Reviews of Valiant Women by Lena Andrews

Valiant Women

The Extraordinary American Servicewomen Who Helped Win World War II

by Lena S. Andrews

Valiant Women by Lena  S. Andrews X
Valiant Women by Lena  S. Andrews
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  • Published:
    Aug 2023, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kathleen Basi
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Book Summary

A groundbreaking new history of the role of American servicewomen in WWII, illuminating their forgotten yet essential contributions to the Allies' victory.

Valiant Women is the story of the 350,000 American women who served in uniform during World War II. These incredible women served in every service branch, in every combat theater, and in nearly two-thirds of the available military occupations at the time.

They were pilots, codebreakers, ordnance experts, gunnery instructors, metalsmiths, chemists, translators, parachute riggers, truck drivers, radarmen, pigeon trainers, and much more. They were directly involved in some of the most important moments of the war, from the D-Day landings to the peace negotiations in Paris. These women—who hailed from every race, creed, and walk of life—died for their country and received the nation's highest honors. Their work, both individually and in total, was at the heart of the Allied strategy that won World War II.

Yet, until now, their stories have been relegated to the dusty shelves of military archives or a passing mention in the local paper. Often the women themselves kept their stories private, even from their own families.

Now, military analyst Lena Andrews corrects the record with the definitive and comprehensive historical account of American servicewomen during World War II, based on new archival research, firsthand interviews with surviving veterans, and a deep professional understanding of military history and strategy.

Chapter 8



ON NOVEMBER 2, 1929, A GROUP OF TWENTY-SIX women sat assembled in a dark, musty aircraft hangar at Curtiss Field in Valley Stream, New York. It was loud and cold, with a persistent hum in the background, as Curtiss mechanics got to work repairing six-cylinder Challenger engines. The day had seen bad weather, so most of the women had arrived by train or car, bundled in winter furs and leather gloves, and were now passing around a tea cart that was actually just a kettle balanced precariously in a toolbox.

In a photo taken on the day of the meeting, most of the women were adorned with cloche hats, furs, and oxford pumps—all typical of the time. Some are looking in the direction of the camera, but others are turned away, clearly enjoying each other's company. Aside from the setting, the gathering could have easily been mistaken for a luncheon, except for the presence of one woman, off to the side and ...

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Women served in every branch of the U.S. military during World War II. But, like virtually every gain by women, this opportunity didn't come easily. There was frustration at every turn, and Andrews details it all: resistance and obstructionism from Congress, from the chain of command, from male enlisted troops and officers. The courage, competence, and sheer grit of the women shines through on every page...continued

Full Review Members Only (766 words)

(Reviewed by Kathleen Basi).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Brilliantly told. Firsthand interviews with living veterans and photographs spread throughout the text bring the lives, service, sacrifice, and the struggle for military inclusion of everyday women beautifully to life...Binge-able and easily approachable for those new to the subject, this book is perfect for WWII buffs and readers of history, military history, women's history, and feminist nonfiction.

BookPage (starred review)
Valiant Women is a vital and engrossing attempt to correct the record and rightfully celebrate the achievements of female veterans of World War II.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The author shows how the Navy and Marines very reluctantly fell in line and how the sterling contributions of thousands of women eventually convinced most skeptics. It's a welcome celebration of military heroes who deserve more recognition. An invaluable addition to our knowledge of the Allied victory.

Library Journal (starred review)
Based on interviews, memoirs, and extensive archival research, this engaging book offers a wide-ranging look at women's contributions to the war effort...Readers interested in women's and military history, especially World War II events and experiences, will value this book.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Military analyst Andrews debuts with an enlightening revisionist history spotlighting combat support by women in WWII...Through interviews with the few servicewomen still alive and comprehensive research, Andrews takes an ingenious look at WWII 'in a different way.' It's a must-read for women's and military history buffs.

Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)
Andrews paints a vivid historical scene, demonstrating the transformative nature of women in the war effort--not only for the more than 350,000 women who served in the armed forces before, during, and after the war, but also for U.S. society as a whole. ... Fascinating portraits of individual women enliven the narrative.... Andrews's book is a fitting history of and tribute to the women who contributed so vitally to the Allied victory.

People, 'Best New Books'
This engaging account of the 350,000 women who served in uniform during World War II sheds new light on overlooked members of the Greatest Generation.

The Skimm
We tend to associate war with all things men: male soldiers, male officers, and male heroes. Lena Andrews, who happens to be a military analyst for the CIA, would like to have a word about that. In this can't-miss piece of nonfiction, she gets into the many achievements of the women who served during World War II — working as everything from codebreakers to translators to parachute riggers and beyond. If you're a history buff (or just love stories of women breaking barriers), add it to your list.

Author Blurb Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight and King Leopold's Ghost
Lena Andrews's lively book uncovers the little-known story of the amazing variety of women—from nurses to scientists, clerks to pilots—who sometimes had to fight a double battle during World War II: against the Axis powers, and against men who belittled their vital contributions.

Brigadier General Paula G. Thornhill, USAF (Ret.)
Focusing on a fascinating dimension of the Second World War, Lena Andrew's Valiant Women explores how American women uniquely contributed to the war effort, examining the organizational, cultural and personal dimensions, and demands, associated with their critical contributions. This illuminating account helps explain why World War II continues to cast such a large shadow over American society—and will continue to do so for years to come. Read it to learn about, and to honor, those amazing women that served.

Lt. General David Barno, US Army (Ret.), former senior American commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan
This engrossing book highlights the long-neglected but vital contributions of an entire generation of American women to the decisive allied victory in World War II. Lena Andrews introduces us to these uncommon heroes – including pilots, mechanics, intelligence experts and gunnery instructors – and weaves their exploits into a fresh and surprising chapter of the largest war in history. At turns heartbreaking and inspiring, this unique narrative shares the powerful stories of these fearless women who made that decisive victory possible.

Reader Reviews

Bookworm Becky

Humility, cutting edge, diverse… A perceptive accounting of the women’s contribution to the WWII wartime effort. 350,000 were involved in diverse roles including pilots, instructors, ferrying supplies and planes, codebreakers, translators, signal...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Santo Tomas POW camp

Army Nurses Rescued from Santo Tomas 1945 In Valiant Women, author Lena S. Andrews features the true stories of women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Among the women profiled is Navy nurse Dorothy Still, who was working in the Philippines when World War II broke out. She was taken prisoner by the Japanese and sent to Santo Tomas internment camp, where she remained for three years.

Santo Tomas was the largest Japanese prison camp in the Philippines holding enemy civilians, located at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. More than 3000 civilians, mostly Americans, were imprisoned there in tight quarters. Among them were 400 children.

In the early days, Filipino citizens were allowed to bring supplies to give to prisoners, but eventually that permission ...

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