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Love My Rifle More Than You: Young And Female In The U. S. Army
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Love My Rifle More Than You: Young And Female In The U. S. Army

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  724 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews

“Brave, honest, and necessary.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR Seattle

Kayla Williams is one of the 15 percent of the U.S. Army that is female, and she is a great storyteller. With a voice that is “funny, frank and full of gritty details” (New York Daily News), she tells of enlisting under Clinton; of learning Arabic; of the sense of duty that fractured her relationships; of being surrou
Published (first published January 1st 2005)
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Dan Doughty
I read this book because I served on the same sort of linguistic team as the author, however I never was in a combat zone. The author makes some fine points but also doesn't try to explain some of the reasons why the sexism happens at times.

One thing that she absolutely captures accurately is the haphazard manner in which linguists are used by the Army. Units are not trained together in the United States and then deployed together as a well oiled team instead they are deployed in ones and twos t
Eva Leger
Apr 08, 2009 Eva Leger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people wanting to learn what some soldiers face day to day during war
Recommended to Eva by: found it on bookmooch, thought it looked interesting
When I first saw this book I thought it looked interesting. Aside from the fact that Williams looks almost exactly like my best friend from high school (she didn't have Williams' high forehead), I thought it might give me a glimpse into army life. It did that. It did that well to be honest.
When I got the book I let it sit around for months which is nothing unusual for me. The only reason i even read it right now was for a reading challenge.
When I started the book I was a little unnerved. Willi
David P
Nov 28, 2012 David P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Odd title, but strangely appropriate, taken from an army marching chant: "Cindy, Cindy, Cindy Lou / Love my rifle more than you / You once were my beauty queen / Now I love my M-16. " Kayla Williams, single and unattached, needed a job and wanted something out of the ordinary, so she enlisted in the US army. Product of a broken home and a somewhat irregular upbringing, she has sharp insight and wit, and this is her story. It reads well and provokes thought.
When she enlisted, she made a deal--th
Jan 18, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone thinking of joining the military
Don't think you know "exactly the kind of person" who joins the Army, because Kayla Williams will set you back. If anyone had told me that a person whose favorite music includes Violent Femmes, and whose favorite movie is Dr. Strangelove would be joining the US military, I wouldn't believe them. But that's Kayla.

Kayla tells her story of joining the Army and training as a linguist. Just about the time she came out of language school, the US went to war over weapons of mass destruction and Kayla w
I wanted to know more about female soldier serving in the U.S Army right after i watched 'The Invisible War' Documentary. I guess i didnt pick the wrong book. Kayla's honesty and bluntly telling the truth what makes me reading this book so fast. The sexism and indirect sexual harassment is viewed as normal by Kayla. She did not felt comfortable with it but at the same, she knew most of them (male soldiers) got a lot on their plates. I am not be able to relate with her justification but at the en ...more
Denis Kaufman
Jun 22, 2008 Denis Kaufman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a retired sailor who served during the period the Navy opened most enlisted ratings to women. From the 1970's to 1990 I watched women contest and overturn most of the rampant sexism in the Navy. Or so I thought. This book, about life for an Army enlisted woman, makes me wonder. Because I have personal knowledge of some of the characters in the book, I trust the author's veracity. And, I fear the services have a lot of work to do to make sure all its members are equitably treated.

