Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army

Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army

3.4 9
by Kayla Williams
A brutal and honest account of being a woman among men in the United States Army.

SMART, ATTRACTIVE, and full of insight, Kayla Williams was part of the 15 percent of the United States Army that is female. She is also a great storyteller with a voice that leaps off the page -- fiercely funny, tough, vulnerable, and humane. She tells of why she enlisted and


A brutal and honest account of being a woman among men in the United States Army.

SMART, ATTRACTIVE, and full of insight, Kayla Williams was part of the 15 percent of the United States Army that is female. She is also a great storyteller with a voice that leaps off the page -- fiercely funny, tough, vulnerable, and humane. She tells of why she enlisted and how she came to be assigned to learn Arabic; of her fractured relationship with a Palestinian boyfriend and later her failed marriage to a civilian; of her experience watching 9/11 unfold on Arabic television and the drunken parties at her army base in the weeks leading up to her deployment to Iraq.

While deployed, Williams is immersed in bravery and bigotry, strength and fear, sexism and loyalty. She witnesses death up close and sees soldiers cross the line between interrogation and torture. She befriends locals but finds herself pointing her weapon at an Iraqi child. An unsparing self-portrait of a rebellious patriot, Williams's story offers an unprecedented and no-holds-barred young woman's perspective into the U.S. Army.

About the Author
KAYLA WILLIAMS was formerly a sergeant in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Ms. Williams makes it clear that she can take as much of this as the next guy can - and that it came to matter very little to her whether the next guy was male or female. She also lambastes any women who fall back on tears and weakness, even if those women ranked as her superiors. As this lively war diary makes clear, Ms. Williams saved her own hurt feelings for better occasions. When she came home to see CNN treat ducklings caught in a sewer drain as a news story "while the story of soldiers getting killed in Iraq got relegated to this little banner across the bottom of the screen," that was what hurt.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Williams's account of her Iraq service tries very hard to be a fresh and wised-up postfeminist take: Private Benjamin by way of G.I. Jane. Showy rough language peppers every paragraph, and Williams's obsessive self-concern, expressed in a lot of one-sentence paragraphs beginning with "I," verges on the narcissistic. The surprise is the degree to which the account succeeds and even echoes military memoirists from Julius Caesar to Ernie Pyle. The fear, bad weather, intermittent supplies, inedible meals (especially for the vegetarian author) and crushing boredom of life in the field are all here. Williams's particular strength is in putting an observant, distaff spin on the bantering and brutality of barracks life, where kids from the Survivor generation must come to terms with a grim and confusing reality over which they have little control. The differences are less in the sexual dynamics (which mostly are an extension of office politics) than the contradictions of the conflict in which the troops are engaged, which Williams embodies more than illuminates. She learns Arabic; there's a Palestinian boyfriend and a short, failed marriage to an Iraqi civilian. While an ex-punk, Chomsky-reading liberal, Williams questions the day-to-day conduct of the war without ever really engaging with its underlying rationale. Such nuance, though, might be too much to ask. Agent, Sydelle Kramer. 8-city author tour; 20-city radio satellite tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is a story of a slut and a bitch! What an unfortunate self-characterization for a woman who is obviously terribly bright and sensitive but who has suffered an admittedly hard life. Williams focuses on her training as an army intelligence expert and her year of service attached to various infantry units in Iraq in 2003. Her prose is rough, vulgar, and explicit about her experiences, her leaders, and her colleagues. Her knowledge of Arabic gave her the opportunity for closer relationships with the Iraqis, which forms an interesting part of the story. The book's title is horribly misleading, for her effectiveness in doing her job, her essential kindness, and her intelligence have far more important consequences in her life than her rifle. Recommended for public library collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.] Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

W W Norton & Co Inc
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.34(h) x 0.99(d)

Meet the Author

Kayla Williams was formerly a sergeant in a military intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). She lives near Washington, DC.

