Read Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Online


From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana comes the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan—including Ashley White, a beloved soldier who died serving her country’s cause.In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations CFrom the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana comes the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan­—including Ashley White, a beloved soldier who died serving her country’s cause.In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Green Berets and Army Rangers on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. The idea was that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach, and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not. Though officially banned from combat, female soldiers could be “attached” to different teams, and for the first time, women throughout the Army heard the call to try out for this special ops program.In Ashley’s War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses exhaustive firsthand reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from across the Army, and the remarkable hero at its heart: 1st Lt. Ashley White, who would become the first Cultural Support Team member killed in action and the first CST remembered on the Army Special Operations Memorial Wall of Honor alongside the Army Rangers with whom she served.Transporting readers into this little-known world of fierce women bound together by valor, danger, and the desire to serve, Ashley’s War is a riveting combat narrative and a testament to the unbreakable bonds born of war.Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributor to The Atlantic’s Defense One. She is the bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and writes regularly for leading media outlets. A Fulbright scholar and Robert Bosch Fellow, she began reporting from conflict regions during MBA study at the Harvard Business School following nearly a decade covering politics at ABC News....

Title : Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062333810
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 292 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield Reviews

  • L.A. Starks
    2019-02-18 16:06

    This is one of those "if you don't read anything else this year, read this" books. Lemmon does a superb job of writing about the first women in the Cultural Support Team (CSTs) who qualified for and then carried out the goal of getting critical intel with Rangers on their missions in Afghanistan. Because they were able to speak with women and children when male soldiers could not, they contributed to the success of the missions and saved lives.Anyone who has ever trained for a goal after being told she/he couldn't do it will understand the intelligence, intensity, and sheer physical strength of these first CST women along with their early frustrations.Their performance was so pathbreakingly good it opened the administration to allowing all women to enter all armed forces jobs for which they qualified. While the book focuses on Ashley White-Stumpf, Lemmon also tells the stories of several of her colleagues.

  • Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
    2019-01-21 20:11

    At some point while reading Ashley's War, I started to read faster, flipping pages, and almost skimming. It must have been shortly after I realized that Ashley--the title character, but by no means the only female soldier documented in Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's book--was going to go to Afghanistan to serve on the front lines with special forces and wasn't going to tell her parents any more than that she would be an "enabler." They thought she was doing humanitarian work; Ashley was actually participating in raids with U.S. Army Rangers to capture insurgents in the dark of night.As the father of three daughters, it scared the living daylights out of me. If I wasn't gripped by the book before, I was after this. I couldn’t put the book down, and it was closer to sunrise than it was to sunset when I finally closed Ashley's War on the last page. Indeed, the entire book is gripping, fascinating reading, and Ashley’s War is a story that should be read by anyone seeking to understand American military policy, as well as the war in Afghanistan. The women Lemmon depicts in the story are admirable, incredible, and inspiring, and they deserve credit for their sacrifices. Ashley's War documents the creation of Cultural Support Teams by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield to "enable" Green Berets and Army Rangers on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. Simply put, aspects of Afghan culture prevented U.S. Special Forces—comprised entirely of men—from interacting with Afghan women without offending and alienating the population they were sent to protect. Because women in Afghanistan play an important role in the community and were aware of the movement of insurgents, American soldiers missed out on vital intelligence gathering that could have helped their efforts. In contrast, American women are seen as something of a third gender by Afghans, being neither men (and so prohibited from seeing, communicating, or being seen by Afghan women) nor Afghan female. Cultural Support Team members--women--could build relationships with women in ways that men could not. They could go where American men could not.In great detail, Lemmon tells the stories of the women who heard about and applied to join the teams, the rigorous physical testing required of the applicants, and the bonding and friendships that grew during the experience. Lemmon is thorough and detailed in her reporting, relying on first-hand interviews with both the women and their families. The women are tremendous, every bit as brave, courageous and strong as the men they were joining on the front line. Lemmon’s writing is easy to read and understand, and she provides a level of background that allows anyone with any level of understanding about military affairs (or none at all) to read and enjoy. In 2016, the United States moves to full integration of women in the Armed Services. When the history of women in the military is written, the Cultural Support Teams and Ashley's War may be seen as a critical moment and test in the policy shift. That said, it was hard for me to read Ashley's War and not experience some reticence about America's foreign wars in recent years. Do America’s best and brightest need to be spending their best and formative years fighting, bleeding and dying in a faraway land? Has their sacrifice made America more secure? I believe in the men and women that have gone so far and given so much, and I was moved by the realization that far too few of us recognize or acknowledge the enormous burden that those few individuals have carried as a result of the war. I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher.