As to Kayla
Jul 05, 2009 Margali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Having read this, while I continue to support the idea that women should be allowed in the armed forces if they want to be there, I would have a really hard time encouraging any of my female friends or relatives to join. The misogyny is so frightening!
Sep 04, 2009 Colleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While in California, I finished reading Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, by Kayla Williams. While assuredly not my usual topic of interest, I definitely found this book to be an interesting read. Williams gives her readers enough about her early years for us to understand that she is from a loving but disintegrating family life, has a strong sense of right that is often smothered by insecurities, and an odd relationship with the truths of her Army career. I got the ...more
David Roberts
Jun 12, 2014 David Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book I read to research this post was Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams which is a very good book which I bought from a car boot sale. This book is an autobiographical account of Kayla's job in the US Army. She was a Sargaent in the Intelligence Corp in Iraq and became proficient in Arab. At one stage she had to help with interrogating prisoners. She appears to be quite a sprightly lass who spent 6 years altogether and for much of that time was based in Mosul & Baghdad. She g ...more
Katy Brandes
Aug 05, 2011 Katy Brandes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
As a feminist, I picked this Kindle title to get a female perspective of the modern war effort and because of its original low price in e-book form. I got to Williams’ book from reading an article about the woman who Williams mentions that had committed suicide after being exposed to torture tactics during her stint as an interpreter. Although it was not exactly what I hoped or expected, and the author did seem a bit self-absorbed, I didn't find it as bad as some of the other reviews I read on A ...more
I was intrigued when i saw this book. Wanted to read it, but wasn't sure if i'd like it. The military is really not my thing.
I have asked myself many times "why in hell would a woman want to join the military?" And speculated that she must have something to prove. And proving something, both to herself and to others, was certainly a large part of why Kayla Williams enlisted in the army. I figured!
But after reading the book, assuming that she is truthful about her roles, actions and reactions, i
Interesting read. Williams is definitely not a professional writer--her book isn't stylistically sophisticated and it lacks real narrative structure. I read this hoping to learn why an American woman would choose to volunteer to join the Army, and didn't really come out with an understanding of that. She doesn't gloss over the miseries of Army life, particularly during deployment (bad food, scorching heat, terrible violence--oh, yeah, and hideous sexual harassment with at least one episode of as ...more
Warren Whitmire
What's good about the book "Love My Rifle More Than You?" Well, it is an important book, as it relates a series of war vignettes from the perspective of a liberal, well-educated female soldier, and that perspective is unusual. The author also displayed a keen eye for some of the cultural nuances of the Army and some of the irony of the war. As a veteran of the Iraq War, sometimes I could nearly taste the dust again as I read a few of her descriptions. She also tells the truth about some of the l ...more
Dec 23, 2008 Marissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this for the NKU Book Connection program this year and, while it certainly is informative, I felt that Williams whined pretty much the whole way through the book about how hard it is to be a female in the military. While this didn't surprise me too much, what did surprise me is her harsh judgement of every other woman around her--none of them satisfied her requirements of what a good soldier looks like.

What I think is unfortunate here is that in person, Williams is a well-spoken, rational
Bookmarks Magazine

Williams's war memoir is just one in a string that originated from recent U.S.-led forays into the Middle East, and its uniqueness comes from its female perspective. Critics agree that Love My Rifle is no deep piece of literature. Instead, it's a shocking, on-the-ground view of one military woman's experience in Iraq. Williams spares no details about the stress of combat, the questionable treatment of Iraqi prisoners, and her scathing opinion of the U.S. administration, though she never explains

Marianne Sciucco
Sep 15, 2014 Marianne Sciucco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all of the books I’ve read as research for the character of Devon, Aerin’s mom in Swim Season, this is the most raw, grittiest yet. Kayla Williams, a former sergeant in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), tells us a remarkable tale of army life where as a woman you’re either “a bitch or a slut,” and she does so in stark language infused with the f-word and other colorful words. I found this a little curious, given her background and education: a 20-ye ...more
Evette Davis
Aug 04, 2014 Evette Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twice, I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart in my throat while reading this book - my anxiety pulling me from a deep slumber. It was so honest and painful, it broke my heart to read it. I feel a deep kinship with the author, her biography similar in some ways to mine, but it was the honesty she displayed that won me over. As a fiction writer who creates worlds where women can be warriors on their own terms, it was disappointing to read about a soldier who performs all of her duties ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Tegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is far outside my 'normal reading', but I am glad I picked it up. This book details the events that led to Williams entering the army, her experiences while deployed, and back home.
I don't think I've ever experienced such a sensitive account of war - the Iraqis are clearly people, individual characters, in this story, and not simply a uniform enemy.
Kayla recounts moving stories - like watching a man die, receiving gifts from impoverished locals, dealing with sexual assault, feeling the impa
Apr 23, 2008 Mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mari by: Jon Cullick
I found this book to be an extremely honest look at women's lives in the Military during our current Iraq war. It is honest and while it is critical at times of the government and the army, the writer makes an attempt to truly understand all sides of the issues. The idea that their are only two women in the army bitches or sluts, says a lot about the little progress that Americsn women have received in the U.S. forces even with being able to apply for 91% of all positions. It is also interesting ...more
May 23, 2016 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspective from someone who has lived a completely different experience than myself. I would have preferred the author to have analyzed what was going on around her a bit more. Everything was given as it happened in the moment and without much thought about why or how it fit into a larger context. It was a very narrow slice of one life. And while it has value as an account of what one person has lived through as only she can tell it, I wished she had given herself more time to gain ...more
Moira Katson
I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it provides an incredible perspective. On the other hand, it seems to be strung together in chronological order without even the barest hint of message, and although "there is no message" seems to be a prevalent (and valid) perspective presented, it's odd to see the tone jump about so much.

