Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Black Wings

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Black Wings

Article excerpt

Black Wings. Kathleen Toomey Jabs. McClean, VA: Fuze Publishing LLC, 2011, $19.95, paper, pp.303.

Black Wings by Kathleen Toomey Jabs begins with a fatal aircraft accident onboard the USS JOHNSON involving Naval Academy graduate LT Audrey Richards. Her former roommate, LT Bridget Donovan, is skeptical about the crash and launches her own investigation to explore if occurrences from their Annapolis days have anything to do with Audrey's death.

Jabs's depiction of Academy life is dead on, from the frustration of women struggling to look appealing in uniform, the mental games played by the upperclassmen during basic training, to the stress of an honor hearing and enduring the Dark Ages during the wintertime. Although describing the Naval Academy Class of 1990, many of the author's descriptions of the environment are still applicable to the service academies today. One with any experience of Basic Training or being a freshmen at an Academy cannot help but be amused at such passages, "All the grooming tasks seem silly, arbitrary, a waste of her time, just like learning the parts of an Army tank or cleaning radiator coils with a toothbrush because an admiral will be walking through the halls. She didn't expect military life to be so obsessed with minutia: loose threads, wrinkles, specks of dust."

Jabs comments on the treatment of women at the Naval Academy, providing an interesting comparison to how women are perceived in the military twenty years later. It is difficult to read about women always wanting or needing to prove themselves among a majority of male counterparts two decades ago, but there is comfort in knowing that today, women are much more accepted and comfortable at the service academies. …

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