  • Amy Garrett
    2019-01-29 21:18

    As a female Army Veteran I was skeptical about this book. I received a free book to review from Library Thing, so I wasn't out money if I didn't like it or could not finish it. Not that far into it, it mentioned when the Army participated in the lioness details, where females would go out into the city with the male soldiers. I was a part of that movement for a while, years ago, so i was overwhelmed with joy that it had been recognized in passing :) I found the writing to be very accurate and detailed as to what female soldiers go through in a so-called man's world :) Ashley was such a strong soldier, it was inspiring to read about her. Even though I am now out of the Army and raising a family, reading her story reminded me of what i have been through and accomplished, and how i used to think i was good enough to do anything anyone told me i couldn't. It has inspired me to try and become that woman again.

  • Monica
    2019-02-20 20:28

    Gahkz!! Oh how I have struggled with this book and review. I wanted to love this so much!! I tried. There is a dearth of stories about female heroism and this was a story worth telling. Ashley White and the women who made up the Cultural Support Teams (CST) in Afghanistan are people worth knowing about. Their accomplishments are worthy of aspiration; but this book does them little justice. In light of current events, I found the jingoism and sexism off-putting. This book is propaganda with strains of truth interspaced into a field of vacuous cheerleading. The book also spreads harmful memes about female soldiers and though I don't think it was deliberate on the part of the author, I think this book emboldens sexism and misogyny by perpetuating harmful tropes.First let's talk about what the book did well. Ashley White and the women that made up the Cultural Support Teams are remarkable. The idea of the CST was conceived from a perception that the US was missing out on a substantial bit of intelligence information regarding the Taliban and other hostile entities because the military forces were all male. Some of the most crucial information [General] Olson believed, was hiding within a population to which special ops forces, nearly a decade into the war, had virtually no access: the women. Culturally Afghani women are conditioned not to speak to, talk to, look at men who are not their husband or in their family. The ancient practice of purdah, or the seclusion of women from public view, makes women in these regions nearly invisible to the foreign men fighting in their country. There was a belief that the women had access to important information about hostile activities. The idea was to bring women out with the Ranger patrols to interact with the females in the community. The physical requirements to become part of military team were challenging. A prime requirement for these women was to be supremely physically fit because they were dispatched with Special Forces teams…specifically Army Rangers for Ashley White. It was extremely challenging and grueling to get through the training. All of the women that qualified for CST are exceptional soldiers. They had to be. Lemmon does a great job of detailing the obstacles and challenges to be chosen for CST. This includes the physical as well as the psychological challenges that these women were going to face both with the Afghani's and the US soldiers. It's after they are deployed that this book degenerates into mindless cheerleading, but what is being cheered makes no sense to me.There is a boatload of what I consider to be distasteful stuff in this book. I can't catch it all without writing a book of approximately the same length so I'll just do the stuff that bugged. First off were the characterizations of the women in CST. My goodness, Ashley was indistinguishable from all the other women. The only reason Ashley stands out in this book is that she had a supportive husband, who Lemmon writes about almost as much as she writes about Ashley. Other than that the women are distinguishable by height and hair length. Seriously, there was one person of color in the book as a candidate for CST. A particularly fit young women--one of the few African-American soldiers at selection--eyed Amber without a word, offering instead a nod of mutual respect. "Kimberly," she said, extending her hand to introduce herself. That's the last we hear of Kimberly other than yes she did make it to the CST. Amber, Ashley, Kate, Tristan, Leda, Sarah, Cassie, Rigby, Brittany, Claire, Kristen, Tracey, Tara, Meredith, and Maddie all had backstories. I wish I was kidding. Next was the overall defeminization of women. Lemmon spends an inordinate amount of time discussing how these women needed to be as good as men. How many of them wanted to be in combat. They wanted to be in the fight because that's what soldiers do. She talks of the physical fitness regimen and the physicality required for the programs and cheerleads that these women were indeed as tough as any men. She talks about how many of the women believed they needed to meet the same physical standards as men and didn't want any "special treatment". Since certain physical attributes (average strength, speed, etc) are a matter of biological fact gender diverse, by these standards only a very small margin of women could qualify as exceptional. