Throughout the history of the Unites States, brave women have chosen to serve in the armed forces, at first in secret but more recently achieving very visible success and responsibility.
Conkling provides brief, accurate biographies—often a couple of pages long—of 72 women who have served, divided chronologically with an emphasis on the periods of America’s wars. At first, there are, of course, few women to focus on; those that served in early wars were often disguised as men, and few are well documented. When available, each biography includes a photograph or Kuo’s neat drawing of the woman, information about her childhood and education, highlights of her service, a list of medals awarded to her, and a notation of her cause and date of death. Some of the tales are broken up by sidebars, but these are rarely long enough to be disruptive and provide interesting additional details. As the text moves into the modern era and the number of biographies per section grows, however, the repetitive format becomes increasingly tedious. While all the women merit attention, only steadfast readers are likely to last until the end, perhaps making this volume best suited to readers who like to dip in and out. However, it’s rewarding to see—in such detail—how women’s duties and responsibilities in the military have grown over time. The biographees are a nice mixture of various races. Excellent backmatter, including a timeline and chart of ranks, rounds out this effort.
An in-depth examination for a motivated audience or dedicated browsers. (Collective biography. 10-14)