Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Share a list of nonfiction books on a topic you know a lot about. Or, ask for some advice for books on a particular topic. Or, put together a list of nonfiction books on a topic you’re curious about.
I don’t consider myself an expert on much of anything (except for how to get a newborn to sleep. I’m pretty sure I read EVERY SINGLE BOOK on this topic at one point during my first daughter’s infancy.) However, I love learning, and I can get fixated on a particular subject that interests me. This is often the case when I read a work of fiction that references issues I don’t know much about, as I then want to go and learn as much as I can about the topic in order to better understand what I read.
One recent example of this is with women and war. I’ve always found the unique experiences of women during wartime to be fascinating, both in the nature of roles they play and how they defy and subvert those roles. (Yes, I know this is geeky. I was a history major in college and if I’d gone on to study it further I probably would have done something with this topic).
Because I’m reading a book about women spies during the U.S. Civil War, I started looking at what other books out there deal specifically with women and war. Here are some books I’ve added to my list in progress:
Goodreads Summary: The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!
But against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.
Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home. The reverberations from their work there—work they didn’t fully understand at the time—are still being felt today.
Goodreads Summary: In World War II, 59,000 women voluntarily risked their lives for their country as U.S. Army nurses. When the war began, some of them had so little idea of what to expect that they packed party dresses; but the reality of service quickly caught up with them, whether they waded through the water in the historic landings on North African and Normandy beaches, or worked around the clock in hospital tents on the Italian front as bombs fell all around them.
For more than half a century these women’s’ experiences remained untold, almost without reference in books, historical societies, or military archives. After years of reasearch and hundreds of hours of interviews, Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee have created a dramatic narrative that at last brings to light the critical role that women played throughout the war. From the North African and Italian Campaigns to the Liberation of France and the Conquest of Germany, U.S. Army nurses rose to the demands of war on the frontlines with grit, humor, and great heroism.
A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Evelyn Monahan, Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
Goodreads Summary: In this riveting narrative history, women veterans from the world wars, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq tell their extraordinary stories.
Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee spent fifteen years combing through archives, journals, histories, and news reports, and gathering thousands of eyewitness accounts, letters, and interviews for this unprecedented chronicle of America’s “few good women.” Women today make up more than fifteen percent of the U.S. armed forces and serve alongside men in almost every capacity. Here are the stories of the battles these women fought to march beside their brothers, their tales of courage and fortitude, of indignities endured, of injustices overcome, of the blood they’ve shed and the comrades they’ve lost, and the challenges they still face in the twenty-first century.
Have you read any of these? Do you have any other suggestions of books I should add to my list? I would love to hear them!