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Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives
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Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  145 reviews
Under the Sabers is a groundbreaking narrative detailing the complex personal challenges Army wives face, presenting a provocative new look at Army life. Tanya Biank goes beyond the sound bites and photo ops of military life and shows what it is really like to be an Army wife--from hauling furniture off the rental truck by yourself at a new duty station when your husband i ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 7th 2006 by St. Martin's Press
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Andrea Lynne
Dec 03, 2012 Andrea Lynne rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: A Lawyer
Recommended to Andrea by: Ms. Biank
Since I am one of the women/characters in the book I can tell you what a disappointment ~ how inaccurate most of the story is on a personal level. I was never allowed to edit, have access to the narrative or even confirm some of the factual nature, let alone get a clue to the slant Ms. Biank took insinuating certain aspects of my views, family, friends or personality. This book was obviously written to be immediately marketed for a dramatic television series therefore the creative non-fiction st ...more
Liz
Picked it up because of the show based on this. The show is a far stretch from this book, most things are totally different. I rated this ok based on the book alone. The author claims to want to dispel some of the average stereotypes of Army wives, yet she feeds into others. This is a very "Go Army" type book, you'd almost think the Army was the only branch of military in the country at times. On the flip side, male spouses are virtually left out of everything as well.

The stories about the wive
...more
Rachael Hartman
I couldn't book this book down. The true story of four Army wives, along with shorter stories of other Army wives during the 2000-2002 timeframe. I lived in Fayetteville during the timeframe of this book. I worked on Fort Bragg during that time. The book hit home in many ways because I could relate to the Army culture (I grew up in it), as well as the fact that I remember the news reports of the Army wives killed by their husbands during that time. I didn't realize this book was a true story of ...more
Cat
Quite honestly, I bought this because it’s the book the Lifetime TV series “Army Wives” is based upon. It was pure research (with a heavy dose of envy thrown in). I had one of those “if SHE can turn her book into a TV series, so can I, dammit!” moments. I had wrongly assumed Tanya Biank was a first time author who got lucky while I, an English major with dozens of published books to my credit, toiled away in obscurity.

Boy, was I wrong. It turns out Biank is a reporter based in Fayetteville, NC w
...more
Sarah
This was recommended to me by one of my Army wife girlfriends, ans she felt it was amazing and should be read by all. I didn't realize the Lifetime series was based on a book that was based on the lives of actual women... as a non-fiction book, I found it a much more interesting story. I think you'd almost have to live that life to feel it as deeply as my girl did. Forgive me, but only two of my military spouse girlfriends were not active duty at one time themselves, and it is definitely a diffe ...more
Jennifer
Oct 07, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who has a spouse or significant other in the Military & for anyone who enjoys "Army Wives"
I am a HUGE fan of Lifetime's "Army Wives," and have wanted to read this book for quite a while now. I am glad that I did. Being a former Military significant other, I was able to relate to these women's stories and the whole story in a way I probably would not have been able to otherwise.

*Contains a Spoiler*
As for how the book relates to the TV Show, the characters in the book and not specifically based on any one character in the show. Several of the characteristics of the characters in the b
...more
Sarah
It is with great reluctance that I mark this book as "read." I couldn't really get into it. I'm a huge fan of the Lifetime series, and was eager to read the book that inspired the show. I'm sad to say I was very disappointed, not because the book wasn't based on the same characters (as the show is, of course, fiction) but because of the style of the book. Even taking into account that the author was a reporter, and making allowances for that style of writing, I simply wasn't able to convince mys ...more
Jennifer
I picked up this paperback at the Offutt BX. I enjoy the TV show, and so I thought I might enjoy the book. I was undergoing quite a bit of military-induced stress and needed some light reading. Little did I know, just how light it was. The story was very familiar, but not at all like the tv drama. Low and behold, I had already read the book years ago when it was called "Under the Sabres". And I was not crazy about the book then. Fortunately, the first time I checked the book out from the library ...more
Doug
I read this book because I am a Military Brat and a vet. It confirmed what I already knew. There are people in the military (just like in the civilian world) who have no morals. I remember the guys who couldn't wait to go on temporary duty so they could cheat on their wives and I remember the wives who couldn't keep their pants on while their husband was away defending his country for a few months. Statistically military, cops, and miners have the highest divorce rates of any professions; it is ...more
Lana
Jul 17, 2010 Lana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any military spouses
I am an army wife and army brat. I watch the tv show but the book is completely different. Yes, there are some parallels, but it's more compelling to read the actual stories. I don't like the speculation she puts into certain conversations but I enjoyed the actual stories of the women she interviewed. I especially liked quizzing my husband on certain landmarks in Fayetteville and Bragg, ie Bragg Blvd where he blew $800 at a strip club, and how no one really dared go into the Green Beret Bar. All ...more
Jan
Having been a Navy Wife this story rang so true to how it is to be a military wife. I knew this was the book that the tv show Army Wives was based on but I didn't know it was about the Fort Bragg killings too. Its a little different than the show but you can figure out who is being portrayed on tv even though the names are different. I couldn't believe how this turned out to be a tear jerker for me halfway through the book. Be aware there is a long prologue/intro at the begining. The story is ba ...more
Lara
The basis for the television show, Army Wives.