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood This was a part of the speech at Ashley's funeral by Colonel Mark O'Donnell of the 75 Ranger Regiment. He ended with She is the Man in the Arena. Ashley rest in peace. Know that your Ranger brothers have mourned and now continue to fight, a fight that you have committed your life to. But then Lemmon also spends a tremendous amount of time explaining why these women aren't as good as men. They haven't received the same type of extensive training. The training program for female enablers didn't come anywhere close to the formal preparation of Special Forces or Ranger Regiment men. [sic] Commanders were impatient for the skills the female soldiers could provide and they wanted the women out doing their jobs now. Lemmon goes on to showcase one of the CSTs (one of the "not Ashleys") who essentially subordinates herself and the women in the program when she says These guys spend years getting trained to become Green Berets, they test themselves physically, mentally, and every place in between, and someone thinks that a couple of weeks of training is any kind of equivalent--that we deserve anything close to the accolades that these guys get? [sic] No way in hell we are even close to what they do. First of all the training was significantly more than a couple of weeks so she is already diminishing the efforts of the women. Never mind that the spec ops weren't training to do the same thing these women do nor the fact that they are putting these women in harm's way in the same manner as these trained professionals without the training. That doesn't make them more deserving soldiers, it just makes them better prepared. But such is the mentality for these women…according to Lemmon. After this Lemmon decides these women need to be refeminized once they hit Afghanistan. Here is a cringe inducing passage from the one female interpreter (civilian contractor) showcased in this group overjoyed to see other women in the field. Anne and Lane broke out their traveling cosmetic kits. It was a small gesture but for Nadia spoke volumes. "Oh my God, you wear makeup!" she burst out. [sic] "Oh, yes, always have to have mascara on," she replied. "I'm a blond and look like I have no eyelashes. I don't want to scare people!" Sigh. Needless to say, nothing says woman like mascara in Kandahar.But what bothered me most of all about the book was the jingoism and vacuous cheerleading that was throughout the book. First off, the book isn't really about Ashley White, it's about the CST program and the Female Engagement Team (FET). Here they are using Ashley's death as an hook to draw people in, but in reality she gets only slightly more attention than the most of the other women in the book. So right off, the book title is a bit of a diversion. The book is filled with the pathos of American exceptionalism.  Lemmon works really hard to lionize Ashley White.  There is no doubt that this young woman was impressive and admirable and she died doing her duty.  War is messy and oftentimes senseless.  There are a ton of senseless deaths and this was one of them.  Ashley died because she was too close to an improvised explosive device (IED) that went off in a Afghani village.  She was there to interrogate women and children. There is a nobility to being a soldier.  As a veteran I can tell you that there is a tremendous pride that accompanies being in the armed forces and it is strong and powerful.  People who have acquired the skills and education to do their jobs have a tremendous amount of pride in their work.  The American soldier is no different.  But lionizing the soldier whitewashes what they are paid to do. It reinforces a myth that ultimately proves unhealthy for free societies. Allows people to minimize and rationalize war. Allows people to stay disengaged, and incurious. It also curtails critical thinking about soldiers and war. Overall, I enjoyed Ashley's War. It was a quick read and I learned about the incredibly arduous jobs that women are doing that was previously completely invisible. In fairness to Lemmon, it was a very interesting read. I do think these noble women are helping to make the world a better place and they are doing a job that few other people can do. I just wish Lemmon hadn't tried to wrap it all in such a superficial shell of patriotism and entrenched misogyny. The story on its own merits deserves so much better. A part of me also wonders if we would have known about any of it without the death Ashley White. Because honestly, women working with special ops is a serious myth buster about the fitness for women in combat.3.5 Stars but I just didn't like it enough to round up

  • Jenny (adultishbooks)
    2019-02-08 17:06

    I'm leary of military non-fiction/memoirs due to past experiences where I have been unable to follow what was happening and/or it's written by war veterans who aren't primarily writers. This book definitely restored my faith in military non-fiction and I will be more willing to give it a chance in the future. The author does a fantastic job of portraying the information, individualizing each soldier and remaining objective, when this book could've easily detoured in preachy girl-power fluff. The story is so powerful at its core that the author does not need to add her own opinions in; it speaks for itself. Even though the story has a journalistic tone to it, I felt like Ashley was a living, breathing person who is characterized by her actions, speech, and manner. I found the story to have an excellent pace and never dumbed down the information for its readers but made it broad enough that a civilian could understand.This book was flawlessly constructed and I have so much respect for these women who are breaking down barriers in the American military but are not doing it for feminism or to make a statement. If the premise sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend it.