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Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a pretty good book. For an accurate account of how many soldier's think, read this or 'The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell.' It is a view from one person's perspective in one little corner of the big green machine. She writes about many of the things that anyone whom has ever served can relate to in various degrees. From incompetent leaders, supply problems, various attitudes between soldiers and some of the experiences of being a female in mostly male units. Their days are spent doing a job, not fighting for democracy or defending freedom or whatever other slogans those who send the young off to war always promote. She does seem to have a negative attitude, but given the circumstances who can blame her?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though the book meanders a bit and sometimes reads like a personal diary with way too many personal details and jargon, it still serves as a must read for those of us who¿ve experienced war and survived, those who want to know what war and military life is like from a woman¿s perspective, and those women who are considering joining the military but have only spoken to a recruiter. ¿Love My Rifle More Than You¿ is a frank, shocking, and honest look as life in the military from an intelligent new author. And I absolutely loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having just finished reading this book, all I can say is that after eight years of service thus far in the Army, I know what Ms. Williams feels. The struggles that women must face in a male dominated career. Each day is a challenge in itself, and we tell ourselves to keep going because if we quit, then we are weak. We fight against our leaders, our peers, and even our subordinates at times. Her story is graphic at times, honestly brutal in her words, as this is the reality of the Army. Life in the military is not an easy one, and her story has given me the courage to tell my own as well when I ETS this January. I salute you Ms. Williams, for your service to our Nation and as a sister-in-arms. HOOAH!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a female soldier deployed with the 101st Airborne Division during the same time Williams was, so I was initially very excited to pick up this book. While some parts of the book are enjoyable, it is basically an incredibly arrogant, self-satisfied, foul-mouthed account of Williams's time in Iraq.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i was really excited when i saw this book and picked it up right when i saw it. i have read a lot of military books and memoirs on iraq and most of them have been pretty good. it was very nice to see a book written by a woman in the army and i was looking forward to getting to read about a different prespective on the war. however, when i started reading i found this book to be extremely disappointing. this book is not very well written and reads like a poorly written internet blog or journal. i thought that this book focused mainly on personal complaints the author had, and honestly i felt like most of them were quite trivial and not worth reading about. another reviewer mentioned this already, but listening to the author complain about there not being enough vegetarian MRE options was ridiculous and pathetic. she is in a war-torn country, picking through MRE's because she wants to be a vegetarian. i thought that this book puts a bad face on women in the military. overall, there are many different things that could have been better in this book. it seems like it was written just for the sake of writing a book after being at war. it is not well thought out, interesting, or well written. skip this one and try out My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Buzzell.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kayla Williams and Michael E Staub put together a raw and intense book. Kayla was deployed February 2003 for the initial push into Iraq and remained there a year. Putting the foul language that was used throughout the book aside, most of the content seemed to be more about the sexual harassment that went on while Kayla was in-country. I wondered why she didn¿t expect it being among so many men. There were times when I thought that she should have expected some of the harassment but then there were other times when I began to feel her pain. Kayla said that sexual comments, gestures and content were everywhere. She wrote about the soldiers in her company and how they did or didn¿t get along up and down her chain of command. Many people were under stress but that didn¿t seem to be brought out in this book. As I got deeper into the book Kayla did begin to bring out more about her wartime experiences. So while at first I was not impressed with the book it did improve as it went along. She wrote this book so she could tell people what it was really like being a woman in the military and how she was treated. She pointed out the various tasks she did including supporting the infantry in almost every way, kicking down doors, carrying and using weapons, crowd control, negotiating with the locals and more. She wrote about an incident involving an explosion. They found three locals bleeding. One guy was much worse off. She tried to reassure him in Arabic while holding his legs and covered in drying blood. I wanted to read about daily life in Iraq for a young enlisted female soldier and while some of that was included, this book was mostly about being harassed by all the guys. This was the first book I¿ve read by an enlisted woman who went to Iraq so I was hoping it would be better and though she managed to explain some things, others were left to wonder about. The book did have its good points. It showed how sexist attitudes have not changed over the years. It showed how far women have come in their fields of expertise. It showed how strong the women are today and that they can be on the forward lines. And it also showed how screwed up this war has been. Kayla is now stateside and already exhibiting signs of PTSD. Would I recommend this book? Yes! I think its worth reading by everyone. It can be used to show how attitudes still need to change within the military. However I think her story could have been written just as well without the foul language used throughout it and it still could have been better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here let me save you the time and money I wasted. 30% of this book talks about how much she disliked her staff sergeants..down to petty school girl detail. Oh she disliked everyone she worked for...but THEY were the problem not her...(I see a pattern). Then for another 25% she talks about how there weren't enough vegetarian meals for her so she loss weight (oh no!),30% focused on how bad the men in the military treated her (some of this was actually funny), the remaining 15% justified her wrong actions while belittling others and patting herself on the back for going to Iraq with a sore foot. Oh and the book is written to be overly dramatic with the occassional cuss word to make her seem tough. BOOOORRRINNNG!