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The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  212 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
The Lonely Soldier--the inspiration for the documentary The Invisible War--vividly tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006--and of the challenges they faced while fighting a war painfully alone.

More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 24, 2010 Cristin rated it liked it
Although a deeply moving and disturbing account of women at war,this book focused solely on the negative aspects of a female serving in the armed forces.I am a female soldier serving in the U.S. Army.In six years of service and counting,I have witnessed different instances of pure ignorance displayed by misogynistic and chauvinistic males.I have also had the pleasure of serving with thoughtful,respectful,and caring men whom I thought of as brothers and father figures.I spent a year in Iraq with ...more
Despite the fact, this book is about women serving in Iraq, many of its issues are issues of ALL soldiers serving there. It addresses the issues of sexual harrasment, asssault and rape of soldiers by soldiers. A place where women are not supposed to be in combat situations but are. A place were KBR provides soldiers with inadequate equipment or other supplies. Where recruiters make promises to young, poor high school students that they are not obligated to keep.

By telling the stories of these wo
Feb 05, 2016 Ярослава rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Для контексту українських дискусій про місце жінки в армії вирішила почитати про жінок в армії США. Виявляється, там теж усе погано:) Книжка заснована на інтерв'ю п'яти жінок, які відслужили в Іраку - з дуже різними кар'єрами, дуже різного походження, з дуже різними причинами піти в армію - але з однаковими жахастиками. Теоретично, у армії США жінки також не служать у бойових підрозділах, але в Іраку, де немає лінії фронту, завдання жінки-кулеметниці, що супроводжує фури з бензином, чи завдання ...more
Ms. Online
Amy Herdy

Review of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq
By Helen Benedict
Beacon Press

This dramatic statement against war in general and the Iraq war in particular starts with the book’s cover photo, an image that makes its own powerful commentary: A woman soldier stands rigidly, Army-khaki-clad and freshly lipsticked, the stars and stripes behind her and a distant, hardened look in her eye. The dichotomy is played out in the book again and again as women dep
May 29, 2013 Sanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
This is not a nuanced book on all the possible experiences of women in the US military. It's not about the good, the bad and the ugly. It's about the bad and the ugly. This is a wake-up call to do something about the atrocious working conditions many women in the military face.

Benedict interviewed many women and worked their experiences into this book. She chose five women to feature prominently, following their lives from signing up, to deployment to coming home again. She shows why these women
Jun 21, 2013 Torie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Second perhaps only to The New Jim Crow, this is the most important book I've read in the last 5, maybe 10 years.

First of all, I read most of this book in one sitting. It's absolutely engrossing. She lets the women speak for themselves about their experiences--largely negative--in the armed forces. Their stories run the gamut of sexual abuse, racism, sexism, manipulative recruiters, and the many, MANY failures of the Iraq War. They're stories that need to be heard.

A lot of reviews here say that
Feb 01, 2010 Theresa rated it liked it
For my own sanity, I hope that this book represents a minority of women serving in the military. Benedict writes her book well, but I believe the book's biggest shortcoming is that she does not interview a single commissioned officer. I understand that this book was published last year, but there have been enormous gender strides recently among officers, and I wish Benedict had perhaps interviewed some who were recognized by their male counterparts instead of harassed to get another perspective. ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Brenda rated it liked it
I read this book while on my way to Iraq in 2010. I've been serving in the US Army for close to 18 yrs and have never experienced any of the multiple accounts of abuse, discrimination, harassment, etc this book depicts. Although I know those stories exist they have been very few and far in between among the soldiers I've cared for over the years. This book scared the crap out of me and had to stop reading towards the end. I'm happy to report that I had the most rewarding experience while deploye ...more
May 26, 2009 Marian rated it it was amazing
This is a well documented and disturbing book about the physical, sexual and emotional abuses including rapes that are occuring to the women serving in the military in Iraq. It also documents the total lack of medical and counseling services available to them through the Veterans Administration on their return to the United States. It exposes the military's weaknesses in the war in Iraq as well as their discrimination and dishonest recruting policies to fill its 'manpower' needs with women. A mu ...more
Julian Montoya
Mar 10, 2015 Julian Montoya rated it did not like it
Worst book i ever read, all anyone has to do is ask helen benedict is she did any research? ..on you tube helen benedict claims mickela montoya was the reason she wrote the book, she doesn't even know mickiela montoya lik i know her!...i named her! She was born at ft. Hood texas!,i am her father !its on her birth certificate! The unit patch 13 supcom is from ft. Hood , but femenist attitude shames the military and many will claim it is a " rape culture" , the truth is mickiela montoya has a moth ...more
La Mala  ✌
Jan 27, 2015 La Mala ✌ marked it as to-read
Cuarta película en mi semana de documentales. (Porque con cuarenta grados de calor haciendo imposible salir afuera sin sufrir una combustión espontánea, aparentemente no encontré nada mejor que hacer que ponerme el ventilador en la cara y sufrir con historias trágicas y reales.)