  • Fables&Wren
    2019-02-01 14:20

    WrensReads Review:This book was so enlightening. I first only wanted to read this book because the lovely Reese Witherspoon told me too via instagram (by me I mean she posted and told everyone to read it... it's the same thing. We are tight, obviously). Then I learned more about it and I itched to read it.Kathe Mazur does a marvelous job narrating this book. I usually find it hard to get through books that aren't actual stories, because my mind loves a good story to live in; but Mazur kept my attention and made my heart break.This is a story per say, meaning this is something that actually happened/happens. Women struggle to be seen on the same level as men. You got it folks, Feminist 101, Army edition.Women have longed to be on the front line along side the men when fighting for our country. Not just nursing or technicians (even though those are just as important) because they want to fight. They want to hold the gun, find the bad guy, and do what is right for the country that they love. But for so long, that hasn't been an option because women aren't held to the same standards. Women have a lower amount of sit ups, push ups, running distance, etc than men because women aren't built the same."SO WHAT?" is my question. As proven in this book, many women can do just as much as men and are at the top of the able-list and can do just as many things as hard as men can.CST: Cultural Support Team(s)The world finally realized that they needed women to help them in the war, because some things only women can do (espeically like searching women for bombs in the Middle East, and talking to them without offending them and without a supervisor-male-family-member present). So a team called CST was put together to work besides some of the toughest men in the army: the Rangers.This book follows events and the troubles of Ashley, Nadia, Lane, Anne, Kate and many other women who were apart of the first to join this new elite team. You get to learn back stories of each of the girls and learn more about women in the army. For example, they still wore make up when they wanted to but they worked out just as hard and as often as their male companions. You learn you can be an army woman and still act and look like a woman. The writing in this book was wonderful. I am so in love with this book. It will break your heart while enlightening you on what really goes on beyond what the news tells you. I encourage anyone and everyone to read this book. It was really spectacular.WrensReads | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

  • Laurie
    2019-02-19 19:04

    I never knew that women were trained to be special forces soldiers until I read this book. This elite group of female soldiers who were trained to accompany the Rangers and a Green a Berets on missions in Afghanistan are one of the best kept secrets of the military. The book is both inspirational and tragic as most books about war heroes are, this one maybe a little more so because we're so unaccustomed to the war heroes being heroines.

