Academic journal article Military Review

WOMEN AT WAR: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Conflicts

Academic journal article Military Review

WOMEN AT WAR: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Conflicts

Article excerpt

WOMEN AT WAR: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Conflicts, James E. Wise Jr. and Scott Baron, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2006, 234 pages, $29.95.

Women at War, by James E. Wise Jr. and Scott Baron, is classic oral history on an old topic that continues to be controversial. The book is an anthology of the personal stories of women from all services ranging in rank from private first class (E-3) to colonel (O-6). The authors provide a wide variety of first-person perspectives from American women who have participated in combat or supported combat.

The book begins with the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and works back in time through Vietnam and Korea to World War II. Each section is preceded by a short introduction that describes the social and military context of each particular war. As usual in books of this type, the entries detail a wide range of situations, personalities, and concerns, and are best appreciated in small doses.

In the introductory essay, Wise and Barron argue that "women are still, in theory, excluded from combat. The reality in Iraq is that women are in combat, and continue to prove that gender distinctions are irrelevant." Although women's dedication to duty and patriotism unquestionably equal those of any of their male peers, it is evident that gender does have a powerful impact on the lives of military women. The experience of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Lieutenant Commander Holly R. Harrison, who skippered a USCG vessel in the Persian Gulf, is both irritating and exasperating-the Iraqis refused, repeatedly, to believe she was the ship's captain and insisted she was the cook. …

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