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The Lonely Soldier

The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq

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Paperback published by Beacon Press (Beacon Press)

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About This Book
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 one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, "I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine."

In The Lonely Soldier, Benedict tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. She follows them from their childhoods to their enlistments, then takes them through their training, to war and home again, all the while setting the war's events in context.

We meet Jen, white and from a working-class town in the heartland, who still shakes from her wartime traumas; Abbie, who rebelled against a household of liberal Democrats by enlisting in the National Guard; Mickiela, a Mexican American who grew up with a family entangled in L.A. gangs; Terris, an African American mother from D.C. whose childhood was torn by violence; and Eli PaintedCrow, who joined the military to follow Native American tradition and to escape a life of Faulknerian hardship. Between these stories, Benedict weaves those of the forty other Iraq War veterans she interviewed, illuminating the complex issues of war and misogyny, class, race, homophobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these stories is unique, yet collectively they add up to a heartbreaking picture of the sacrifices women soldiers are making for this country.

Benedict ends by showing how these women came to face the truth of war and by offering suggestions for how the military can improve conditions for female soldiers-including distributing women more evenly throughout units and rejecting male recruits with records of violence against women. Humanizing, urgent, and powerful, The Lonely Soldier is a clarion call for change.
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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 one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, "I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine."

In The Lonely Soldier, Benedict tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. She follows them from their childhoods to their enlistments, then takes them through their training, to war and home again, all the while setting the war's events in context.

We meet Jen, white and from a working-class town in the heartland, who still shakes from her wartime traumas; Abbie, who rebelled against a household of liberal Democrats by enlisting in the National Guard; Mickiela, a Mexican American who grew up with a family entangled in L.A. gangs; Terris, an African American mother from D.C. whose childhood was torn by violence; and Eli PaintedCrow, who joined the military to follow Native American tradition and to escape a life of Faulknerian hardship. Between these stories, Benedict weaves those of the forty other Iraq War veterans she interviewed, illuminating the complex issues of war and misogyny, class, race, homophobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these stories is unique, yet collectively they add up to a heartbreaking picture of the sacrifices women soldiers are making for this country.

Benedict ends by showing how these women came to face the truth of war and by offering suggestions for how the military can improve conditions for female soldiers-including distributing women more evenly throughout units and rejecting male recruits with records of violence against women. Humanizing, urgent, and powerful, The Lonely Soldier is a clarion call for change.
Product Details
Paperback (280 pages)
Published: April 1, 2010
Publisher: Beacon Press
Imprint: Beacon Press
ISBN: 9780807061497
Other books byHelen Benedict
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    Sand Queen
    Nineteen-year-old Kate Brady joined the army to bring honor to her family and democracy to the Middle East. Instead, she finds herself in a forgotten corner of the Iraq desert in 2003, guarding a makeshift American prison. There, Kate meets Naema Jassim, an Iraqi medical student whose father and little brother have been detained in the camp.    Kate and Naema promise to help each other, but the war soon strains their intentions. Like any soldier, Kate must face the daily threats of combat duty, but as a woman, she is in equal danger from the predatory men in her unit. Naema suffers bombs, starvation, and the loss of her home and family. As the two women struggle to survive and hold on to the people they love, each comes to have a drastic and unforeseeable effect on the other’s life.   Culled from real life stories of female soldiers and Iraqis, Sand Queen offers a story of hope, courage and struggle from the rare perspective of women at war.

    Virgin or Vamp

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    How the Press Covers Sex Crimes
    In the last few years, the national press has lavished coverage on several major sex-related scandals: the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, and the Mike Tyson case. With each event came lurid stories pitting either a loose or virginal woman against an unwilling or monstrous man. Such extreme coverage, argues Helen Benedict, perpetuates myths that are harmful to victims of these crimes (and sometimes to the accused). InVirgin or VampBenedict examines the press's treatment of four notorious sex crimes from the past decade--the Rideout marital rape trial in Oregon, the Big Dan's pool table gang rape in Massachusetts, the "Preppy Murder" in New York City, and the Central Park jogger case--and shows how victims are labelled either as virgins or vamps, a practice she condemns as misleading and harmful. Benedict also looks at other factors that perpetuate the misunderstanding of rape. For instance, she shows how the New York press presented the Central Park jogger rape case as motivated by racism because of its unwillingness to consider rape an issue of gender. She also addresses our inherent language bias, the press's tendency to use sexually suggestive language to describe crime victims, and its preference for crimes against whites. In conclusion, Benedict offers a number of solutions that will help reporters cover these increasingly common crimes without further harming the victims, the defendants, or public understanding.

    Recovery

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    Edge of Eden

    Edge of Eden
    “Not since Lord of the Flies has a novelist written with such perceptiveness about the potential for harm that lurks within the innocence of childhood.”—Paula Sharp, author of Crows over a Wheatfield "A wonderful novel and a true page-turner, a vivid story."—Joan Silber, author of The Size of the World “Reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh in its biting satire and Somerset Maugham. . . . A book that both moved and surprised me until the very last word.”—Mary Morris, author of Revenge In 1960, when her husband, Rupert, a British diplomat, is posted to the remote Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean, Penelope is less than thrilled. But she never imagined the danger that awaited her family there. Her sun-kissed children run barefoot on the beach and become enraptured by the ancient magic, or grigri, in the tropical colonial outpost. Rupert, meanwhile, falls under the spell of a local beauty who won’t stop until she gets what she wants. Desperate to save her marriage, Penelope turns to black magic, exposing her family to the island’s sinister underbelly. Ultimately, Penny and her family suffer unimaginable casualties, rendering their lives profoundly and forever changed. Helen Benedict’s acerbic wit and lush descriptions serve up a page-turner brimming with jealousy, sex, and witchcraft in a darkly exotic Eden. Helen Benedict, a Columbia University professor, has written four previous novels, five nonfiction books, and a play. Her novels have received citations for best book of the year from the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago and New York public libraries. From the Hardcover edition.

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