This book tells the story of Margarethe Cammermeyer, a woman who challenged the army's regulation against homosexuality. Cammermeyer was born in Norway but came to the US with her family when she was a small child. As a teenager, she thought she would become a doctor like her father, but faced with the freedoms of college-life, wasn't able to make the grades. Instead she found herself drawn to nursing. An acquaintance got her interested in the challenges and adventure of army nursing, so she gave it a try. She soon found that army life was an ideal match for her career-oriented nature. She served with her husband in Vietnam. When she had children, she was forced to leave the army, for a while, but regulations eventually changed, and she was able to re-enlist as a reservist. During her long career in the army and national guard, she won many honors. Her goal was to become a general before she retired. However, to do this, she needed a top-secret security clearance, which required an in-depth background interview. It was during this interview that she admitted that she was a lesbian. Suddenly, the army found it no longer had any use for her skills or experience. Cammermeyer was flabbergasted at this response, and began a campaign against the regulations which forbid professed homosexuals from serving their country in uniform.
The book begins with description of an ugly event that happened on the day Cammermeyer was forced out of the Washington National Guard. The text in this chapter is so angry, I almost put the book down without reading further because I wanted to read about her life, not her anger. Fortunately, I kept reading, and found myself quite taken with Cammermeyer's coming of age story. As Cammermeyer came to adulthood in the early 1960s, young women didn't have a lot of say in running their lives. They were expected to do what they were told, and what they were supposed to do, like marry, have children, keep house, and leave the career-building for the men. In trying to play her part, Cammermeyer married, had children, tried settling down on the farm. But coincident with the women's movement, she noticed that she wasn't satisfied with these actions, and set out to get advanced degrees so that she could push her career into high gear. Her husband felt threatened and abandoned by her new attitude of independence, and this led eventually to an acrimonious divorce. After the divorce, Cammermeyer had time to think about what she really wanted and liked in life, and it was at this time that she realized her innate sexual orientation. Overall the book is well written, and it provides an interesting personal account of the societal changes for women from the 1960s to the 1990s.