The following is a guest post written by former 3/75 medic Leo Jenkins:
After serving multiple combat deployments as an Army Ranger in my twenties and going on to write for a living in my thirties, I’ve found many books in the recent military history genre miss the mark. Palpable overtones of ego and exaggeration can stain otherwise brilliant pages. Furthermore, when a civilian writer steps in and tries to capture the fraternity of the military subculture, they typically fall short. With the growing debate of women’s role in war growing louder, I was intrigued to learn about a group of female soldiers that have, for years, been embedded with our U.S. Special Operations units at war.
“Their job was to be the softer side of the hardest side of war.” That razor blade of a sentence, perfectly etched, encapsulates the role of the U.S. Army’s cultural support teams or CSTs. Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield is not only an amazing inside look of a group of extraordinary soldiers, it’s a snapshot of an antiquated wall, crumbling. New York Times bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon has done something that few writers have been able to do. Gayle managed to capture the drive that exists in our Special Operation soldiers, the magnetic personal cohesion created by the arduous selection process required to work among the best in the world, and the level of camaraderie seared by war that perhaps only twins comprehend.
The tempo of “Ashley’s War” keeps the pages turning. Even with the introduction and explanation of several detailed characters, the storyline never becomes convoluted. A couple of minor phrasing choices opens the story up for a more mass appeal. Despite being a war story, “Ashley’s War” avoids a flood of unnecessary military jargon, allowing those unacquainted with a soldier’s unique vernacular to follow the storyline without interruption.