by Jerri Bell and Tracy Crow, editors
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Potomac Books, 2017. Pp. xxiv, 330.
Illus., biblio. $32.95. ISBN: 1612348319
American Women in Military Service
Editors Bell and Crow, both U.S. veterans who have written extensively on women in the armed forces, examine the experiences of women who have served – as soldiers, nurses, spies, and more – since the eighteenth century. They take a chronological approach, each chapter covering women in a particular war from the American Revolution to the present, or during specific periods such as the Cold War or the debate over the role of women in the military during the 1970s and 1980s.
For each conflict or period they provide an overview of the events. Then they select particular women who served, either in arms or in some role war-related role, using excerpts from the women’s diaries, letters, memoirs, and such, supported by other first-hand documents, such as after action reports, to tell their story.
While some of the women are well known – Deborah Sampson, Belle Boyd, Harriet Tubman, Sarah Edmonds, Mary Walker – most are not. So we get to learn about the impressive Prudence Cummings Wright, with whom they open the book, who organized a women’s home guard unit during the Revolutionary War. Other little known women included in the book are several Lakota women who served as contract nurses during the Spanish-American War, the veterans of the Women’s Air Service Pilots corps, a baker’s dozen of American nurses who survived an air crash behind German lines in the Balkans, and undertook an 800 trek to safety aided by local partisans, and many more.
There’s a lot to learn here, some of it known but overlooked, such as women who served during the War of 1812 or those who took part in Indian fights, from colonial times right through the Plains Indian Wars, and the role of women in women in covert operations is only lightly touched up. Although the absence of footnotes and an index limit the book’s utility, nevertheless, It’s My Country Too is a useful introduction to the role of American women in war.
Note: It’s My Country Too is also available in several e-editions.