Hoy, The invisible war, inspirada por este libro.

Jul 06, 2011 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! An eye-opener of what happens not only just to women in the U.S. military but of how the military generally treats its soldiers. If you weren't against the War in Iraq before, you certainly will be after reading this book.
Nik Newearth
Jul 23, 2015 Nik Newearth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So well written - I can't say it was an easy read, even though I read it non stop in 3 hours. It shines a light on how women are being treated in the military, starting from recruiters who rape prospective recruits to what happens after the women return home. The shocking revelations are not only in how women are completely disrespected and treated as sex objects and second class citizens, but how our country has treated the soldiers in Iraq. There is no political party affiliation, but instead ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Jcothron rated it it was amazing
Benedict, Helen. The lonely soldier: the private war of women serving in Iraq. (Boston: Beacon Press, c2009): 264 p. Includes extensive bibliographic notes and index. Ages 15-up.

Since the passage of the infamous “No Child Left Behind” legislation, U.S. military recruiters have legally mandated access to personal information on all high school students attending schools which receive federal funds. Although it is legal for parents to opt out of having their children included, most are not aware o
May 10, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Something is seriously wrong if an officer responsible for sexual assault prevention programs is arrested for sexual battery. WTF?!? A few days ago a New York Times Article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Sarah Wheaton made me want to know how women are treated in the military and I found Helen Benedict's book. The NY Times article describes results of the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2012. A confidential survey was sent to 108,000 active-duty serv ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Jarrod rated it it was ok
Shelves: war
All right. Wow. This book was something else. Helen Benedict totally comes across as a,(and I don't like using this term), 'manhater'. She doesn't come right out and say anything that distinguishes her as a manhater, but subtle comments and choices of words paint a whispering message to me as such, (but maybe it is just me though).
The lack of fairness and balance of views in this book irritated me. She couldn't find any women that didn't get completely shitted on as much as everyone else? Or le
Nov 02, 2013 Megan rated it it was amazing
When I heard Helen Benedict speak at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference about this book, I and others got chills as she described the conditions under which some female soldiers in Iraq had to work.
In Lonely Soldier, Benedict specifically follows the stories of five female soldiers before, during, and after the most recent war in Iraq.
In a book report I wrote about Lonely Soldier for a class, I noted Benedict's use of narrative and dialogue and how they help thrust readers into vivid s
Apr 15, 2013 Cee rated it really liked it
Wow this book was very tough to read. It was recommended as a follow up to the documentary The Invisible War. The documentary is about sexual assault, whereas the The Lonely Soldier talks about multiple aspects of being a female soldier in the recent wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. It gives profiles of five women, with different personality types and backgrounds, that struggled with being a parent during and after war, with seeking or having relationships during the war, with being undervalue ...more
May 09, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Based on a collection of interviews with women veterans, this is a sort of oral history of the first part of the Iraq War. It's not an easy read -- it deals with sexual assault and every other PTSD trigger you can think of, as well as mistreatment of prisoners and civilians, and enraging levels of incompetence corruption, and flat-out evil by the people running the war. I had to put this down in the middle and didn't come back to it for almost a year.

