Vuic has produced a well-researched and accessible book that is a necessary read for gender historians, especially those interested in the relationship of war and conflict to the construction of gender norms.
To a woman on active duty, constantly trying to prove her value—or, at the very least, that her mere presence isn’t destructive—the majority of Westley’s behavior is mortifying. I did not enjoy reading this book. But as Westley’s story developed, I stopped cringing as much over her exploits and started wondering more if she ever had much of a chance. Westley’s account reads extreme, but I’ve seen the basics too many times before.
In a small sea of books offering insights into Marine Corps leadership, this book stands apart by virtue of its focus on women. That focus, however, is most valuable for women who have no knowledge of military leadership. Those familiar with the military, particularly the Marine Corps, might find the tone annoying.
Anyone who hasn’t been trapped under a rock over the past few years has heard innumerable comments on the Secretary of Defense’s decision to admit women into combat career fields, and the build-up leading to this decision—the Marine Corps’ large-scale integration experiment, the Army’s adventures with females in Ranger training, etc. Most of these commentaries miss the mark in one way or another—some are little more than feelings and prejudice cloaked as professional opinion—and few begin where they should, with first principles and the law. Only with these foundations can we evaluate what the services have done in meeting the requirements laid before them.