This page is a work in progress. Many thanks to Kayla Williams, whose article “Women Writing War” in The Los Angeles Review of Books sent me down this road and provided me with most of the books by contemporary authors in the list below.
The selection and organization below are personal, and are not intended to be definitive. Women did not serve in the U.S. armed forces officially until World War I, so to represent women’s service in earlier periods of American history I’ve chosen writing by some who served as nurses, as spies, and in disguise as men. Women also served alongside men as cooks and laundresses, some of whom were given military pensions as early as the Revolutionary War.
I hope to find much more work by women veterans in the future – especially by women veterans of color, who have served since the Revolutionary War and whose stories are underrepresented in the literature I’ve been able to find to date. (The first woman killed in combat in the service of the United States was Sally St. Clare, described as a Creole woman, who followed her husband into the Continental Army disguised as a man. During the Battle of Savannah on December 29, 1778, after her husband was shot, she replaced him at his cannon and continued firing until she herself was shot and killed. She was only discovered to be a woman after her death.)
If you’d like to recommend a book, essay, or poem by a woman veteran for this bibliography, please let me know!
Bibliography of Writing by Women Veterans
Histories of Women Veterans, Written by Women Veterans
Holm, Jeanne, Maj. Gen., USAF (Ret.) Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1992. The archivists at the Women in Military Service for America consider this book the standard-setter for history of women in the Armed Forces.
Monahan, Evelyn, and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee. A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New York: Knopf, 2010. Monahan served in the WAC from 1961-67; Neidel-Greenlee was a Navy nurse on active duty 1962-65 and 1989-91. They have written three other nonfiction books about military nurses.
American Civil War
Approximately 400 women are believed to have disguised themselves as men to fight during the American Civil War.
Alcott, Louisa May. Civil War Hospital Sketches. New York: Dover Publications, 2006. Yes, this is the same Louisa May Alcott who wrote Little Women. Her tenure as a war nurse because she contracted typhoid. It was treated with mercury, which left her disabled with pain, weakness, and hallucinations for the rest of her life.
Edmonds, S. Emma E. Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: The Adventures and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps, and Battlefields. Scituate, MA: Digital Scanning Inc., 1999. There are also editions available on Kindle.
Velazquez, Loreta Janeta. The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier. (Jacket notes suggest that this may be fictionalized autobiography…or not.) University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.
Wakeman, Sarah Rosetta. An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1862-1864. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Wakeman’s sex was discovered only upon her death from dysentery, and she is buried under her male pseudonym.
World War I
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Youth. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print. British, WWI. Originally published in 1933.
(Additional works to be added.)
World War II
Bessey, Carol Hossner. Battle of the WAC. CHB Publishing, 1999. (Memoir.)
Burrell, Prudence (Hathaway) Burns. Hathaway. Harlo, 1997. (Memoir, African-American nurse who was not allowed to treat white patients because of her race.)
Camp, LaVonne Telshaw. Lingering Fever: A World War II Nurse’s Memoir. McFarland, 2012.
Ferris, Inga Fredriksen. A Few Good Women: Memoirs of a World War II Marine. Trafford Publishing, 2006.
García Rosado, Carmen. Las WACS: Participación de la Mujer Boricua en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Appears to have been published in Puerto Rico in 2007. (Nonfiction, in Spanish. I didn’t have time to parse through the Spanish carefully, but I think it’s a scholarly work about the two hundred Puerto Rican women recruited into the Women’s Army Corps in World War II, rather than a memoir. The author was one of those women.)
Gott, Kay. Hazel Ah Ying Lee, Women AirForce Service Pilot, World War II: A Portrait. Kay Gott, 1996. (Biography; WASPs.)
Hall, Nona Jane. Our Home on the Hill, 1943-1946. Chugiak, Alaska: Northbooks, 2006. (Memoir, USMC.)
Haydu, Bernice “Bee” Falk. Letters Home, 1944-1945. Unknown publisher, 2008. (Memoir; WASPs.)
Henderson, Aileen Kilgore. Stateside Soldier: Life in the Women’s Army Corps 1944-1945. University of South Carolina Press, 2001. (Memoir in diary and letters)
Herron, Berneice A. Dearest Folks: Sister Leatherneck’s Letter Excerpts and WWII Experiences. iUniverse, 2006. (Memoir, USMC)
Hodgson, Marion Stegeman. Winning My Wings: A Woman Airforce Service Pilot in World War II. Bright Sky Press, 2005. (Memoir, WASPs.)
Holm, Major General Jeanne M. (USAF, Ret.) In Defense of a Nation: Servicewomen in World War II. Vandamere Press, 1998. (History.)
Jopling, Lucy Wilson. Warrior in White. Watercress Press, 1990. (Memoir, Army nurse.)
Kelly, Emma Chenault. Emmaline Goes to War: A Historic and Entertaining Account of One of the Most Trying Times in U.S. History…from a WAC’s Viewpoint. BLT & J Publications, 1992. (I’m not sure if that subtitle is part of the book’s official title, but I liked it so much that I included it anyway.)