I am glad I read it, though; Benedict strikes
Apr 15, 2013 Liz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
After reading this book I am profoundly grateful that I had options in life aside from joining the United States military. While I was aware of the problems the military has with sexual assault from watching the documentary The Invisible War I was not aware of how bad the military health care system is or how unresponsive it is to women's health needs. I was also appalled by the issue of negligence on the part of Kellogg Brown and Root and other private contractors. They would drive empty convoy ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
This is a well researched, well written book about the lives of women who served in the military. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes heartbreaking, the honest stories that these women shared with the author, and thus with us, the readers, is very interesting
Fiorella Cecilia
Jul 31, 2013 Fiorella Cecilia rated it liked it
The book was ok, really liked the background stories of some of the soldiers. It made me mad some of the higher ups who were racist and show me how much we had improved the quality of life of the soldiers since the first deployments that we had.
However I felt that she intentionally looked for the most sad and angry stories, there were very few short mentions of ok stories. Yes, I know that the live of a female soldier is a bit harder because we serve in a man's world but come on! Also I wish th
Angie Carter
Apr 08, 2016 Angie Carter rated it it was ok
Sadly, it made me glad I never joined the military.
May 26, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
the perfect book to finish on memorial day
Critical Mas
Dec 20, 2009 Critical Mas rated it really liked it
These are the stories of some of the most resilient women who've served in combat operations in Iraq. Helen Benedict shed some much needed light on a growing problem which the US Military, the government and the media have all been complacent. No one wants to talk about the private wars of an increasing number of women in the military--ones against their own comrades. I'd recommend this book to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with military service and those who've only been exposed to stor ...more
Meghan Becker
Mar 28, 2015 Meghan Becker rated it really liked it
Very interesting account of women in combat.
Dec 20, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
This book stopped my reading in its tracks because I had such a hard time getting through it. It is well written but extremely depressing as it discusses both how badly women are treated by their fellow soldiers in the military and the horrors of the Iraq War. It was very eye-opening and convinced me that I should do everything I can to keep my children from ever joining, especially if we end up at war. I also felt like it was unrelentingly negative. Were there no women who had anything good to ...more
Alex Flynn
Nov 10, 2011 Alex Flynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research, army-life
A great book that really opened my eyes to the experience of women in the military over the past years. It gives great insight into the average soldiers experience, and the additional burden by women carried by being in a minority and often victimized by their own comrades. It also offers many solutions and things one can do to help, which makes it feel like a much more positive experience than it would otherwise. I almost feel compelled to get involved somehow. I highly recommend this.
Jessica Lavander-Biggs
I struggle with how to rate this book, the first half was definitely a 4, but 20% through it became redundant and seemed to lose focus. It was fascinating to read the experiences soldiers had in Iraq early on and then later on the war. What I didn't enjoy was the mundane details of the entire deployment, I felt the book could use some editing.

Overall, I'm glad I read it. The book was listed for a feminist book club I joined, I would say it was far more political than feminist.
Dawn Hukai
Jan 01, 2014 Dawn Hukai rated it liked it
The stories of five women who served in Iraq, summarizing their experiences before, during, and after their first tours in the mid-2000s. One woman is from Racine, WI and another is from Darlington, WI, which is between Platteville and Brodhead. Few books make as clear a case of how far we still have to go to achieve equal rights.
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Helen Benedict is an award-winning novelist and writer of nonfiction. Her sixth and newest novel, Sand Queen, is to be published by Soho Press in August, 2011. The novel tells the story of a young female soldier and an Iraqi woman caught up in the Iraq War.

Publisher’s Weekly called Sand Queen “a thrilling and thoughtful new novel.” Booklist said, “Funny, shocking, painful, and, at times, deeply d
More about Helen Benedict...

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