On the other hand, as a genuine question, if Williams wants to show us her perspective in a chronological account of the Iraq war, showing the wild swings of em
Aug 26, 2007 Myriah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Not the most well-written tale ever, still Williams' story is very compelling. As a young soldier in the Iraq war she gives a firsthand account of life on the ground in Iraq. Serving as an Arabic translator, Williams travels into Iraq during the invasion and occupies the remote parts of the country later into the war. It's a gritty, straight up tale of the everyday absurdities of Army life (her company learns of their impending deployment from CNN, while their impending departure is continually ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Alyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting depiction of a womans experience in the military. While there is mention of negative treatment by male counterparts Williams presents these events in a well rounded context and doesn't shy away from also portraying woman in poor light as is too often the case when biographies are approached with an agenda in mind.

I am always wary of biographies, particularly when they describe conversations as I find it hard to believe they are accurate representations due to the necessary fact th
Oct 03, 2011 RoXXie SiXX rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, read-2011
As a woman it happens quite often that you will get downrated by your male coworkers. Why? Not quite sure. Maybe they think you can't handle it for being a woman; you aren't strong enough or not tough enough? It will always a be a big riddle to the female population, why men think this way. But for some reason, we are used it and we still walk our path the way we want it. Getting around the big stones or jump the hurdles. But we do it. They try to talk us down, over and over again. A female reac ...more
Neil Pierson
Feb 14, 2016 Neil Pierson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As honest* a memoir as you'll ever read, this is the story of a young woman in the Army who is sent to Iraq as the war begins in 2003. She is among people she would never meet nor want to know in civilian life, but she must find a way to live with them, serve with them, rely on them, and even trust them with her life. Most impressive is how she resists being victimized by constant sexual harassment--who knew it could come in so many forms?--; by risking her life in a war that made no sense; by w ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Davin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kayla was spot on with a lot of what she said about the Army. I was in most of those same places. While I am not a female and can not relate to the some of the same experiences, I wish I had this book before I took my platoon into Iraq. I had a female in my unit and I had a hard time relating to her. This book would have helped. I will say that if you were to pick any female in the army, she would tell you the same stories. Everyone have some of the same stories of sex, of leadership (or lack of ...more
Feb 27, 2008 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommending on a couple of points, with a couple of cautions.

Point one - real stories about the Iraq War, some of which you may not believe and be sorry you now know.
Caution one - reads like a collection of vignettes rather than one book.

Point Two - subtitled "young and female in the US Army." interesting point of view.
Caution Two - Emphasis on "young" and "army." This isn't a Wellesley College point of view, but still more liberal than you might expect.

Point Two - turns out female lieutenants
Mare Grohowski
A blunt, no-holds-bar confessional, of one woman’s relationship with the U.S. Army during her deployment to Iraq. As a memoir, important conventions of the genre include centering around a single event in one’s life and important relationships. The most important relationships in Williams’ life (during the years in which this book focuses— 2000-2005), are the relationships she has with herself, her rifle, and the U.S. Army. The title is telling of Williams’ allegiance to these particular relatio ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Kendra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Kendra by: Shawna
Shelves: memoirs
I really liked this book, it helps you understand a little about the Iraq war and what it's like for soldiers there (especially female soldiers) without all the bias you get watching the news. She has a lot of good points about things that would help or hurt us in the Iraq war since she's actually been there. Also makes some good closing remarks about how hard it is to re-adjust to civilian life after being in a war. It was a very interesting read with lots of detail, it could have even been lon ...more
Jan 18, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I became convinced that the Army was really this vast communist institution in disguise. I don't mean "communist" in the sense of sharing what you have, getting what you need. I dont mean "communist" in the sense of equality for all. Not that utopian bullshit. I mean real-world communism. The fucked-up kind.
In real-world communism, folks did as little as possible to get as much as possible. They scammed their way up the bureaucratic ladder. They said to themselves: "There is the hard way, the ri
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Kayla Williams, a former Arabic linguist in the U.S. Army, is the author of Love My Rifle More than You and Plenty of Time When We Get Home. She lives with her husband and children in Virginia.
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“What would my first sergeant do if he came across me and another girl getting it on? He'd want pictures. He'd want to join in. He'd want me and this other girl to double-team him right then and there. On the other hand, since most heterosexual men are homophobic and sexist, most straight guys figure gay men will treat them the way they themselves treat women- that is, like sex objects. And this freaks them the fuck out.” 68 likes
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