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While They're at War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront Hardcover – February 2, 2006
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Starred Review. By the time Beth Pratt's husband returned from Iraq, they had been apart longer than they had known each other. Not long after Charlie Bootes's first deployment, his wife, Marissa Bootes, became a leader in one of the army's Family Readiness Groups, heading up phone trees and organizing girls' nights out while also managing a job and motherhood. When three uniformed soldiers came to Michelle Hellerman's door, she thought that they were picking her up for a comfort team; she didn't imagine that the terrible news was for her. "This is the war story you never hear," writes Henderson about what is actually a series of engrossing and often heartbreaking stories built from more than 100 interviews. The Quaker wife of a military chaplain, Henderson is a compassionate expert witness. For military families, her explanations of the official and unofficial support systems that serve (and sometimes fail) Fort Bragg's soldiers amount to a useful handbook. For civilians, the stories provide a revealing look into what it really means when a country goes to war. Though many of the soldiers Henderson writes about are serving in Iraq, she takes neither side in the war debate, and keeps to a style that is both intimate and professional. This is an emotional book that effectively plies the complexities of military life. (Feb)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
An all-volunteer military now means that most Americans don't personally know someone serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere, which means we also don't know much about the toll on their families. Henderson, whose husband is a navy chaplain, profiles military families, focusing on two wives coping with life at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Beth Pratt and Marissa Bootes face the challenges of their husbands' first deployment as junior enlisted men, and they are full of anxieties while struggling to maintain emotional and financial stability. Henderson details the support groups developed by military wives to bolster themselves against depression, substance abuse, infidelity, the pressures of single parenthood, suicidal impulses, and husbands who return with emotional problems. One group stays in such compulsive contact that a husband jokingly calls them a cult. This powerful, revealing, and sometimes painful book offers a look behind the scenes of military families most often seen during tearful good-byes, joyful homecomings, and "the occasional yellow-ribbon moment." Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Henderson has a great talent for painting a detailed picture in shades of gray -- there is no black or white in these stories, no absolute right or wrong. When she documents the coming-apart of a relationship, Henderson puts herself into each partner's point of view. There are no villains, just people striving to do their best in what are often difficult and heartbreaking circumstances. These stories inspire compassion, and often pride and admiration of the service members, their spouses, and their families. Henderson incorporates much useful information concerning resources for military spouses and families, and includes many illuminating statistics without ever being dry or boring.
WHILE THEY'RE AT WAR gave me a new appreciation for the sacrifices involved in a military career, sacrifices made both by service members and by the family members that love and support them. Many thanks to Henderson for telling an important story both we civilians and our leaders need to understand in evaluating the full costs of war to our society.
It should also be read by anyone in a military family and by the general public to understand military family life.
Henderson's book should be part of mass circulation; civilians, military spouses and the member, law-makers and all of the above should read something--a blurb if nothing else--to recognize the greatness of our military and their spouses. We military spouses are a truly great and special kind, Henderson really makes this clear.
I really appreciate her concise, easy to understand language. Her message is clear and she doesn't cloud her book with a lot of verbage that non-military won't understand, or language that won't translate service-to-service. The book is broken down well and she has a great selection of extended reading and websites.
If you are a military spouse--read it! Even if you aren't--read it and offer a little more kindness to a military spouse when you meet one.