Larson, Effie Ruth. I Served Uncle Sam in World War II. Vantage Press, 1996. (Memoir; WAC.)
Lockwood, Allison McCrillis. Touched with Fire: An American Community in World War II. Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1993. (History of World War II in the town of Northampton, Massachusetts, written by a former Army public affairs officer.)
Loving, Gerry A. Girl in a Pink Skirt. 1st Book Library, 2003. (Memoir; WAC.)
Pullman, Sally Hitchcock. Letters Home: Memoirs of One Army Nurse in the Southwest Pacific in World War II. AuthorHouse, 2004.
Putney, Martha S. When the Nation Was in Need: Blacks in the Women’s Army Corps During World War II. Scarecrow Press, 1992. (Scholarly; written by a professor of history who had served in the WAAC/WAC.)
Reed, Hazel Andrews. My Twentieth Century: The Autobiography That Inspires Others to Keep Moving! Rainbows End Co., 2007. (Memoir, WAAC, lots of great photos.)
Robinson, Harriet Green. The Gaylord WACs. Laurel Press, 2001. (Memoir.)
Settle, Mary Lee. All the Brave Promises: Memories of Aircraft Woman 2nd Class 2146391. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1995. (Memoir.) Settle, turned down for service in the WAC because of poor eyesight, traveled to England and enlisted in the Royal Air Force Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Settle went on to write a total of twenty-three books.
Sforza, Eula Awbrey. A Nurse Remembers. Eula Awbrey Sforza, 1991. (Memoir)
Thursten, Doris “Joy.” A WAC Looks Back: Recollections and Poems of WWII. Norvega Press, 1996. (What’s not to love about a title like that? Memoir – with poems!)
Wake, Nancy. The White Mouse. Santa Fe: Sun Books, 1987 (reprint).
Webb, Pauline Denman. Letters from Tinian 1945. Xlibris, 2009. (Memoir)
Wehry, Maxine Cardinal. A Kindred Spirit. CreateSpace, 2012. (Memoir, USMCWR)
Ruggieri, Mary A. (Kiddie). From Japan With Love: A Remarkable Memoir of Post-War Japan, Told in Letters and Photographs. Portsmouth Publishing, 2007.
Omori, Frances. Quiet Heroes: Navy Nurses of the Korean War 1950-1953 Far East Command. Smith House Press, 2001.
Earls, Linda S. Vietnam I’m Going! Letters from a Young WAC in Vietnam to her Mother. XLibris, 2012. (Memoir through letters.)
Hovis, Bobbi and Shea Buckley (Illustrator). Station Hospital Saigon: A Navy Nurse in Vietnam, 1963-1964. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1992.
O’Neill, Susan. Don’t Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam. Serving House Press, 2001. Short fiction collection by a former Army nurse.
Pilato, LtC Angel Pilato. Angel’s Truck Stop: A Woman’s Love, Laughter, and Loss during the Vietnam War. Angel Pilato, 2011.
Powell, Mary Reynolds. A World of Hurt: Between Innocence and Arrogance in Vietnam. Greenleaf Book Group, 2002.
Scarborough, Elizabeth Ann. The Healer’s War. Open Road Media Science & Fantasy, 2014. Fiction/fantasy, set in Vietnam. Scarborough has written more than thirty books, sixteen in collaboration with fantasy author Anne McCaffrey.
Sevier, Elisabeth. War Without a Front: The Memoirs of a French Army Nurse in Vietnam. Robert Sevier, 1999.
Smith, Winnie. American Daughter Gone to War. Gallery Books, 1994.
Van Devanter, Lynda. Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
Van Devanter, Lynda, ed. Visions of War, Dreams of Peace: Writings of Women in the Vietnam War. Comp. Joan A. Furey. New York: Warner, 1991. Print. Poetry, Vietnam.
Anderson, Ruth M. and J. M. (Andy) Anderson. Barbed Wire for Sale: The Hungarian Transition to Democracy, 1988-1991. Poetic License, 1999. (Memoir; USAF, Attaché Program, Hungary.)
Bell, Jerri. “Vigil.” Little Patuxent Review Summer (2014): n. pag. Print. Essay, Cold War.
Cleckley, Julia Jeter, Brigadier General (Ret.), with M. L. Doyle. A Promise Fulfilled: My Life as a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer. CreateSpace, 2014.
Crow, Tracy. Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine. Lincoln and London: Board of Regents of the U of Nebraska, 2012. Print. Memoir, Cold War.
Cummings, Mary Lou. Hornet’s Nest: The Experience of One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots. iUniverse Inc., 2000. (Memoir: 1988-1998.)
Dickerson, Debra J. An American Story. Anchor, 2001. (Memoir, USAF, African-American woman, sexual trauma.)
Diekman, Diane J. Navy Greenshirt: A Leader Made, Not Born. Alturia Publishing, 2001. (Memoir; 1970s.)
Disher, Sharon Hanley. First Class: Women Join the Ranks at the Naval Academy. Annapolis, MD: Bluejacket Books, 2013. (History; USNA integration.)