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    2019-01-29 20:22

    If I were rating the awesomeness of Ashley White and her comrades-in-arms, this book would get 5 stars. But what I’m rating is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s work.This book follows a team of female soldiers who are trained to accompany the (at the time) all-male Special Forces on missions in Afghanistan as “Cultural Support Teams,” to search and question women and children, which men cannot do without offering grave insult. The name of the team may sound fluffy but their work is anything but: they’re jumping out of helicopters in the dead of night, trekking miles in full gear and sometimes coming under fire in raids intended to capture insurgents. And because at the time this book is set, in 2011, combat positions were still officially closed to women, those who signed up were the best, brightest, and most eager for combat of all the women in the U.S. military. They are a tough and impressive bunch, to say the least, and 1st Lt. Ashley White especially so.And this is a readable and compelling story, moving quickly and with lots of dialogue; I read most of it in one day. Oddly, more than half of the story follows the selection and training process, before the women even deploy (even though their training is abbreviated compared to the standard Special Forces training), but even so, after a first chapter that describes the high-level creation of the program in perhaps unnecessary detail, it makes for a gripping read. And it’s great to see the camaraderie that quickly develops among the women, the same sort of bonds that famously exist between men who fight together. Notably in a book about an unpopular war, the policy and morality of the war itself are never mentioned, but perhaps that's true to the soldiers' worldview.Nevertheless, this isn’t the best book it could have been. Aside from Ashley, it struggles to distinguish the women from one another. It gives many backstories early on, before the women even meet; some are later relevant to the narrative and some aren’t. Although every one of these women is amazing and incredible compared to the average person, they’re quite similar to one another: they come from military families and families that promote independence and responsibility from a young age; they’re athletic and competitive and driven as girls to prove that they’re as tough and strong as the boys; they’re tough and intense and seeking action, and thrilled to join the CSTs. And while I appreciate, ideologically, that Lemmon is focused on their strengths and careers – it’s mentioned in passing that a couple of them are mothers, or on the verge of divorce, and then it never comes up again; in general only men get this treatment in literature, while women are defined by their personal lives no matter their professional accomplishments – the author doesn’t quite seem to grasp that characters must be distinguished from one another in some way. When hearkening back to someone profiled previously, Lemmon tends to give anodyne reminders such as “Sarah, the Guard soldier and track star from Nevada,” which doesn’t actually stand out at all in this group – I don’t remember which state, sport, and branch of the military goes with which character. It’s no surprise to me that, after Ashley, it’s the Afghan-American interpreter, Nadia, who is mentioned most often by readers: not because Nadia gets more page time than Ashley’s sisters-in-arms, but because she’s far different from the rest and therefore more memorable.The other major issue is attribution. While the book contains a lot of dialogue and accounts of people’s thoughts and feelings, the author never tells us how she collected her information. Was she present for the training (perhaps explaining why the book spends so much time on it)? If so, bringing in a journalist at the program’s inception would tell us quite a bit about the military’s view of it. When she writes from the point-of-view of a soldier who didn’t make it, did she ever meet that person or is she extrapolating from what others remember her telling them? (view spoiler)[Whether the author ever met Ashley is a big deal. I assumed throughout that she had, given how much she writes about Ashley's inner life, but her acknowledgments to Ashley's family make it sound as if she didn't. (hide spoiler)] Unfortunately, not only is the author never clear about this, but there are no endnotes to reference her sources for facts. This leaves me wondering just how careful the background research was. At one point, amusingly, she asserts that the sewage pond behind Ashley’s camp is “roughly the size of Lake Michigan”; while that mistake is obvious (if true, the pond would occupy nearly 10% of Afghanistan’s land area), it made me wonder if there were other errors less evident to a civilian reader.And finally, the story ends abruptly; given that a few years passed between the end of the soldiers’ deployment and its publication, it would have been nice to know what these women did next. Maybe one of them will write her own account in the years to come. Overall, I enjoyed the soldiers’ stories and expect they will be inspirational for many, but doubt I would read another book from Lemmon.

  • Lynne Spreen
    2019-02-08 21:30

    I wanted to give this book 5 stars just out of gratitude for the women who are contained in its pages. It's an interesting look at brand-new developments in warfare, in terms of female soldiers who are badder and smarter and more awesome than anybody else on the planet, and compared to their male counterparts, they have to do it all backwards and in heels. This is the telling of their efforts to make a contribution as women warriors, at a level of competence and power that I doubt many men achieve. They are stellar in every way, well capable of their high level of service in a war zone, and America is lucky to have them.However, there are some flaws in the structure of the book. The first half is backstory and getting to know the female soldiers, then their selection and training process. So for half the book, we're being introduced to many different women and their individual backgrounds. Interesting, but more like extended bios rather than an actual story. Finally they go to Afghanistan, which is where it became compelling for me. It was quite a long buildup before we got the actual war-zone story. And I was disappointed not to get any resolution with Nadia. She was a fascinating person, but her story just ends when she has a set-back on the battlefield. We never hear what happened to her. The book was fact-heavy and could have used more emotion but as an inside look at the experience, it's almost our patriotic duty to read this book, because there are people out there doing heroic things for our country that we don't even know about. So it was well worth the read and I recommend it.

