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The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  737 ratings  ·  139 reviews
"With astonishing verve, The League of Wives persisted to speak truth to power to bring their POW/MIA husbands home from Vietnam. And with astonishing verve, Heath Hardage Lee has chronicled their little-known story — a profile of courage that spotlights 1960s-era military wives who forge secret codes with bravery, chutzpah and style. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down."

— Be
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
3 ½ rounded up to a 4.

When the draft lottery for the Vietnam War started in 1969 I was dating my husband, then a college student, he was extremely fortunate not to have been called to serve. Afterwards the Vietnam War went on and on and while I remember a lot of news about it, I can’t say that I followed it closely. That’s one reason why this book attracted my attention, I wanted to know more about the MIA’s and POW’s. I have also heard that Reese Witherspoon is going to make a movie about it.

Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
There, there darlin, I know you are upset. I promise you we’re doing everything possible to get information about your POW/MIA husband. We’re asking the Swiss Red Cross to intercede with Hanoi and give us a status report. Now dry your eyes and powder your nose. Leave it to us. We’ll get results.
But nothing happens. The North Vietnamese don’t respond. The Swiss are denied entry into Vietnam. Wives are in limbo. What are you going to do?
In The League of Wives you find out what gets done a
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
At the beginning of the Vietnam War hundreds of American soldiers were considered either missing or captured, and President Johnson’s administration approached their families with a simple message: keep quiet. With little information sharing, most families did just that. But then footage started appearing from North Vietnam confirming the worst. In one video, Admiral Jeremiah Denton discussed how great he’d been treated, but his eyes told another story— literally, he blinked out a message in Mor ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: march-2019
Thank you St.Martin's Press for allowing me to review The League of Wives. Releasing April 2/19, this is a remarkable story.

I first became interested in this book when I heard that Reese Witherspoon had signed on to adapt and produce this book. She always chooses to portray the most interesting stories about women. The League of Wives is an incredibly detailed book detailing the group of wives who's husbands were MIA in the Vietnam war. These men were captured by the Vietnamese and held in horri
Janet Newport
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Net Galley and St Martin's Press for this arc.

I was 9 years old in 1965 when this slice of history began. I remember my Mom fighting tooth and toenail to be admitted into law school (a fight that lasted her nearly eight months). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been enacted and in Birmingham, Alabama the struggle to achieve racial integration was slow and awkward at best. I was a kid. I was aware of the War in Viet Nam by junior high. It wasn't until I was in high school before my folk
Christine Mott
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
The League Of Wives
By: Heath Hardage Lee
It’s been a long time since I read something that truly moved me in a very personal way. This book is about the wives of the POW/MIA soldiers who were in Vietnam.
Sybil Stockdale’s husband Jim, was a Naval pilot who was shot down and captured in Vietnam. Jane Denton’s husband Jerry was also shot down. The men were close friends. It seemed the Navy pilots were being shot down and captured or missing.
This story tells how all the wives banded
What a disappointment. This could have been, should have been a great story. It is unfortunate a better writer did not take it on.

The book is an account of the wives of servicemen, whose planes were shot down, during the Vietnam war. These women took on the Johnson and Nixon administration, in an effort to go public with what was happening in the prison camps. For nearly 4 years the Washington DC swamp trolls, hid and falsified the truth about the torture and abuse captured U.S. military were fa
This book was a slog to get through, to the point that I didn't even care at the end when the POWs were released--I just wanted to finish. The author also did a fantastic job making it as difficult as possible for me to empathize with the wives.

(view spoiler)
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some heroes wear uniforms and other heroes are married to them.
This is the story of heroes who fought bravely in Vietnam, were captured and cruelly tortured while held prisoner.
It's also the story of heroes who fought bravely and unceasingly to bring them home.
Soon to be a movie, but I highly recommend reading the book first. It's important and worth it.
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This book provides a fascinating look at what POW wives were doing on the homefront during the Vietnam War. This book provides a different perspective on the Vietnam war era, looking at a group commonly ignored. It provides a unique glimpse into 60s culture, the Vietnam era, military standards, and the treatment of women.

Though the wives tried to play by the good military wife handbook and follow the LBJ administration's request for staying on the down low, they gave up as the years dragged on.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
These women are the true definition of grit, grace, perseverance, and strength. In the future, every time I feel sorry for myself during a deployment, I'll think about these women and the trials they endured. It can not be underestimated how rare it was for women to speak up and step up to the plate with aplomb like these women did. The "Officer Wive's Handbook" is no joke. Still, to this day, we are encouraged not to do anything to interfere with our husbands' career trajectories, The actions o ...more
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Heath Hardage Lee for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

- I could see this making a good movie.
- Different women and their personalities represented
- Recognize some of the POWs as future politicians
- A not too political look at the Vietnam War

- The feminism
- The wives went from shutting up, behaving themselves, and being good Navy Wives to forces of nature changing thoughts and minds during the Vietnam W
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The women in this book are true heroes - they took on their husband's roles and responsibilities in their marriages while they were POWs (not an easy task in those years) and charged ahead into unchartered territory as activists. Their activism may have saved the lives of their husbands and hundreds of other POWs. It is truly an inspiring story but I found it difficult not to skim through much of the detail in the middle third of the book. This is a really interesting topic that I knew very litt ...more
Betsy Ashton
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had two strong reactions to this book: wonder at the strength and courage these women expressed in fighting for their husbands' safe return, and sadness because a large number of women never were recognized by the US government as needing the same respect the wives received. These are the women who were engaged, but not yet married, to service members. We didn't count.

