Helen Benedict: Why I Wrote a War Novel

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolinsky

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolinsky


Words After War, in partnership with the New York Public Library, presents “Danger Close: Writing War in the Workshop.” At 6:30 PM on Thursday, November 21, novelist and journalist Helen Benedict will moderate a panel to include Matt Gallagher, Phil Klay, Maurice Decaul and Mariette Kalinowski. Tickets and further information can be found HERE.

We are excited to share an essay written by Helen that first appeared in On The Issues Magazine. Read an excerpt below and follow the link to read the piece in its entirety.

In 2006, when I discovered that more women were serving and fighting in the Iraq War than in all past American wars put together, I wanted to know why: why they had joined, why they went to war, and what was it like to be a woman in combat.

To find out, I traveled the United States for roughly three years interviewing women veterans. Some I spoke to for an hour or two by phone, others I talked with for many months, visiting their homes, touring their towns, seeing their high schools, and meeting their families. In the end, I interviewed some 40 women from the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force, most of whom had served in Iraq, although a few had served in Afghanistan, Korea, or Vietnam.

These women opened their hearts to me in ways I found extraordinarily courageous and moving. Some were proud of their service, others loved the military but opposed the war, and yet others had turned against both the military and the war – but they all wanted to be heard. I wrote my nonfiction book, The Lonely Soldier, based on those interviews, and a nonfiction play of the same name.

Yet, I knew there was more to say.

Read the rest HERE. Hope to see everyone tomorrow evening.


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