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Proud to Be: My Life, The Airforce, The Controversy Hardcover – November 18, 1997

3.0 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Kelly Flinn might have been a fine pilot, but she's not much of a writer. That said, her book, Proud to Be, still manages to hold your interest and elicit your sympathy. Flinn, the first female bomber pilot in the United States Air Force, achieved a different sort of notoriety when she was forced to leave the service in the wake of an affair with a married enlisted man. In the civilian world, stories like Flinn's are a dime a dozen and, though painful for the parties involved, hardly the stuff of national controversy. In the military, however, sex is a hot-button issue. Already racked by the Tailhook scandal a few years ago (for which not a single male participant was punished), the Air Force whipped up a storm of controversy when it threatened Flinn with a court-martial for her adulterous behavior.

Certainly Flinn is not blameless in all this; she admits to her involvement with an enlisted man who was married to an enlisted woman, though Flinn is rather disingenuous when it comes to accepting responsibility for her actions. Nevertheless, the real story behind Kelly Flinn's run-in with the Air Force is less about sex than double standards in the military. Think what you will about Flinn, but her book raises some important and troubling questions about America's military establishment.

From Booklist

The perky adulteress airs her side of the armed forces melodrama.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (November 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375501096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375501098
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on February 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Proud to Be" is a memoir by Kelly Flinn, a former United States Air Force officer who was the first woman to pilot a B-52 bomber. A sex scandal led to her 1997 resignation from the Air Force; she presents her side of the story in this book. While the story she tells is interesting, her approach to the material is quite troubling.

The book has a sleazy, self-serving tone. She constantly complains about the Air Force and tries to present herself as a victim, even while candidly admitting her violations of military rules governing sexual conduct. Typical quotes from the book are as follows: "I was a prime target for a predator" (p. 159); "I've [...] been singled out for shame in the media spotlight because I am a woman" (239). Of her married lover she writes, "But I just couldn't get him out of my mind" (168). Her constant whining becomes tiresome quickly.

Flinn seems to relish making allegations about perverse and scandalous sex within the Air Force community. On the Air Force social scene in Minot, North Dakota she claims, "Everybody was sleeping with everybody" (148). She seems to imply that her adultery should be excused because of the alleged piggish behavior of others in Air Force circles.

Ultimately, Flinn's argument falls apart because she seems to want to have it both ways: it appears she wants the reader to see her as both a strong, capable warrior and as a pitiable, abused victim. The overall gossipy and narcissistic feel of the book is quite distasteful. Still, it's an intriguing narrative, and despite the book's flaws Flinn's story raises some serious issues that are worth pondering.
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Format: Hardcover
Kelly Flinn ambles her way through her side of the story with little regard for truth or logic. There's definitely a high pitched whine which becomes ever more nerve numbing as one wades through this piece. I felt she contradicted herself on what she was told when as well as what was expected of her. Readers should realize key facts were also neglected. She talks about the hard life and the lonely nature of a woman at a lonely base in North Dakota. She talks about her "love" and need for companionship which drove her first to an enlisted man and then an enlisted woman's spouse. She doesn't mention that this happens within her FIRST MONTH on base! She also ignores or downplays the fact that two male pilots at this base were also removed for sexual misconduct and lying within months of her "troubles." The one truly interesting point isn't how the military wronged Ms Flinn or failed to teach her that lying, cheating and abetting others in cheating were wrong. The most interesting point is the effectiveness of a modern PR campaign in creating a symbol of purity and persecution from someone who failed to learn the basics of right and wrong despite everything including the U.S. expenditure of over $3 million and over 15,000 training hours. With her firm no longer on retainer, there's not much left. Read it for the poignancy of a soul lost or as an opportunity squandered, but as a saga of the struggle of morality in the military you'd best look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Pre-mature and immature come to mind when considering my comments for this book. Flinn vented at the Air Force and its operating procedures as if, after eight years of service, she was still a SMACK (Soldier Minus Ability, COMMON SENSE, and Knowledge.) Say she has a fit of nervousness on one of her bomber test flights and accidentally drops her nuclear bombs - would she dare to ask for another second chance then? Would I ever want to be a passenger on a commercial jet she wants to fly - NO WAY! She is a spooky character who quite openly documented extremely inconsistent behavior in how she wanted to conform yet be an exception, wanted to be one of the guys yet be a woman, wanted guidance yet wanted to lead, she excelled in some areas of her flying career yet was remedial in others, she wanted to be strong yet was weak. Flinn disappoints not only in telling her story but the lack of color used. For example, her description of life at the Air Force Academy was bland and narrow compared with Carol Barkalow's richly described experience at West Point in "In The Men's House." I think she is lucky to have the general discharge and didn't do herself many favors in writing this book. Someday, when she grows up, she'll quite possibly regret the words she has penned while still recovering from not getting her way and realizing she can't have it all. It is my hope that her behavior won't ruin the hard fought path that true women soldiers have paved before her.
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By Chris Schumann on September 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Kelly Flinn was not "forced" to resign, she accepted a resignation because she knew she would be convicted. Her crime was not "falling love with the wrong man," her crime (in addition to adultery) was disobeying a lawful order to cease the relationship. Kelly Flinn and the feminists who love her saw her case as another example of an out of touch military hell bent on railroading her promising career. Hogwash. The reality is that she was given several opportunities to end the relationship. She instead chose to disobey direct orders. Rather comforting knowing that she was piloting nuclear capable aircraft. She played the media card and boo-hooed on 60 minutes. The Air Force, in an effort to protect HER privacy, kept quiet. It cost them in the PR battle, but they won the war, because Flinn no longer wears the uniform. This book is spin at its ugliest, don't waste your money.
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