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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
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From the Publisher
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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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. The cold, hard facts are no where to be found when making critical assessments of women's capabilities and potential, only convenient anecdotes. According to Solaro, female soldiers always perform not only adequately, but better than men most often...oh, except when they aren't trained correctly by men.
Also, distracting and undermining her good points is the author's obsession with rape and pornography, a subject that is part
of, but not integral to her thesis. At one point she claims to read the mind of a soldier eye-balling her while holding a men's nonpornographic magazine.
Despite her yeoman's endeavors in research and analysis, Solaro's book suffers from a thousand cuts of poor conclusions, optimistic guestimations, and fuzzy thinking. These shortcomings serve to undermine her argument so much that I found myself hard pressed to cede any of her final conclusion.
made me think hard about my experience and how it fit into the grand
I am a lieutenant colonel in the Army on my second combat tour to
Iraq in the last 16 months. I'm a mother and a wife (to another Army
officer and combat vet) and can tell you that all of those things I
bring as a women to the table only enhance my leadership skills not
detract from them. I really related to the many things you spoke of
in the book. I will have 19 years in "this man's Army" this June and
it's been one wild ride. From the cat calls and inappropriate comments
made to me as a young lieutenant, to briefing 3-and 4-star generals
today, I have seen my Army make strides towards a more perfect union
where both genders no only co-exist but thrive. Few understand that
while we do make up 15% of the force, there are still many who do not
like the fact that we are here at all. It also frustrates these few
uneducated "neocons" as Erin refers to them, that with even greater
veracity we are rising to ranks that can actually influences things on
a strategic scale.
I really appreciate that Erin really stuck to the essence of what's
at stake here. The discussion about women in combat is really OBE.
We are here, we've been here, and we make a remarkable and valuable
part of the combined arms team. Bullets, IEDs, and mortars don't have
gender discriminators built in.
Yes, there are neanderthals that believe we shouldn't be in combat but
the nature of warfare as we have seen in this current conflict is
anything but linear. While many senior leaders believe after we get
done with this war we need to get back to basics (the old
force-on-force pitched battle stuff), I would have to disagree I think
future wars will be as unpredictable and chaotic as this one is and
will require our best and brightest minds (male AND female) to develop
new and inventive ways of sustaining peace in our time.
I have spent the better part of my career as Soldier and leader
proving I should be at the table. And every time I PCS (though less
in recent years because a good rep can go a long way) there are some
that I must re-prove my relevancy to in each new assignment. For the
most part though as soon as my counterparts see that a) I am not
afraid to break a nail; b) can outrun most of them; and c) have just
as agile and competent a military mind as them, I am embraced and
employed just as vigorously as my male counterparts.
But what we could learn better as a force is that the cookie cutter
Airborne Ranger mentality is not the only validation criteria for a
good military leader. Women bring just as many relational skills to
the table that can give this organization depth and staying power.
It's just different and squishy and some men are uncomfortable with
Many of my female peers and I are on a crusade to show what we call
"the softer side of Sears" (stolen from the Sears jingle) is actually
an asset to a fighting force. We have to get past the Spartan
definition of strong. I have watched my male Soldiers cry just as
much as my female. You cut us, we all bleed. We need to be reminded
often that there is no shame in being human. Pain is the body's way
of telling you, you are still alive (borrowed from Clint Eastwood's
Anyway, I applaud Erin's efforts to bring attention to the inequities
that still exist for women and I promise you there are many of us X
dominant chromosome warriors who work daily to authenticate that
hypothesis that we are here and here to stay.
Most recent customer reviews
I am giving this book five stars, but not strictly for the argument it makes in favor of integrating women totally into combat...Read more
Disappointing. Reads more like a 371 page op-ed piece than the factual, insightful treatise I expected.Read more