  • Becky
    2019-01-29 19:10

    4.5 I was a little hesitant to read this book, I am not much for "war" stories especially in a non-fiction book. I heard about this book from our NYS Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, she does an on line book group for women with books about women. I missed the group read but I still wanted to read the book.It is a true story about a select group of women in 2010 who have trained to become a "cultural support team" to work along side the Green Berets or Army Rangers. They are able to help these Special Ops groups because they are women & can speak to Afghan women & comfort children, while the Rangers are searching for insurgents in compounds & homes.You learn a little about many of the women in this elite group, not just Ashley, who has her name in the title.Their training was intense but to me it was their desire to do anything they could to support these teams & to be there for our country. Each women was very special in her own way. They knew men in the military would have a hard time with this new group of women, but in time they were welcomed & respected. It also gave me a glimpse of what women in the military are like & my impression changed greatly after reading this.Very good book-& amazing service from these women.

  • Alison (ง'̀-'́)ง
    2019-02-06 20:24

    Institutionalized misogyny comes from female authors too. Every introduction of the women soldiers began with a vivd physical description of her hair, eyes and body type... oh and her motherhood status. Not a single one of the male soldiers described in the book received this same embarrassing treatment. They were, in fact, defined by their military accomplishments, education and love of whiskey. Ashley White was an American hero and she deserved a well written story... perhaps by someone with combat experience and a modicum of feminism thought. Not this fluff bomb.

  • J L's Bibliomania
    2019-02-10 21:25

    Nicely done account of the selection, training, and selected missions of the first Cultural Support Teams. The CST were military women who were attached to the Special Operations forces to "enable" them by searching and gathering information from women within Afghanistan. Their successful work, along with that of other female soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, was one of the factors leading to the official removal of the ban on women in combat positions in the US Military and the ongoing discussion of how/where women might fit into elite forces such as the Army Rangers.I did find parts of this book difficult to read, especially immediately after I realized why the book was titled Ashley's War. (view spoiler)[The book is in many ways a tribute to newlywed Ashley White-Stumpf who was killed by an IED in Kandehar (hide spoiler)]

  • Brittany Barnes
    2019-02-15 19:03

    I pre-ordered a copy of the book as I have a personal connection with Ashley. While I did not know her well, I am struck by how spot on she is portrayed through the words of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. I'm inspired by her courage, and the fortitude of her sisters in arms in the inaugural CST class. I am so glad that her story and the legacy of the CST program is being shared through this book and the upcoming film. May Ashley's memory live on.

  • CiderandRedRot
    2019-02-16 16:02

    Okay, so the female-only Cultural Support Teams aren't special forces. They undergo a radically truncated version of the training process, designed by necessity to allow them to assist the menfolk they're accompanying, not to equal them in terms of skill, training or physical strength. Moving along from that: Jesus fuck, these women are stone cold impressive badasses in their own right. The book is named 'Ashley's War' after the titular 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf - by all accounts a modestly understated hell of a soldier - but realistically it's a celebration of all the woman who went first as CSTs. Tzemach Lemmon perhaps doesn't over-examine what this might mean in a military, cultural or sociological context, which is probably to the book's credit since it doesn't dilute the message of what these woman achieved or their collective stories. However, there is still the odd hint: the fact that gender is sometimes conveniently overlooked in assigning positions in the US military to get around gender restrictions, or a fellow soldier questioning what it really means to be an alpha female in the face of Ashley's superlative, but un-showy physical and teamwork skills and her quiet confidence.Ultimately this book feels like an impressive and highly compelling examination of something still forthcoming, with the upsetting stinger of White's death and an air of uncertainty overshadowing all. It feels like it could be the first text of something bigger, and a fitting tribute to White and all that came with and followed after. It's one I'm going to remember.

  • Nura
    2019-02-04 18:13

    #4 Read a book that is set in Middle EastWomen involvement in war wasn't something new. When first World War erupted, women depicted as someone that need protection therefore men have to go to war. The death of women even used as a propaganda weapon, particularly when those women were nurses. And the attack of Pearl Harbor in 2nd WW change the image. In the dire need to win the war, the govt transformed the fragile and beautiful females into bold and independent women. But war in 21st century give women another different role to served as told in this book. It had a similar taste with Band of Brothers aka E Company. These band of sisters tells the story of the first women in U.S. Military Special Ops. The term best of the best seem fitted for these women. They were all soldiers, and realize that death was a part of their business. But these women refuse to quit. They beat fictitious movie characters while doing their best in real life.

