Love My Rifle More Than You

Love My Rifle More Than You

Young and Female in the U.S. Army

Book - 2006
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Kayla Williams is one of the 15 percent of the U.S. Army that is female, and she is a great storyteller. With a voice that is "funny, frank and full of gritty details" (New York Daily News), she tells of enlisting under Clinton; of learning Arabic; of the sense of duty that fractured her relationships; of being surrounded by bravery and bigotry, sexism and fear; of seeing 9/11 on Al-Jazeera; and of knowing she would be going to war.With a passion that makes her memoir "nearly impossible to put down" (Buffalo News) Williams shares the powerful gamut of her experiences in Iraq, from caring for a wounded civilian to aiming a rifle at a child. Angry at the bureaucracy and the conflicting messages of today's military, Williams offers us "a raw, unadulterated look at war" (San Antonio Express News) and at the U.S. Army. And she gives us a woman's story of empowerment and self-discovery.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 2006, c2005
ISBN: 9780393329223
0393329224
Branch Call Number: 355.00820973 Wil 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 292 p. :,ill
Additional Contributors: Staub, Michael E.

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AaronAardvark1940
Apr 23, 2018

This book was an accidental read for me; the topic sounded interesting. Nothing much that I didn't already know about the Army, Iraq, the war, or Islam. But Williams' tale of her experience as a woman in the service was enlightening. The only time in my Army experience that I saw women in uniform was during Finance school at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in the early 60s.
Things change...

m
mikemarotta
Dec 31, 2017

Kayla Williams writes from the gut, the heart, and the mind. She joined the army after college–and after marriage and divorce. Her early life was not easy, but “sons of the sinner, sons of the saint,/who is the child with no complaint?” She always was her own person, taking risks and accepting the consequences, even as she entered her teens. So, it was fitting (though not predictable) that ten years later, she joined the army, pretty much on a dare. She served in Iraq in 2003-2004 as an interpreter.

Her insights into adjusting to war are deep and meaningful. She speaks not just for herself, but from her observations of others. Even those who originally embraced the locals came to distrust and despise them, not for anything they did, but for being the cause of the soldier’s being in an untenable situation.

In addition to Iraqis, Williams met two other groups who were then just footnotes, and who have since been catapulted to the headlines: the Peshmerga militia of the Kurds; and the hapless Yezidi.

Williams maintained a vegetarian diet while in combat for a year. She lost 30 pounds, down from 145, but stabilized with food from the local Kurds. She also was able to get some halal and kosher MREs, but not without hijacking them. (No one was eating them. They were to be destroyed. But she was not Jewish, and “vegetarian” is not a recognized religion.)

Toward the end of her deployment, she discovered Atlas Shrugged, and it resonated with her. Focused and detailed, she often ran headlong into brazen incompetence.

Much of the narrative is about the unrelenting sexual harassment. In small words and grotesque actions, the female soldier is barraged every hour of every day.

f
floy
Jul 04, 2011

This book was written by a female army linguist who served in Iraq. The writing seemed like excerpts from a journal.
The title of the book comes from an army marching chant: Cindy, Cindy, Cindy Lou/love my rifle more than you/you used to be my beauty queen/now I love my M16.
Although she doesn't define herself as a feminist, the author writes frankly about the rampant sexism in the military. She states that women in the military are considered to be one of two things: a slut or a bitch. The men define the slut as someone who sleeps with everyone. The bitch is defined as someone who sleeps with everyone except you. Yikes.
Before she joined the military she'd had a Muslim Jordanian boyfriend so she felt she could relate to the people of Iraq, their language, religion and customs. To her dismay, eventually she began to feel like most of the Army military in Iraq - she was sick and tired of them. She tries to explain how war impacts a person. She talks of her own depression in Iraq and the high suicide rate among American soldiers serving there.
She writes of serious things and not so serious things: trying to find vegeterian food, talking with the locals (she speaks Arabic), being asked to participate in humilating a naked Iraqi prisoner,and her problems with her supervisors.
She seems liberal at times but then disconcertingly conservative (she likes Ayn Rand). She refers to male soldiers as men and female soldiers as girls. They deserve respect; they deserve to be called women.
The book isn't the best book out there about the war but it's a quick and easy read and it helped me understand what it's like over there.

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