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Powder: Writing by Women in Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq Paperback – March 1, 2008
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For straightforward literary value, K.G. Schneider's introduction to Air Force basic training, "Falling In," serves as both first-rate primer for the military virgin and a nostalgic tug for prior service members. Old soldiers will smile, recognizing in her hard-lacquered innocence their own clumsy first steps into the parallel universe of martial subculture. Schneider's clear love of words finally breaks through her initial distaste of the shorthand drawl of military patois, and we rejoice with her as she becomes not merely in, but of, her adopted global family.
Powder is blemished by the cant of its creators, their nakedly political agenda bleeding through every syllable of their preface and the foreword by Helen Benedict, a Columbia University journalism professor. The self-righteous near-understanding of the editors is further betrayed by the pseudo-definitions of grunt jargon sprinkled throughout the book; these should have been farmed out to someone with the pitch-perfect ear of, say, K.G. Schneider.
By now, we're all aware that post-modernists can't see the forest for the trees they're busily reducing to sawdust, but doctrinaire shrillness is irrelevant to the value of this text. The lucid narratives and whiskey-strong poetic imagery of Powder beg no feminist apology. Skip the prefatory nonsense and plunge into its forest of words. Like Little Red Riding Hood on her fabled mission to win the heart and mind of Grandma, you'll find it strange, frightening, and ultimately rewarding.