The Basic Bookshelf   |   Recommended Reading
Recommended Reading—Views of World War II


Earley, Charity Adams.One Woman's Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, 1989.

“In another generation young black women who join the military will have scant record of their predecessors who fought on the two fronts of discrimination—segregation and the reluctant acceptance by males,” wrote Charity Adams Earley. Earley served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) from 1942-1946, leaving as a lieutenant colonel—the highest rank awarded women of that era below that of WAC director—to complete graduate school. Earley was the first black woman commissioned as a WAC officer and she commanded the only organization of black women to serve overseas— the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. Her autobiography tells the story of how she commanded the group as it travelled throughout Europe and how she boycotted segregated recreational facilities and handled the racist slurs of her commanding general.


Mangerich, Agnes Jensen as told to Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary L. Neidel. Albanian Escape: the True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines. The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 1999.

“Lost in bad weather, we crash-landed in German-occupied Albania, where we were hidden, led, and fed by Albanian partisans for sixty-two days,” narrates Mangerich. Mangerich kept a diary on three tiny pieces of paper of her flight to safety with her fellow-nurses, the team of medics and the flight crew. Albanian guerrillas led the group for 800 miles over Albania's highest mountain through winter blizzards, hunted by Nazis and strafed by enemy Messerschmitts. Verbatim military reports from the allied rescue team, reports from radio communications in Italy and military memoranda supplement the suspenseful rescue story.

 


Merryman, Molly. Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II. New York University Press, New York and London, 1998.

The courage and adventures of the WASPs have captured public attention, yet the only all-woman group of pilots during World War II were never members of the military, but civilian volunteers who were denied veteran status until 1977. Merryman offers a gendered history of the WASPs and their fight for veteran's status and recognition—a battle hindered because the achievements of the WASPs “challenged assumptions of of male supremacy in wartime culture.” The author examines how cultural and political attitudes toward women in war ultimately informed the decision to disband the WASPs before the war had even ended, despite public and private battles for their survival. After the program terminated, its founder, Jacqueline Cochran, prophecied that “the women's flying program will go down in history and will mean more to aviation than anyone realizes.”

Recommended Reading: Military Women in World War II