Women in War


324 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-670-80348-0





Reviewed by Virginia Gillham

Virginia Gillham is Associate Librarian in the Public Service Library at
the University of Guelph.


A compelling read from beginning to end, this book recounts the experiences of 25 women over more than 40 years, in wars all over the world. Women have been nurses, pilots, guerrillas, resistance fighters, spies, and saboteurs. To a woman their stories are fascinating. It becomes clear from reading these pages that they shoulder a significant proportion of the responsibility for the fighting of wars and the fighting for peace. “War is not, can no longer be, a male domain.”

Beginning with the premise that “it would be interesting to hear from women of different countries about the experiences of war they had in common,” author Shelley Saywell has interviewed female veterans of every major war since World War II. Her subjects come from Britain, Western Europe, Poland, Russia, North, Central, and South America, and Israel. After setting their cases into historical context, Saywell recounts what she has gleaned from personal interviews with each of them.

While it is clear that wide variations in personality, motivation, and post-war effects exist, there is virtually unanimous agreement about the waste and destruction of war and its remarkable lack of glorious on heroic moments.

In support of women’s studies, modern history, or sociology courses, or as interesting historical/biographical reading for pleasure, this volume is recommended.


Saywell, Shelley, “Women in War,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36482.