Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer’s Combat Experience in Iraq

Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer’s Combat Experience in Iraq, by Jane Blair ($16.47)


“A bird’s-eye view of military operations and a window into the life and mindset of a soldier. Blair gives civilians, if not the actual experience of war, then an understanding of it. ” –Booklist

“An extraordinary example of the passionate modern day Marine leader and female warrior.  Not only can she write like a seasoned and inspiring author, she could whip GI Jane’s butt!”

–Dalton Fury – Bestselling author of “Kill Bin Laden”

“Jane Blair gives us a fascinating account of her experience as a Marine in Iraq.  Hesitation Kills is a gripping read!” –Nina Godiwalla, author of “Suits: A Woman on Wall Street”

“One marine’s on-the-ground account of her pride in being part of a military history…Blair writes with honesty as she describes feeling fear during her first experiences in battle.” –Publisher’s Weekly

In this military memoir, Marine lieutenant Blair, who served in an aerial reconnaissance unit during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003), ably depicts the chaotic and often disillusioning experiences of modern warfare. Laced with observations on the challenges facing women in the Marines, Blair’s account provides a compelling behind-the-scenes description of how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, were used to gather crucial intelligence during the first weeks of the invasion of Iraq. Tracing the emotional roller coaster of her own challenges during the conflict, Blair’s narrative is especially effective at depicting how the intensity and deprivations of war permanently changed her and her fellow marines. VERDICT Blair’s….eloquence in examining the grim emotional costs of military service makes this a timely, moving, and eye-opening work. Best suited to readers interested in women in the military, UAVs, the Marine Corp, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Library Journal )

My son and Jane were in boot camp together. Our shared ‘Marine family’ history means that I truly understand the remarkable insight found in this wonderfully engrossing book. Jane brings a clear eye to her subject and offers a unique and deep insight into both war and the role of women in the American war machine that rings true. (Frank Schaeffer )

Fresh out of officer’s training, Blair, a second lieutenant with the U.S. Marines, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her aerial reconnaissance unit was often on the leading edge of battle, making her one of the few women in the combat zone. In recounting the run-up to the invasion and the first chaotic weeks of the war, Blair offers a bird’s-eye view of military operations and a window into the life and mindset of a soldier. Describing chemical warfare drills, near-ambushes, and what it’s like to order an air strike, Blair gives civilians, if not the actual experience of war, then an understanding of it. A thoughtful guide, she admits to her struggles with boredom, loneliness, and fear not just for her own life but for that of her husband, a fellow marine. Though support for and interest in the war has long since waned, Blair, forever changed by her time in Iraq, reminds readers of the sacrifices soldiers make on our behalf. (Booklist )

Jane Blair is an extraordinary example of the passionate modern-day Marine leader and female warrior. The pipe hitters I rolled with typically roped and breached in unisex fashion, but Hesitation Kills makes me wonder if we might have been underequipped. Not only can “Boots” Blair write like a seasoned and inspiring author, she could whip GI Jane’s butt! (Dalton Fury )

Beginning in 2003 with her squadron landing in Kuwait, Marine Major Blair (then a lieutenant) reflects positively on her experience in Iraq. Her unit provided backup for army troops, and she was in charge of deploying unmanned planes to bomb suspected enemy emplacements without hesitation. As a new officer she had to face fellow officers who tried to push her to the sidelines, but with the support of her superiors these conflicts faded into the background. ‘Marines made war an art form’ she writes, describing an incident of friendly fire, ‘…I knew no matter how much the plan was screwed up … the infantryman’s decisive actions would win this war.’ Blair writes with honesty as she describes feeling fear during her first experiences in battle, but the greater challenge for her turned out to be the hardship of poor quality MREs (military ‘meals ready to eat’), months without access to showers, and sheer boredom…. This is one marine’s on-the-ground account of her pride in being part of a military history. Likely of greatest interest for someone–male or female–contemplating a career in the military. (Publishers Weekly )

In her new memoir, Hesitation Kills, [Blair] tells of her transformation from a sheltered, privileged daughter of a Manhattan lawyer and an artist who were members of Andy Warhol’s social circle to a steel-nerved combat veteran. (New York Post)

Product Description This riveting memoir is the first book written by a female Marine about the war in Iraq and one of the only books written by a woman who has experienced combat firsthand. Deploying to Iraq in 2003, Jane Blair’s aerial reconnaissance unit was assigned to travel ahead of and alongside combat units throughout the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Throughout her deployment, Jane kept a journal of her and her fellow lieutenants’ combat experiences, which she draws on to convey the immediacy of life in the military, not just for a woman but for all Marines.
Jane’s stories highlight the drama and chaos of wartime Iraq along with the day-to-day challenges every Marine faced: from spicing up a “pasta with alfredo sauce” military ration to trying to stay clean after weeks without a shower. She also copes with a bullying superior officer while trying to connect with local civilians who have long been viewed as “the enemy.” She recounts the struggles specific to women, including learning how to be respected as a Marine rather than dismissed as “the weaker sex” and learns strategies from other officers in her unit how to effectively battle the prejudices of male Marines who don’t believe women belong in uniform. And always, she fights the personal loneliness of being separated from her husband, balanced with the challenge and joy of stealing a private moment with him when, by chance, his unit is nearby.
Jane describes not only her experiences as a young lieutenant and as a woman but also those of her fellow Marines, whom she lauds as the true heroes of her story. Ultimately, she learns from her commanding officer, and her fellows in arms, what it truly means to be a leader, both in the military and in life. Weaving her story together with the experiences of the ordinary people of Iraq, this book offers compelling insights into the profound impact of the war on the lives of service members and civilians alike.  Jane also weaves in the narrative her impressions of the Iraqis and draws the reader in to her changed perceptions and growing understanding of Muslims and Iraqis as a whole. Her unforgettable narrative bridges the gap between those who have experienced the Iraq War firsthand and those in America who could only follow its life-altering events from a distance.

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