  • Mark Guthrie
    2019-02-07 17:24

    Outstanding read and recap of the plank owners of the Army CST. The book could have gone the preachy route (IMO) but instead stuck to the facts and was a hard nosed recap of the formation and building of a very unique sisterhood. One thing I would have like to have seen would have been a "Where are they now?" section. Highly recommended.

  • Laura Florand
    2019-02-18 19:28

    Compelling stories of incredibly impressive women. They're inspiring in their strength. An important book, and moving.

  • Elaine
    2019-02-14 15:10

    I started this book with great trepidation. I do believe that the true definition of feminism is a womans right to live her life the way she pleases but I did not want to read three hundred pages of feminist propaganda. I support a womans right to choose what is right for her without a governing body interfering as long is it brings no harm to others. I have never enjoyed reading books with a "hidden" political agenda so I wasn't quiet sure I would be able to enjoy this.I was in for a surprise. The author told the story of these amazing soldiers wonderfully. She did not try to preach to the reader and she rarely ventured outside Ashley Whites story except to give the reader a bit more understanding of the situation or another person's backstory. This particular book gave a true accounting of what it is like to be a female soldier who desires to serve her country to the fullest of her abilities without the government telling her she isn't capable. The female soldiers who joined CTS (the cultural support team to the Seals, Green Beret, and Rangers) are an amazing group of women. They accompanied the special ops teams out during patrols as enablers to help provide better ential that would save lives. After reading this I have decided that I am officially converted to supporting women who choose to be in the infantry and take part in combat. The women who earned a spot in the coveted CTS teams didn't want to be given their position. They wanted to earn it under the same circumstances as any soldier. They didn't see themselves as female and they didn't see the Rangers and Green Berets as men. They were all just soldiers trying to serve their country with honor. The members of CST were the first to admit that if they could not pass the same physical and mental tests as their male counterparts then they had no business being in combat. I found that to show the true strength and nobilty of a soldier.One thing stood out to me that I think needs to be noted. The small group of women who make up this book did not try to be men. They did not try to be alphas. They put on eyeliner and mascara before leaving base to be dropped into the city for patrols. They kept their hair long and baked bread. They did not in any form try to hide their feminity. Having never been in the military I don't know from personal experience but it seems that women in the military get a bad rap. Either they're husband hunting or playing at being male. I've read many biographies and historical accounts of female nurses during WWll and Vietnam. They all seemed to be respected by the majority of soldiers and treated kindly in deference of their gender. In Ashleys War the females were treated as soldiers. The gender barrier didn't exist once the soldiers were use to having them around. It was as new to those Seals ans Rangers as it was to the women in CST. I hope this begins to show a trend and bodes well for the future of our armed forces.I would recommend this book to anyone so I hope you try it!

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-18 20:21

    '"War is chaos. That means you might be alone in a room with twenty women, one of whom is actually a heavily armed man in disguise. Nine times out of ten you will have other soldiers around you, pulling security. But there is a one percent chance you are going to be in that room by yourself. And you must be ready to react if that male belligerent tries to overpower you. You better be able, in that instant, to pull out your gun and shoot someone in the face without thinking about it.At the end of the day, our world lives and dies by a gun," he [Rangers Sergeant Scottie Marks] said. "That is the bottom line. Your job is not to be a Ranger and you are not a part of the Ranger assault team. You are not there to be a gunfighter. But we are going to put you in situations where you will have to flip that switch from 'CST' to killer in a heartbeat. No matter how nice and quiet and even safe the moment fells," he continued, "you are always in the middle of a fight. Any minute the world is going to turn to shit, and you have got to keep that in the forefront of your brain. ..."'There are a dozen reasons why I'd love to see more people read "Ashley's War." If you're in a book club, it will create one of those evenings where you're still passionately discussing the book as you head out to your cars. You'll be inspired by a group of women who didn't just lean in, they went all in to secure a place in the Cultural Support Teams (CST) pilot program in Afghanistan. Their commitment to break barriers, prove their physical and mental strength, and win the trust of the Rangers is awe-inspiring. Read it to get an understanding of what troops are experiencing in Afghanistan. Read it to get a perspective on the debate about whether women should serve in combat roles. Read it to honor First Lieutenant Ashley White-Stumpf and all the women who served as CSTs, as well as the translators who worked with them.Cultural Support Teams. Sounds so warm and friendly, right? In reality, CST soldiers - all female - went out night after night with their Ranger teams to get intel and track down terrorists. They had to both win the trust of the women in the homes being searched and stay battle ready the whole time. The CST program was created because of a crucial cultural barrier in Afghanistan: "foreign troops cause a serious affront to Afghan families when a male solider even catches sight of a woman's face. Searching a women is an even graver offense. By engaging with Afghan women, the male soldiers are disrespecting them as well as the men in their family charged with protecting them. The act violates a code of honor that lies at the very foundation of their [Afghan] society." Bottom line: US troops were at a serious disadvantage by not having access to half the country's population. I'm giving "Ashley's War" five stars but should warn other readers that the book starts off a little confusingly as we get introduced to a lot of women in quick succession and it was sometimes hard to remember who was who. Don't stop. It all falls into place and then (as another reviewer mentions) you reach a point where you don't want to stop reading. I was sneaking time with this book whenever I could and stayed up late because I just had to keep going. Thanks to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for turning this from an untold story to a story well told.

