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Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know About Women in the Military Paperback – Bargain Price, August 30, 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Advance Praise

Rare as gold is the modern military study that can combine deft cultural insight (into both our own society and those in which our troops are operating) with institutional analysis of the first scholarly order; but Erin Solaro has achieved just that. Women in the Line of Fire is a compelling, masterly work that will infuriate the guardians of traditional thinking by using even more ancient wisdom, along with the best kind of contemporary vision, to make the intellectual case that is already being made in battles all over the world by America's woman warriors.
--Caleb Carr, author of The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians

Women in the Line of Fire is a brave and original contribution that will attain landmark status. This carefully researched and reasoned work will--or should--inspire a national debate among serious American feminists, both women and men, among civilian patriots, government leaders, and among all those who serve in the armed forces. Solaro takes no prisoners as she presents her case--and her case is nuanced, comprehensive, and well argued. She is not in favor of lowering military standards so that women may serve. ... [But she also] views service in the military as a "civic" obligation, both for women and men...[and] explains that new generations of men and women who are serving together accept and depend upon each other. They are capable of friendship and mutual respect and may constitute a new kind of armed force. This book is essential reading for our times.
--Phyllis Chesler PhD, author of Women and Madness and The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom

Erin Solaro has written a taut, engrossing book. Part personal odyssey, extensively researched, she convincingly argues that women not only deserve full participation in the American experiment, but that they have proven their right to bear arms in defense of the Republic alongside their brother soldiers. While the Services have foot-dragged and Congress has prevaricated, women in uniform have been quietly stepping into combat roles according to the demands of the battlefield; rather than threatening the cohesion of formerly all-male units, sister soldiers have become teammates and comrades. Solaro's argument for "civic feminism" is exquisitely made and should become the battle cry for both men and women dedicated to the fullest meaning of American democracy.
--Bob Killebrew, Colonel, US Army retired, author and defense consultant

In her book, Erin Solaro makes a compelling case for dropping all the remaining restrictions on women in the military. She demonstrates convincingly why it is the right thing to do from a national security perspective as well as a moral and cultural perspective. A must read for anyone interested in the future effectiveness of the all-volunteer military.
--Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

I do not subscribe to the sweeping recommendations of this study and I do not agree with the characterization of the Army hierarchy as a monolithic bloc of opposition to the integration of women in the Army or in combat. Nevertheless, this is an important work, comprehensive, well-organized and compelling, with a wealth of information that will be invaluable to personnel managers and leaders of our armed forces.
--Frederick Kroesen, General, US Army retired

A triumphant work on behalf of all women in the U.S. military who contribute in an ever-increasing role in the defense of our nation. Women are on the front lines, in the cockpits and at times leading men in combat. Erin Solaro convincingly tells their fight for equality and recognition in the face of hypocritical opposition from the cultural right.
--Quang X. Pham, former Marine officer and author of A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey

Americans should be so proud of the young lionesses guarding their freedoms. Women in the Line of Fire tells their story and the courage they bring to their jobs.
--Patricia Schroeder, AAP President and CEO and former Member of Congress

Erin Solaro carefully destroys one by one many of the long standing shibboleths erected to exclude women from serving in combat arms...The military world is changing at a rapid rate as Erin points out, but as a Combat Infantry Soldier in two wars, I simply cannot change with it. Combat is killing. And I firmly believe that women are better at giving life than taking it. Having said that, I could not be more proud of the fact that two of my granddaughters decided to serve their Country as soldiers "in the line of fire."... As for me, I would be more comfortable if the American people decided that the law excluding women from serving in combat arms be changed and that the Draft be re-instituted to ensure sufficient numbers of Soldiers for continuing the Global War on Terrorism.
--Volney F. Warner, General, US Army, retired, USMA '50 and patriarch of a military family that includes First Lieutenant Laura Walker, USMA '03, killed in action in Afghanistan

