Sisters in Arms review


Helena Page Schrader
ISBN: 1844152886 - £19.99 (hb)
Pen & Sword - 298 pages - illustrated

This story of British and American women pilots of the war easily made it to the top of the pile as my Editor's Choice for this issue.   During the war, a few carefully selected women in Great Britain and the United States were given the opportunity to fly military aircraft.   These women were pioneers, but, despite similarities in their use and organisation, the women from the two different countries experienced radically different fates.   Female pilots joined auxiliary organisations like the ATA here, and the WASP in the States.   However, whilst the ATA steadily earned many of the privileges and status of their male counterparts - even to the point of being awarded equal pay for equal work in 1943 - their American colleagues were expressly denied the same status, rank, privileges, pay and benefits as their male counterparts.   Throughout the war the contribution of the ATA to the war effort was recognised and praised from both officials and the media.   In contrast, the WASP were at first glamorised and turned into Hollywood style stars, and then subjected to a slander campaign.   Women from both ATA and WASP speak for themselves and have an exciting and interesting tale to tell.   It is obvious from the narrative style that the author is and academic historian; however, her use of the personal accounts of those involved lift this book from the dry academic tome it might have been, to a very interesting and absorbing story of achievement.

First class. 10/10, MM

Reprinted from: The Second World War, a magazine in the UK, Aug. 2006.