- Series: Security and Professional Intelligence Education Series (Book 10)
- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: Scarecrow Press (December 8, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0810867931
- ISBN-13: 978-0810867932
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,523,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Woman's War: The Professional and Personal Journey of the Navy's First African American Female Intelligence Officer (Scarecrow Professional ... Professional Intelligence Education Series)
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Harris became the first black woman to work in military intelligence when she joined the U.S. Navy in 1973. She has worked in every major conflict, from the cold war to the more recent challenges of cyberwar, but her particular battlefield has been sexism and racism in the military. She recalls her early desire to join the military despite the decidedly antimilitary mood of the nation because of the Vietnam War. An early mentor, when she was at the University of Denver School of International Studies, was Josef Korbel, Madeline Albright's father. When she joined the navy, there were few women, and they were mostly confined to nursing or administrative work. When opportunities did open up, she had to guard against being treated as a token or being bullied in the male-dominated culture. Harris rightly sees the lessons of stamina and determination learned from her personal and professional life as applying more broadly to women beyond the military. (Booklist)
A revealing look at the inner workings of the United States Intelligence community....This informative and fact-filled book answers many questions the public may have about how our leaders make tactical decisions in times of national emergencies. The behind-the-scenes look at the massive amount of data that must be sorted, and its importance evaluated, boggles the mind. (The Durango Herald News)
A Woman's War is an inspirational story for career intelligence professionals in general and for African American women in particular. A really valuable contribution to the intelligence literature. (Studies In Intelligence)
This autobiography is part personal journal, part motivational speech, part history, and part how women began to play key roles in the intelligence field. . . .The book is full of ideas, advice, historical moments, and life. It is not a heavy read, and can be picked up and put down over a period of time without losing its value. In some ways, it provides a reality check to those thinking of joining the armed forces; for others, it is a story of determination, perseverance, spirituality, and success. (American Intelligence Journal)
About the Author
Gail Harris spent 28 years in the Navy working as an intelligence officer.
Pam McLaughlin is a retired teacher and has been working since retirement as a ghost writer and copy editor.
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How could this story not be compelling? From the age of five, Gail says, she wanted to join the Navy. She wanted to brief combat pilots as an intelligence officer. Coming from a family that was just escaping poverty in her high school years, Gail faced a struggle. She describes herself as introverted and socially awkward, yet totally focused on her goal.
I just wish Gail had chosen a stronger coauthor and aimed for a top publisher, rather than tell her story in a series about professional intelligence. Much of the writing is pedestrian. The chapter titles and sub-headings practically scream for an editor. Worst of all, Harris strays from her compelling narrative to impart simplistic lessons about life. Stories are told out of sequence and gaps are evident. For instance, how did Harris survive OCS? She doesn't seem to be especially athletic. And how did she develop her sense of humor and astute political radar after years as a self-described introvert?
We do get more detail about the role of intelligence officers than I've seen anywhere else. The job is far from glamorous. She seems to spend a lot of time analyzing reports and scrutinizing photos. She does get some great assignments and she gets to work with aviation crews, but she makes her own luck and opportunity most of the time.
The book gets four stars because, despite these flaws, Harris has a great story to tell. I love the ways she found to deal with detractors. Her put-downs are gems, although some would get her written up on harassment charges if presented today.
Harris now is a popular speaker. I wish she'd hire a first-rate coauthor (they don't come cheap) and aim for a top publisher. Her stories deserve to be better known. As she says, nobody knows about her because she's never been associated with scandal. Still she's got some salty stories here. Let's hope she gets a revised book with a broader audience.
Harris paints a truthful story of her experience, not just as an officer, but as a human being. The book is peppered with personal incidents giving us insight into her world and the Navy. She allows us to see her foibles and her strengths.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in military intelligence, to anyone who's interested in an amazing woman's journey, and to any father who has a daughter.
A Woman's War describes vividly what a career in military Intelligence requires in terms of commitments and management skills, and can be recommended to anyone considering a career in intelligence.
This book is part of the Scarecrow Professional Intelligence Education Series.