliousness, though these same qualities would challenge their relationship over time. Living together in a condo near Fort Meade, Fla., where Mike was stationed, segued into a quick marriage (she called herself a War on Terror bride), before he was deployed to Iraq for six months in 2003, creating for her a painful personal trial of waiting and self-discipline. Their move to West Point underscored her new role as military wife, and she embarked on a gloomy, unstable period of psychological turmoil requiring therapy and medication for her own brand of post-traumatic stress disorder. Marriage counseling worked for them, bucking the high divorce rate within the armed forces, and Burana concludes her memoir on a positive note, having made peace with the army's fallibility and found her own place in it. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* What’s a woman like me doing in a place like this? That’s the question former punk-rock stripper and Playboy pinup Burana ponders many times after marrying Major Mike, a military intelligence officer and professor at West Point. This disarming memoir recounts the couple’s unlikely courtship (they met in a cemetery) and Burana’s perpetually arduous adjustment to life as a military wife. The challenges for the two came hard and fast. Seemingly moments after they were married, Mike was deployed to Iraq. Burana found herself lonely and alone, living among women who baked cookies, coddled toddlers, and generally toed the line. Mike returned from war quiet and withdrawn, but soon everything was fine again—or so they thought. Then Mike started feeling the effects of his harrowing ordeals overseas just as Burana began grappling with memories of an abusive childhood. The emotional battles they faced nearly brought them down, but the two soldiered on, determined to repair lives fractured by a brutal war and a painful past. Burana (Strip City, 2001) writes with bracing honesty and wit. Of keeping company with West Point wives, she writes: “Mostly . . . it seemed to me like a supportive sorority. But sometimes, it was like Mean Girls with lawn ornaments.” --Allison Block

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Weinstein Books; First Edition edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602860831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602860834
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,390,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Woodruff on April 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read other books by Lily Burana, I knew "I Love A Man in Uniform" would be sharp, entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny - which it is. What I didn't know was how tremendously moving it would be. The author presents an honest warts-and-all examination of both the Army's role in the world and an independent woman's role in marriage.

This is a book that combines a self-fellating walrus and a stripper with hemorrhoids with a serious exploration of mental health issues and an Army insider's admission of why Abu Ghraib is a disaster for America and the world. Burana tackles every subject with a fresh, sassy voice backed by a serious sense of honor. The result is a surprising, touching tribute to both marriage and the Army, compelling even to an old anti-military-establishment cynic like me.
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Format: Hardcover
From the very first paragraph of her memoir, ex-stripper Burana is battling the ghosts of perfectionism, those prudish voices that would have her believe that a woman with a past has no future. In time she learns that the way to a bright future IS by coming to terms with her past.

She also sees that the military wives she rubs elbows with are more than Stepford Wives devoted to children, kitchen, and church. Her willingness to admit to her erroneous assumptions about others, especially where her stereotyping of them is concerned, makes Burana a sympathetic self-reporter.

I can relate to much of Burana's dilemma, having witnessed at close range my mother's challenges in the absence of a husband who was "on-again, off-again" for a great deal of their marriage, due to his military deployments. This dynamic is hell on any marriage; to keep marching on at times, it takes true grit, which Burana has in spades.

Burana describes her personal challenges in straightforward if sometimes talky prose. At times, I felt as if she were musing to fill up page count. I have read Burana's first two books, and I enjoyed them both more than UNIFORM. However, she is a highly skilled raconteuse. She is at her best here when she relates quick stories that make a sharp point, such as her reunion with porn goddess Nina Hartley and Hartley's producer-director husband. In such settings, her descriptions of people, places, and objects are punchy and perceptive.

For me, her memoir really takes flight on page 198, with the phrase, "I can clearly identify the moment I started going nuts." For the next hundred pages, Burana's story is gripping as she and her husband struggle to come to terms with a marriage on the verge of collapse.
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By am2610 on August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I may be the oddball out here but this was one of the worst military spouse books I've read. I was very excited to get it and read about her story of being a military spouse. While she does speak of her life on base, she spends the majority of her book complaining about her mental issues. I read this book while my husband was deployed, I got it as a gift to myself for reaching the halfway mark. What a waste, it made me even more depressed and annoyed. She spends so much time whining I don't see how anyone can say this was worth the read?! My copy will not be packed in my next PCS, goodwill here I come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm adding this review on Memorial Day, which seems fitting. I never thought about this holiday except as a good opportunity to buy linens. Now, after reading Lily's book, I'm acutely attuned to the sacrifices of military members and their families. Even though my own father was in the Navy, I had reductive ideas about who "the real military" was -- my dad was a thoughtful, irreverent Democrat for whom the military was a way to pay for med school, but I imagined that for people who actually wanted to be part of this club, independent thinking was a no-no. In my head, they were all hard-right, sexist, lock-step followers. But Lily's portrait of her husband Mike, and of the military in general, educated me. I Love a Man in Uniform offers a nuanced, sometimes hilarious, often moving picture of a subculture many of us liberals know nothing about. So on this holiday, I say thanks to military families for their sacrifices. And thanks to this book for teaching me.
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Format: Hardcover
This, simply put, is a really good book. It's far, far more than a military wife memoir--Burana goes through a period of serious depression and doubt, leaves her husband, and finds herself looking back over the whole--call it first half--of her life in a way that I think everyone needs to do in order to grow up--and I mean grow up in a good way. The military--like any institution, like marriage, like work, like life--isn't perfect, and she has to learn to love it and live within it not by ignoring its imperfections, or by "embracing" them, but by accepting them.

The first third of the book is spent getting to know Burana, and when things start happening, you find that you've fully invested--you understand that she wasn't able to tell you much about how she felt while her husband was deployed because she herself wasn't sure how she felt, or how to balance that with how she felt she should felt. It's not a book about his journey, but about hers. A really excellent memoir. On the surface, we share no obvious traits--I am not a military wife, I haven't suffered from the traumas she shares, I was never a Goth kid or a stripper--but I identified with Burana and thought I grew, in some small way alongside her. I highly recommend this book.
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