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Women Soldiers of the Civil War

In the fog and friction of homework and pre-ALA activity, blogging has been hard to get to (ironically, since one of my distractions is that along with some folks reading FRL, I’m involved in setting up the LITA blog). But books… who can’t talk about books?

Early Sunday evening I stopped working on the first major revision of an essay about women in the military. For this century, I leaned on the indispensable “Military Women” by Jeanne Holm. This book, published in my early days in the Air Force (and slightly updated in the early 1990s), is a lively summary of military history and women, particularly detailed from the Great War forward. Holm is impatient with men and their quibbles, saying men are “paranoid” and have “hangups” about women in service, blunt words from a major general that made me grin in nostalgic recognition. Holm was a great comfort when I served–all us military ladies could quote her chapter and verse. Some days, in nicey-nice LibraryLand, I wish for someone who could speak truth to justice with that kind of military directness.

I also enjoyed “An Uncommon Soldier,” not only for the heartbreakingly direct letters of Sarah Wakeman, one of hundreds of women known to have disguised themselves as men to serve in the military in the Civil War, but also for the story of the editor, Lauren Cook Burgess, a Civil War reenactor who was evangelized on the issue of preserving the history of women soldiers in the Civil War when her right to serve as a reenactor was challenged. Burgess provides meticulous explanatory footnotes without barging in on Sarah’s story. “Uncommon Soldier” is brief and entertaining, with a heartbreaker ending, and would make good YA reading.

After plowing through a good twenty books, I will testify that any library needs “All the Daring of the Soldier” and “They Fought Like Demons.” These are well-written, well-documented histories of women soldiers in the Civil War, entertaining reading for any history lover, and with their extensive documentation, they play well off one another.

More later, I hope, about Link Plus, Refworks, and other biblish joys. I haven’t forgotten the review of Writers’ Market; I was waiting for more feedback from the company, but a week is enough. My next homework assignment isn’t due until after ALA, so expect a few entries this week and early next.

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