  • Lori Boos
    2019-02-13 16:07

    love books where I learn something - and I learned quite a bit from Ashley's War! Loved it.

  • Jonathan
    2019-01-29 14:25

    I picked this up at a trade show in an advance readers copy -- and what a serendipitous find. This is truly a gripping read, as one follows Ashley through arduous testing and training to be found fit enough for service as a Cultural Support Team member in Afghanistan. She and the other members of her cohort are a very impressive group. The book seems very thoroughly researched and is very well written. One engages with a number of the individuals although not all, and the descriptions of the training testing and missions are absorbing.

  • Wanda
    2019-01-22 15:26

    Powerful and intense.As a veteran of the U S Air Force ('72 - '75), I was offended when, while the men were navigating the obstacle course or qualifying on the M-16s, we were in a classroom being instructed on how to apply make-up. I was never in the physical shape the CST women has to be, and I'm sure many who applied were not either. I stand in awe and humbled by the women in this story. My greatest respect is all I can offer.R I P Lt. White, thank you for your service and sacrifice. Please know that you made a tremendous difference

  • madeline kane
    2019-01-24 15:18

    One of the best books I've read!!Such an inspiring book for women of any profession. Kept me on the edge of my seat and had me at the verge of tears- these women deserve more recognition for all they've accomplished. They are not only heroes, but terrific role models.

  • Branden
    2019-02-02 21:17

    I just finished this and all I can think to say is...holy crap. For those interested in the war in Afghanistan, women in combat in the modern age, or just a damn fine military biography in general, this book is a must read.And to the author: Thank you, from a 75th Ranger vet. Well done.

  • Charles Hamilton
    2019-02-13 21:07

    Great subject, terrible writingThe subject matter demands a well written accurate portrayal of these women. Not the sophomoric style this book was written with.

  • Wendy
    2019-02-09 22:03

    This was a phenomenal book. Inspiring, informative, and interesting. I'd recommend it to anyone.

  • Susan Anders
    2019-02-18 17:31

    I admit in the beginning of the book I was literally skimming the pages of the first two or three chapters. As the author started to get more into the female's backgrounds and their determination to be their best, it started to grab my attention. Once I understood the relationships these women, particulalry Ashley, had at home and how they were chosen to be part of a special ops program, I was gripped. The grueling training was enough to make me have 100% respect for these bad ass women, and as they were sent out on their missions it became clear that these ladies had major gut, determination and love of country that I can't even imagine would ever drive me to do the things they did. The bonds and friendships were also amazing and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon did a wonderful job of describing just how much it helped these women get through their missions and ultimately do the job they were set out to do and change the face of women in the military forever.

  • Toni
    2019-02-17 15:21

    This was a true story about a few women who had the first opportunity to stand on the front lines alongside men in the military in Afghanistan. It follows them from joining the military, to getting a spot on this select team, to their deployment to Afghanistan. It talked a lot about how far we have come with treating women in the military as equals. I enjoyed the second and third parts of the book more than the first. But overall, a fantastic story. I took a star away because of the language.

  • Ingrid
    2019-02-08 15:10

    Cant wait to talk to my book club girls about this!

  • Shelia
    2019-01-29 14:05

    Inspiring. If you like to bad mouth the younger generation I'd suggest reading this book and updating your attitude.