Biank writes about the rash of murders and murder/suicides that swept through the army in 2002. She writes about one of the victims, but also about three other women whose lives were also forever changed by the army life of their husbands and sons. It is an honest accounting of the stresses that soldiers and their families face; the fighting that goes on at home and abroad. Some women fight loneliness while their husbands are away, and some fight aga
...more
Pam Herald
Great story, because it was a true, real life picture of four Army Wives. You can see how the TV show adapted their situations for the shows characters. Have a box of tissue handy, cause you go through a roller coaster of emotions!
Katie
As a civilian who has no military experience and limited knowledge on the subject, I appreciated that this book presented the hardships and joys faced by Army Wives. The four women described were fascinating to learn about and I would give the story itself 5 stars but was put off at times by the writing style. Army Wives is presented as a non-fiction account, but there are frequent accounts that are obviously fictional, or imagined by the author, as there is no way she was present for some of th ...more
Kristine Kohut
This book is very journalistic in style. I usually prefer a more flowing fiction style, but I did get used to the feeling that I was reading a book-length article.

The content is amazing, well researched. The prologue is a bit redundant with the content of the book, to the point that the reader may choose to skip it, get on with reading the book, and not feel like they missed anything. I would almost say that this book is a must-read for women who are marring into the military who haven't previo
...more
Gloria
Superb book! Excellent read!

I really loved this book. I am from and grew up in Fayetteville and so it was a true trip down memory lane for me to read about the different places mentioned. My father was an Air Force veteran, my husband is also retired Air Force, my son was in the Army and my son-in-law was a Marine. As the daughter of a First Sergeant I grew up hearing the phone ring at all hours of the night with calls from airmen regarding all kinds of issues. As a military wife I knew my role
...more
LeighAnne
I read this book because my husband met the sister of the author. And honestly, the tv show is one of our guilty pleasures (that we try to hide from friends....). The show has just enough authenticity to keep us watching the silliness.
I can't really write out a good review of the book, because I'm torn. On one hand, it was a fairly good representation of some of the "quirks" about Army life. (obviously not the murders--I'm talking about other things) But even though the author was raised in the
...more
Heidi Willis
I picked up Under the Sabers because I knew it was the inspiration for the TV show Army Wives.

Under the Sabers is a non-fiction book that follows four Army wives stationed at Fort Bragg the two years prior to the shocking summer in which four Army wives were murdered within a 6 month period. The author does a great job in showing how the Army affects marriages and the role that it plays in a family without condemning the military.

I was afraid, starting the book, that the moral of the story wou
...more
Book Concierge
I don’t watch TV so never saw the show “Army Wives.” I was searching for a book to fulfill a reading challenge for an online book group, and this title popped up. I thought it was going to be a sort of chick-lit romance. It’s not what I expected … it’s MUCH better.