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005174X
  • ASIN: B004E3XE0W
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 4.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,881,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Brownson on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
In conducting my own sociological research and as a former female Marine, I eagerly sought out this book, hoping for real information about the current status and experiences of women in the U.S. military. What I found, however, was 370 pages of self-serving diary-type brooding, anecdotal "evidence" of rampant sexual predation by military males, and almost NO voices of the military women themselves. This book is disappointing at best. I found myself appalled by many things Ms. Solaro asserted and alternately laughing at other things that were simply preposterous. I suppose this book could be useful to give someone an extremely subjective view of women in the contemporary military; however, readers BEWARE that this is written by a journalist! Although, Ms. Solaro alludes to her credentialed education, I see very little evidence of an acceptable methodology nor support for her extrapolated conclusions. Readers should take this book with a heavy dose of skepticism.
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Oddly enough, Erin Solaro's book starts out with a forward from a
retired general who admires her argument but in the end doesn't
agree with the ends to the means of putting women in combat.
This is fitting since, ultimately, I also found Solaro's book well written and researched, but found it did not give a full or accurate representation of what the title suggests.

Ms Solaro makes valid points, pointing out the various bogus reasons
used to keep women out of combat and the Dept of Defense's disingenuous
word game regarding the assignment of women to combat units.

Her details of the US code covering women in combat are excellent as
is her historical perspective which she brings in from time to time.

The book wavers between personal observations and serious polemic,
sometimes suddenly. She goes from a boots-on-the-ground anecdote to a
statistical analysis, punctuated with long quotations that seem
out of place.

Her research in some areas is undone by ommissions in others. For example, her tying in of female maternity deaths to
acceptance of female combat deaths is born out in excruciating
detail yet she leaves out critical details in the back story of Major General Claudia Kennedy's suspiciously timed announcement in 2000 or consequences of the various feminist witch hunts which plagued the military in the 90s.

At times it seems as if she reverts to being the radical feminist
she says she used to be. Overall, there is an underlying anti-male sentiment that permeates this sincere attempt to inform us how female soldiers fit into modern war.

Women are almost always portrayed in a positive light while men are, at best, victims of their times.
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Format: Paperback
Erin Solaro's book is hugely disappointing. It is not so much her point of view that makes this book a waste of time, it's the presentation of her arguments.

The cover says "what you should know about women in the military". Strangely enough, the book doesn't spend many pages on that topic. Personal points of view, anectdotes, unsubstantiated statements and dubious statistics make up an inordinate proportion of this book.

Solaro's book lacks any form of structure. At some points in the book I had the feeling, the author just wanted to include every mildly interesting bit of knowledge she has on any given topic. Most of the time, this didn't fit the context.

Especially the last chapter of the book is better left unread. Call me narrow-minded, but the last chapter should offer a summary of the book and reinforce the message the author wants to convey. In a way, it does. The chapter is the best example of Solaro's confused style of writing.

Solaro presents some interesting insights. I was especially intrigued by her ideas for revised training. Still, that was one of the few highlights. Most of the time, Solaro spends too much time telling telling the reader about her journeys to Afghanistan and Iraq, her partner Phil, maternal mortality (while it does support her arguments, it takes up too much space).

Before this book I read Stephanie Gutmann's Kinder, Gentler Military. While I found her book one-sided, it is definitely better than Solaro's.
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Format: Paperback
This important topic deserves better.

Disappointing. Reads more like a 371 page op-ed piece than the factual, insightful treatise I expected. [Full disclosure: I only read the first 110 pages.]

Odd mix of self promoting anecdotes, and unsupported opinion presented as fact. There are footnotes but at least some of these have been misstated in a way that tends to support her position.

Her disgruntled narrative often denigrates others for narrow, parochial points of view while offering her acerbic narrow views in rebuttal.

An example on page 26 she writes: "Americans have always been willing to countenance the death and suffering of woman as part of the duties they owe to their husbands." then offers childbirth as an example. Huh?

I only read the first 110 pages but there were at least two mentions of her concern with rape:

While in a tent full of Marines she saw a young Marine looking at a Maxim magazine, then at her, apparently in reference to her page 33 note that "No one assaulted or raped, or threatened me. No one ever made advances toward me, and the one guy who unambiguously wanted to was embarrassed because he wanted to . . ." She then remarks she slept with a knife under her pillow. One of many, many references to the knife.

On page 109/110 she writes:
"There was nothing, save for their own character, values and sense of the world, to keep Sam and Will [two Americans traveling with her, at her request] from raping me." Nothing in the preceding text even hinted at such intent.

Another example of self-aggrandizing hyperbole:
Anxious during a taxi ride in Kuwait she recounts her plan to "drive my hair stick up under his chin" then try to escape with the taxi.
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