IN THE MEN'S HOUSE: An Inside Account of Life in the Army by One of West Point's First Female Graduates by Carol with Andrea Raab Barkalow

IN THE MEN'S HOUSE: An Inside Account of Life in the Army by One of West Point's First Female Graduates

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A tough, intelligent report on the triumphs and trials--mostly the latter--of being a woman in This Man's Army. Barkalow entered West Point on July 7, 1976, along with 118 other women as part of the Academy's first group of female cadets. Only 62 made it through the four-year course. No wonder, when one pores over this amalgam of diaries, memoirs, and interviews and discovers what these women were up against. First, Barkalow had to confront the general dehumanizing effects of military training; on top of this, she faced unbridled misogyny from many older cadets: ""If a female new cadet passed an upper-classman in the hall and said, 'Good morning, Sir,' she might be greeted in return with cool civility. Then again, she might hear back, 'Good morning, bitch.' "" Against such sexist vulgarities, Barkalow upholds the Academy virtues of discipline, guts, and physical strength, and recalls one brief spell of happiness at a weekend Catholic retreat. Little changed after graduation, when Barkalow--white, female, and 22--supervised the work of 70 soldiers, mostly black males, at a nuclear missile site in Germany: ""I worked in a constant state of controlled hysteria""--although the stress here came from the hazards of the job as well as endemic sexism. Finally, Barkalow returned stateside, taking command of a truck company at Fort Lee, where she found further trouble by posing in a bikini during a muscle-building competition. Now a captain, Barkalow works at the Pentagon, where, one hopes, attitudes toward women are more enlightened than in the barracks. If conditions continue to improve, this courageous and involving book will be part of the reason why.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1990
Publisher: Poseidon/Simon & Schuster