Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield” as Want to Read:
Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,298 ratings  ·  609 reviews
From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana comes the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan­—including Ashley White, a beloved soldier who died serving her country’s cause.

In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Harper
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ashley's War, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Karen I wondered about this too. It's ironic that she survived given the poor equipment she and other interpreters had to work with.…moreI wondered about this too. It's ironic that she survived given the poor equipment she and other interpreters had to work with.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,298 ratings  ·  609 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
L.A. Starks
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those "if you don't read anything else this year, read this" books. Lemmon does a superb job of writing about the first women in the Cultural Support Team (CSTs) who qualified for and then carried out the goal of getting critical intel with Rangers on their missions in Afghanistan. Because they were able to speak with women and children when male soldiers could not, they contributed to the success of the missions and saved lives.

Anyone who has ever trained for a goal after being t
Amy Garrett
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a female Army Veteran I was skeptical about this book. I received a free book to review from Library Thing, so I wasn't out money if I didn't like it or could not finish it. Not that far into it, it mentioned when the Army participated in the lioness details, where females would go out into the city with the male soldiers. I was a part of that movement for a while, years ago, so i was overwhelmed with joy that it had been recognized in passing :) I found the writing to be very accurate and de ...more
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
At some point while reading Ashley's War, I started to read faster, flipping pages, and almost skimming. It must have been shortly after I realized that Ashley--the title character, but by no means the only female soldier documented in Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's book--was going to go to Afghanistan to serve on the front lines with special forces and wasn't going to tell her parents any more than that she would be an "enabler." They thought she was doing humanitarian work; Ashley was actually partici ...more
Gahkz!! Oh how I have struggled with this book and review. I wanted to love this so much!! I tried. There is a dearth of stories about female heroism and this was a story worth telling. Ashley White and the women who made up the Cultural Support Teams (CST) in Afghanistan are people worth knowing about. Their accomplishments are worthy of aspiration; but this book does them little justice. In light of current events, I found the jingoism and sexism off-putting. This book is propaganda with strai ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
If I were rating the awesomeness of Ashley White and her comrades-in-arms, this book would get 5 stars. But what I’m rating is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s work.

This book follows a team of female soldiers who are trained to accompany the (at the time) all-male Special Forces on missions in Afghanistan as “Cultural Support Teams,” to search and question women and children, which men cannot do without offering grave insult. The name of the team may sound fluffy but their work is anything but: they’re ju
Jenny Bunting
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I'm leary of military non-fiction/memoirs due to past experiences where I have been unable to follow what was happening and/or it's written by war veterans who aren't primarily writers. This book definitely restored my faith in military non-fiction and I will be more willing to give it a chance in the future.

The author does a fantastic job of portraying the information, individualizing each soldier and remaining objective, when this book could've easily detoured in preachy girl-power fluff. The
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never knew that women were trained to be special forces soldiers until I read this book. This elite group of female soldiers who were trained to accompany the Rangers and a Green a Berets on missions in Afghanistan are one of the best kept secrets of the military. The book is both inspirational and tragic as most books about war heroes are, this one maybe a little more so because we're so unaccustomed to the war heroes being heroines. ...more
Wren (fablesandwren)
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 04-stars, not-shelved
This book was so enlightening.

I first only wanted to read this book because the lovely Reese Witherspoon told me too via instagram (by me I mean she posted and told everyone to read it... it's the same thing. We are tight, obviously). Then I learned more about it and I itched to read it.

Kathe Mazur does a marvelous job narrating this book. I usually find it hard to get through books that aren't actual stories, because my mind loves a good story to live in; but Mazur kept my attention and made m
Lynne Spreen
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this book 5 stars just out of gratitude for the women who are contained in its pages. It's an interesting look at brand-new developments in warfare, in terms of female soldiers who are badder and smarter and more awesome than anybody else on the planet, and compared to their male counterparts, they have to do it all backwards and in heels. This is the telling of their efforts to make a contribution as women warriors, at a level of competence and power that I doubt many men achie ...more
4.5 I was a little hesitant to read this book, I am not much for "war" stories especially in a non-fiction book.
I heard about this book from our NYS Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, she does an on line book group for women with books about women. I missed the group read but I still wanted to read the book.

It is a true story about a select group of women in 2010 who have trained to become a "cultural support team" to work along side the Green Berets or Army Rangers. They are able to help these Speci
J L's Bibliomania
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nicely done account of the selection, training, and selected missions of the first Cultural Support Teams. The CST were military women who were attached to the Special Operations forces to "enable" them by searching and gathering information from women within Afghanistan. Their successful work, along with that of other female soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, was one of the factors leading to the official removal of the ban on women in combat positions in the US Military and the ongoing ...more
Brittany Barnes Deeg
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I pre-ordered a copy of the book as I have a personal connection with Ashley. While I did not know her well, I am struck by how spot on she is portrayed through the words of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. I'm inspired by her courage, and the fortitude of her sisters in arms in the inaugural CST class. I am so glad that her story and the legacy of the CST program is being shared through this book and the upcoming film. May Ashley's memory live on. ...more
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, war
Okay, so the female-only Cultural Support Teams aren't special forces. They undergo a radically truncated version of the training process, designed by necessity to allow them to assist the menfolk they're accompanying, not to equal them in terms of skill, training or physical strength.