Jabs, Kathleen Toomey. Black Wings. Fuze Publishing, LLC, 2011. Mystery. Jabs has also published in a number of literary journals.
McAleer, Donna. Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line. Fortis Publishing, 2010. (History; USMA integration.)
Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Figueroa, Denise. The Most Qualified: A Nurse Reservist’s Experience in the Persian Gulf War. Vantage Press, 2002. (Memoir.)
Kassner, Elizabeth. Desert Storm Journal: A Nurse’s Story. Cottage Press, 1993. (Memoir.)
Barber, Lisa. “I Was There.” O-Dark-Thirty (Purple Heart Edition) (2013): n. pag. Print. Essay.
Bell, Jerri. “Memorial Day.” Stone Canoe (2014): n. pag. Print. Short fiction, OIF.
Blair, Jane. Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine’s Combat Experience in Iraq. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. Print. Memoir: USMC/OIF
Burton, Clarissa. “In Flight at Five Stories (Part I).” O-Dark-Thirty (Purple Heart Edition) (2013): n. pag. Print. Poem.
Fazio, Teresa. “So What’s It Like?” The Chariton Review, Vol 37 #2. Also a memoir excerpt, “No One Left Behind,” published by Words After War, and five articles in the New York Times’ At War blog.
Goodell, Jess, and John Hearn. Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq. Philadelphia: Casemate, 2013. Print. Memoir: USMC, OIF, Mortuary Affairs.
Greene, Carver. An Unlawful Order (The Chase Anderson Series Book 1). Lulu, 2011. Fiction/thriller; OEF/OIF.
Hikiji, Miyoko. All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman. Palisades: Chronology, 2013. Print. Memoir: National Guard, OIF
Johnson, Shoshana, and M. L. Doyle. I’m Still Standing. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Print. Memoir: Army, OIF, POW.
Kalinowski, Mariette. The Train. Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. Ed. Matt Gallagher and Roy Scranton. Cambridge: Da Capo, 2013. N. pag. Print. OEF/OIF.
Kennedy, Kelly. They Fought for Each Other: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Hardest-Hit Unit in Iraq. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011. Print. Nonfiction, OIF.
Kraft, Heidi Squier. Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2007. Print. Memoir: Navy, OIF, psychology.
Martin, Molly. “Hate Me.” O-Dark-Thirty 2.1 (2013): n. pag. Print. Short story, OIF/OEF.
Olson, Kim. Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011. Print. Memoir: USAF, OIF, Iraqi Reconstruction
Poppe, Tessa. “The Grass.” O-Dark-Thirty 2.2 (2014): n. pag. Print. Poem.
Polson, Shannon Huffman. North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey. Zondervan, 2013. Memoir. Polson has also published material in a number of journals, magazines, and anthologies.
Rivera, Maritza. “Walking Wounded.” O-Dark-Thirty 1.2 (2013): n. pag. Print. Poem.
Scott, Jessica. Fiction: three contemporary romance series, featuring both male and female soldiers: “Homefront,” “Falling,” and “Coming Home” – eleven novels to date. Read my review or visit her Amazon author page.
Weaver, Anna. “Morning Formation after Fight-or-Fuck Night.” O-Dark-Thirty 2.2 (2014): n. pag. Print. Poem.
Williams, Kayla, and Michael E. Staub. Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Print. Memoir: Army, OIF.
Williams, Kayla. Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2015. Print. Memoir: Army, OIF.
Wilmot, Michelle. Quixote in Ramadi: An Indigenous Account of Imperialism. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2013. Print. Fiction: Army, OIF.
Bowden, Lisa, and Shannon Cain, eds. Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq. Tuscon: Kore Press, 2008. Print. Essays and poems.
Crow, Tracy, ed. Red, White and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present. Lincoln and London: Board of Regents of the U of Nebraska, 2014. Print. Anthology of essays. The book includes the following essays by women veterans: “Middle Passage, Morning Watch” by Anne Visser Ney (USCG), “War Happens” by Linda Adams, “Breathe through Your Mouth” by Brooke King (USA), and “Sea Mommy” by Libby Oberg (USN).
Crow, Tracy. On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2015. Craft of writing guide.
Doyle, M. L. (Fiction.) Three series: a contemporary mystery/thriller series (the Master Sergeant Harper series) features a strong-willed female master sergeant. The first book of her new “Desert Goddess” urban fantasy series, about a former woman soldier possessed by a Sumerian goddess, is forthcoming in November 2015. Her “Limited Partnerships” adult romance series was published under the pen name Louise Kokesh. Visit her Amazon author page here.
King, Theresa. It Takes 3 Tate Publishing, 2014. (Fiction.) A novel about families, infertility, and egg donation.
Settle, Mary Lee. Blood Tie. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1995 (Reprint Edition). (Fiction.) Settle, an American who served in the RAF WAAF during World War Two, won the National Book Award for Blood Tie in 1978. Settle wrote twenty-three books, including the “Beulah Quintet” historical series.