July 06, 2007


Last night I finished reading Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives. It was a fascinating book and a very compelling story. I now understand where a lot of the material for the TV show Army Wives is coming from, and I got a lot out of the book. But I can't help but feel that the title is a misnomer. Even the new title -- Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage -- doesn't quite fix the problem.

The book traces the lives of different Army couples from right before 9/11 to the start of OIF. It centers heavily on the five murders at Fort Bragg in the summer of 2002. In this sense, it's more like Fayetteville's In Cold Blood than just a book about Army wives. It's the story of gruesome murder, with information and insight on the military intertwined.

I came away from the book with the same feeling as when I read While They're At War. There may be some valuable insight into the military in the book, but the stories themselves are quite atypical. The average Army wife isn't an active anti-war protestor, nor does she get stabbed and burned alive by her husband. The average Army wife just takes care of her kids and her household while her husband is away. Most of what she overcomes is molehills, but it's a minefield of molehills spread out over years. But I guess that doesn't sell books. These fantastical stories are a vehicle to give people a peek at military life, but it seems a bit dangerous to me to name a book about murder, adultery, and horror as the "code of military marriage."

I liked the book, don't get me wrong. But just like Truman Capote's tome shouldn't be used as a guidebook to visiting Kansas, neither should this book be all you know about military life.

Posted by Sarah at July 6, 2007 09:53 AM | TrackBack