This is a nonfiction account of four women married to men stationed at Fort Bragg NC. It covers two years beginning in Dec 2000 in the lives of these families. But what happens has ramifications for the military and for the entire Ame
...more
Jennifer
A very interesting case study of four real-life Army wives, who were used as the basis for developing the characters in the TV series. I think perhaps I may have robbed the book for what it originally was since I have been an avid viewer of the show, and can identify where scenarios, and sometimes direct lines, have been drawn. I found myself very much wondering how closely the show plans on following these very real women, which creates some level of disappointment as I am unable to read the bo ...more
Hilary
First off, let me say this very clearly: This is NOT the book of the TV series. A lot of people seem to think it is; the TV series is loosely based on this book. If you've seen the series you will be able to recognize aspects of the characters from these real women, but it's important to remember that they are not the same.

This non-fiction book, written by a journalist living in the area who grew up an Army brat, gives an interesting insight into the reality of Army life from the wives' viewpoin
...more
Mainon
So I didn't really read the synopsis of this book before borrowing it. As I'm in the midst of planning to become an Army wife myself, I was looking for something interesting on the topic, and the title plus the picture on the front (soldier and bride kissing under the saber arch) seemed to be what I wanted. Truthfully, I was thinking it would be a little sweet, a little gossipy, and sortof like a slightly-more-serious version of the TV show Army Wives.

I. Was. So. Wrong. The book starts off with
...more
Lindsay
I checked this book out so I could understand a show that was called "Army Wives" on lifetime. I knew the show was based on the book. So finally had checked it out to read it.

When I started reading the book. Tanya Banks starts by tell you about herself in terms of telling you a little of what going on around her and her breaking the news. She goes to a army post to get her reports and tell you about what going on. She also introduces four army wives and families.

Each family is tell their own sto
...more
Dana
I will be the first to admit that I loved the show Army Wives. Since most of the original cast members have left, I have stopped watching, but I was always intrigued by the fact that this show was based on a book. I wanted to see how the two differed.
The basis for the book came from the string of Army Wife murders in the spring and summer of 2002, that occurred in Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina. The author, Tanya Biank, is a reporter who had covered the army base for years. Traveling
...more
Penny
I read this book initally because I enjoyed the television series. It was nothing like the series though and very disappointing really!
It is written by journalist Tanya Biank after a seires of 4 murders carried out on an army base "Fort Bragg" in America over the course of one Summer. It tells the story of the wives of the army officers over the course of a year, and they're eventual deaths at their husbands hands.
It was Ok but I did find it a bit sickly sweet at times, the discriptions of the f
...more
Sarah
I've confirmed my assumption that I would absolutely hate this life. I haven't seen the TV show they made of the book, but I'm guessing there's less emphasis on the whole "oh, and your husband may well kill you" factor (at least I hope so). It's not clear to me why this should be the organizing principle of the book, unless it's a private fear of Biank's, who's an Army wife herself: despite one ugly summer in Fort Bragg, you're not actually LIKELY to be murdered, although you ARE likely to have ...more
Phoenix
This book spurred a popular tv series and I read it b/c I am writing a book and a colleague of mine knows the author quite well. And, well, a new author can use all the advice she can get, and if you are about to seek advice from an acclaimed author you better have read her book!

The subject matter is up my alley, but the jacket alludes to things lurid that never quite materialize and for some reason that kind of leaves me wanting. In this instance, truth is not stranger than fiction. Biank has
...more
Jill
I have worked with a few military men in therapy but knew very little about the culture. My immediate family does not contain anyone who has been in the military so this was a very interesting read.

The book starts off with several murders that happened around Ft. Bragg all involving men and women who were serving in the military. Ft. Bragg is home to the huge 82nd Airborne who are paratroopers who jump from 800 feet or below within 18 hours of a call to duty.

Although the book starts with the mu
...more
Yoonmee
As a new Army wife, I thought maybe this would be an interesting and educational read. Although I admit I was worried it would be a trashy read b/c I knew the tv show Army Wives had been loosely based off the book. Thankfully, it wasn't trashy. Biank definitely gives an insight into Army life for families and wives that most civilians aren't even aware of.

With recreated conversations and situations, the book reads more like a novel than a piece of journalism, thus making it an easy read. By "eas
...more
Angie
This book was such a strange read. I love the show Army Wives and thought the show did a good job using material from the book. I felt like the writing of the book was confusing. Is this a fiction or a report on Army life? The author kept switching back and forth. I also felt like her personal knowledge of the women whose lives she shared was highly unbelievable. She says she met most of these women by chance. She was not best friends with them. I really don't think these women would share these ...more
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