An intense, fierce woman generously shares her instructive experiences as a Marine and how her service time turned her into...

How the challenging, complex world of the Marines turned a woman into an activist.

After graduating with honors from Yale, Bhagwati left her graduate studies at Columbia to join the Marines, a move that shocked her stern Indian parents, both of whom were well-respected economists. In this honest and unflinching memoir, the author briefly chronicles her early years before moving on to share the highs and lows of her time as a Marine. She discusses the brutal physicality of the training and how she pushed herself as far as she could in order to excel at every level. She often outcompeted the men in her unit and loved the strength she found deep inside herself. Bhagwati also bares the details of the sexual harassment she and other female Marines experienced, a situation that was—and still is—commonplace in many areas of the armed forces. When she left the Marines, she realized her career had left invisible yet permanent scars; she suffered from depression, low self-esteem, and a lack of sexual desire, among other ailments. Like other veterans, she turned to the VA for support, where she received mixed results. This led Bhagwati to start the Service Women’s Action Network, which advocates for military sexual harassment victims, and she also helped change some government policies regarding women serving in combat roles. Running throughout the narrative is the author’s palpable sense of confusion, dismay, and anger at the way women are treated in the military, particularly in the predominantly male domain of the Marines, and how these feelings affected her life as a civilian. Her candid story pulls back the curtain on a hidden world in which highly capable women who thrive on the challenge of being a soldier are hindered by the men who surround them.

An intense, fierce woman generously shares her instructive experiences as a Marine and how her service time turned her into an activist for women’s rights in the military.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6254-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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