Moving along from that: Jesus fuck, these women are stone cold impressive badasses in their own right. The book is named 'Ashley's War' after the titular 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf - by all accounts a modestly un
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
#4 Read a book that is set in Middle East

Women involvement in war wasn't something new. When first World War erupted, women depicted as someone that need protection therefore men have to go to war. The death of women even used as a propaganda weapon, particularly when those women were nurses. And the attack of Pearl Harbor in 2nd WW change the image. In the dire need to win the war, the govt transformed the fragile and beautiful females into bold and independent women. But war in 21st century gi
Mark Guthrie
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding read and recap of the plank owners of the Army CST. The book could have gone the preachy route (IMO) but instead stuck to the facts and was a hard nosed recap of the formation and building of a very unique sisterhood. One thing I would have like to have seen would have been a "Where are they now?" section. Highly recommended. ...more
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this and all I can think to say is...holy crap. For those interested in the war in Afghanistan, women in combat in the modern age, or just a damn fine military biography in general, this book is a must read.

And to the author: Thank you, from a 75th Ranger vet. Well done.
Laura Florand
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, non-fiction
Compelling stories of incredibly impressive women. They're inspiring in their strength. An important book, and moving. ...more
Jim Crocker
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing read. Compelling for sure. Un-put-down-able! If you've ever deployed, then you know. You can't stop. And when it's over (for you) you want to come home . . . and you don't. Truth is, some never come home.

This war has been going on for over twenty years. Thirty, even, depending upon how you count. For instance, there was the 1983 bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 US service personnel.

However, this is a war that quite largely doesn't exist, or
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Full review:

The book doesn’t really do White and the other women justice, in part because you’re more than half way through before they’ve completed their training, which is probably the least interesting aspect of their stories. Lemmon’s style is placidly uninteresting too, and fails to paint a picture of the soldiers as individual characters; she may, perhaps, be trying to tell too many stories here, and especially early on, this results in a jumble of
Feisty Harriet
I did not know that women were not allowed to serve on the front lines of battle in the US Military until just a few years ago. I did not know that part of that change stemmed from a special ops unit of women in Afghanistan who were attached to Army Ranger units, the women soldiers were instrumental in working with the women and children who often surrounded and/or protected insurgents, male soldiers were unable to search or even really speak with those women, but these special ops women and the ...more
Mrs. Elaine
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I started this book with great trepidation. I do believe that the true definition of feminism is a womans right to live her life the way she pleases but I did not want to read three hundred pages of feminist propaganda. I support a womans right to choose what is right for her without a governing body interfering as long is it brings no harm to others. I have never enjoyed reading books with a "hidden" political agenda so I wasn't quiet sure I would be able to enjoy this.

I was in for a surprise.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mer by: BookRiot podcast recommend
I grew up with 'women are weak' and 'women should not be put in harm's way' and I don't like other people making my decisions for me. I'm glad to hear the Army has moved forward with gender blindness and glad to be introduced to the women who took the leap and paved the way. ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Inspiring. If you like to bad mouth the younger generation I'd suggest reading this book and updating your attitude. ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'"War is chaos. That means you might be alone in a room with twenty women, one of whom is actually a heavily armed man in disguise. Nine times out of ten you will have other soldiers around you, pulling security. But there is a one percent chance you are going to be in that room by yourself. And you must be ready to react if that male belligerent tries to overpower you. You better be able, in that instant, to pull out your gun and shoot someone in the face without thinking about it.
At the end of
Lori Boos
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
love books where I learn something - and I learned quite a bit from Ashley's War! Loved it. ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a trade show in an advance readers copy -- and what a serendipitous find.

This is truly a gripping read, as one follows Ashley through arduous testing and training to be found fit enough for service as a Cultural Support Team member in Afghanistan. She and the other members of her cohort are a very impressive group.

The book seems very thoroughly researched and is very well written. One engages with a number of the individuals although not all, and the descriptions of the tra
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful and intense.

As a veteran of the U S Air Force ('72 - '75), I was offended when, while the men were navigating the obstacle course or qualifying on the M-16s, we were in a classroom being instructed on how to apply make-up. I was never in the physical shape the CST women has to be, and I'm sure many who applied were not either.
I stand in awe and humbled by the women in this story. My greatest respect is all I can offer.

R I P Lt. White, thank you for your service and sacrifice. Please kn
madeline kane
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read!!

Such an inspiring book for women of any profession. Kept me on the edge of my seat and had me at the verge of tears- these women deserve more recognition for all they've accomplished. They are not only heroes, but terrific role models.
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a phenomenal book. Inspiring, informative, and interesting. I'd recommend it to anyone. ...more
Every non-fiction book has a viewpoint, whether openly or simply by what the author chooses to put in. This book covers the role of a group of women soldiers in Afghanistan from an extremely supportive viewpoint. Since it is totally about the military experience, there is no discussion about whether the United States should be sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq (also mentioned), the causes of the insurgencies, or whether there might be a reason other than being terrorized why the Afghan wome ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Ashley's war 978-0-06-233382-7 2 13 May 28, 2016 10:17AM  
Feminism, Heroism and the Armed Forces 1 7 Jan 07, 2016 08:41PM  
Reading Along Wit...: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: “Ashley’s War” 1 12 Apr 28, 2015 06:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman's Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front
  • Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War
  • Opening Belle
  • We Few: U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam
  • Defying Limits: Lessons from the Edge of the Universe
  • Undaunted: The Real Story of America's Servicewomen in Today's Military
  • Keanu Reeves’ Excellent Adventure: An Unauthorized Autobiography
  • Necessary Sins (Lazare Family Saga #1)
  • Little Wishes
  • Raising Teens with Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents
  • It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War
  • The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green
  • A Promise of Ankles (44 Scotland Street #14)
  • The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts
  • Cardiff, by the Sea: Four Novellas of Suspense
  • Think Like a Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes with Insulin
  • Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog
  • A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley
See similar books…

Related Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
71 likes · 17 comments
“Don't tell people what you're going to do, or what kind of person you are. Just show them.” 2 likes
“Be amazing, because you are.” 1 likes
More quotes…