Dr. Wilda Reviews: ‘All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq’

17 Aug

Moi received a complimentary copy of  ‘All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq.’ Here is the information about the book:

Title: ‘All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq’

Author:  Miyoko Hikiji

Publisher: History Publishing Company, 2013

ISBN: 978-1—933909-52-3 (hc); 1-933909-52-8 (sc-10-digit); 978-1-933909-86-8(ebk.); 1-933909-51-X (ebk. 10-digit)    

This is a quintessential American story. In fact moi thinks this quote from quintessential American, President Truman sets the tone for this review:

You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break.

Harry S. Truman

In so many ways, Ms. Hikiji embodies that quote.

The purpose for this memoir is is to tell her story. In the introduction, Hikiji writes:

THIS IS MY WAR STORY. IT’S PART MILITARY HISTORY, PART personal revelation, part therapy. To the best of my abilities, I recounted the events of my 2003-2004 deployment to Iraq from over a thousand pages of letters, mission notes, photos and newspaper articles. Though it maintains a high degree of factual integrity, my story is partly a creative endeavor and solely my own truth.

Hikiji’s story is not only personal, but it gives the reader a personal glimpse into a moment in U.S. history. She describes Iraq as a “beautiful hell.”

The book is a series of episodes and moments in time which do not necessarily occur in chronological order, it is not linear. The reader doesn’t mind the episodic treatment because the book flows and is very easy to read.

The book helps the reader to understand the effect of war on our military, but it gives an understanding of Hikiji’s blended background. Her father is Japanese and her mother is a Caucasian from Iowa. The family eventually settled in Iowa and the history of being one of the few families of color in their Iowa city is described. Race is one of the threads which gave Ms. Hikiji her grit and determination. At page 83 there is a wonderful recounting of Asian and military culture.

One of the key themes of the book was how women soldiers were viewed in military culture by others and by each woman. At page 29, Hikiji wrote:

As a “female” soldier I was always unequal and inadequate, overlooked and underestimated. I was denied my due recognition as a soldier, yet I soldiered on to the end of my enlistment contract. Despite their best efforts, the men never convinced me I was anything less. They could not reverse the previous eighteen years of conditioning that had truly prepared me for my soldierhood.

The author’s family history gave her the ability to work hard under trying circumstances and her Asian background gave her the ability to look beyond personal slights and still be loyal to the cause. This trait she apparently got from her father.  His experiences at Quaker Oats were described at page 32.

The book is well written and will keep the reader’s attention. This is an American story which weaves together the themes of family, both personal and military, race, gender, history, and the fact that ordinary people can do extraordinary things within the course of a life. President Truman was right in saying that an American is someone who believes that “everyone deserves an even break.” The men and women of the military, especially the 2133rd Transportation Company, Iowa National Guard, were examples of what President Truman meant.

This is a Dr. Wilda Reviews Best Pick with a definite thumbs up.

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