Heath Lee's book is a true tour de force. These women were polite, focused on their goals, and relentless in their pursuit of g
Tina Burch
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
This book tells the empowering tale of life as a POW/MIA wife and the struggles they faced to get their government to listen to them and bring their loved ones home.

It was a good read, but there were parts that I didn't feel should have been included as they didn't fit with the story, just the time. Once you got past all that and things started happening, it was a quick read. I did struggle in other areas and it was hard to focus, but I learned a lot about how the government worked and covered u
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting view points that I did not know before. I wish the pictures had been put into the book where that part was being discussed. I love history and getting a new perspective on concepts that were glossed over even in my college history education. We all need to remember what women stood up for in history and be proud of that! What will our future generations say about us? What injustices have we fought- against societal norms- that will positively impact our nations future?
Cindy Joyce
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a great telling of history; one I was not completely familiar with. The women were forces in the POW return. The Richmond connection was fun too. However, it was far too tedious and too long. I am confident she didn’t want to leave anyone out but some of the stories were repetitive and could have been left out.
Donna Hughlett
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Did not know that the wives were the ones that got the government to do something. Government actually told the wives to be quiet about it. Highly recommend!
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the history. Rarely does a book make me mad...this one did. And kudos to those brave women!
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wore a POW bracelet in high school. I remember the campaign very well. Sadly, my POW didn’t make it. This story of the POW/MIA wives is something I never knew about. It’s an inspiring story.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
League of Wives is a fascinating account of the changing role of POW/MIA wives during the Vietnam War. The wives initially remained by-the-book and kept news about their husbands and how they were being mistreated silent. However, there was soon a transition to them taking a more active role in aiding their husbands once they realized the LBJ and his administration was not doing all it could to help. While the focus of the book was on getting action to take place regarding the POWs, it also brie ...more
Mary Jo
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great account of a tragic subject. At the time I was a protected mostly oblivious high school/college student. I have to admit to some skimming but the book was an eye opening read for me even in this late part of my life.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
While I appreciate that history is nuanced and complicated, I was very bothered that the author, as a historian, left so much of her personal perspective on the page. The author painted Nixon in such a positive light and failed to take a nuanced view of the antiwar movement. Additionally, the narrative was so repetitive, the book suffered from sense of redundancy. While the personal stories POWs and their families are fascinating, I was not invested in any of the personal stories described.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On March 26, 1964 the first U.S. serviceman to be captured in Vietnam was shot down near Quang Tri, South Vietnam. By the end of the war in 1973 America listed around 2,500 personnel as either a prisoner of war or missing in action.

Now, imagine you’re the wife of one of those prisoners of war. Early on, you’re having to deal with the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and its “keep quiet” policy. The government of North Vietnam paints a rosy picture of how your spouse is being treated, e
My thoughts

Would I recommended it? Yes

Would I read more by this author? yes

Wow this is why I love reading nonfiction so much because it brings to life the history that we never hear about while we were in school because while I do remember hearing and talking about Vietnam but never have I heard anything about these brave women who came together to help bring their husbands home. As I was reading it all I can think of was how brave they were and that they deserved their story to be told and the
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
True story about the MIA/POW wives/mothers who took on the Lyndon B Johnson government to bring their husbands/sons home from Vietnam and other South Asian prisons. The LBJ gov not only gave them the run-around, they also lied about how their loved ones were treated in Communist-controlled prisons. The Viet Cong defied the Geneva Convention, by preventing the Red Cross from entering the camps, keeping the men in solitary confinement, torturing them daily, refusing letters from/to home, refusing ...more
Crystal Arzu (Bookish in Midlife)
As a Military Spouse, this book caught my attention. The League of Wives tells the story from the eyes of a group of POW/MIA spouses during the Vietnam War, and their back and forth struggle with the Government. They were instructed to keep mum on the statuses of their spouse’s conditions. In the beginning, they complied but became increasingly disenchanted with the Administration not doing enough to help our Soldiers. These Women banded together, took it public, and did what they felt was neces ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
As I read The League of Wives (from a Netgalley eARC) it made me think of the book Hidden Figures, another history of women in the mid 20th century who found themselves achieving so much more than was ever expected (especially by men). This story of the wives of Vietnam war POW and MIAs is something that definitely needed telling and it's a shame it's taken so long for it to happen. As someone who grew up in the 1960s and went to college in the early 1970s I lived through this era but although ...more
Anne Brown
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Warning - do NOT start reading this book unless you're ready to devote every waking minute to it until you reach the end. It's that good!

During the Vietnam War I went from being a college student to a wife and then a mother. I'll admit that my daily life didn't leave lots of time for following the war and especially after my husband got a high number in the lottery. Sure, I read Newsweek every week but without the ceaseless 24/7 news we have today, it wasn't at the forefront of my life.

This book
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Heath Hardage Lee for your excellent work on bringing to light yet another unknown story of strong, determined women who worked together to bring their husbands, sons and brothers home from Vietnam and for standing up and refusing to back down to our government.
I remember reading the Stockdales book when it first came out many years ago and how Mrs. Stockdale coded her letters but many of the details of her activism, for lack of a better word, were really never brought to light in tha
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Heath Hardage Lee comes from a museum education and curatorial background, and she has worked at history museums across the country. She holds a B.A. in History with Honors from Davidson College, and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. Heath served as the 2017 Robert J. Dole Curatorial Fellow: her exhibition entitled The League of Wives: Vietnam POW MIA Advoc ...more

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