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The Officers' Wives [Hardcover]

Thomas J. Fleming


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong, mainly accurate, historical novel Feb. 21 2011
By JACOB MILLER - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
`Ridiculous', the review by Chief Keokuk "Bookman" submitted on June 13, 2010, prompted me to submit this alternative view from a former Regular Army officer who served during the latter part of the period dealt with in The Officers' Wives.
Very briefly, the novel traces the lives, careers, and marriages of three professional (RA--Regular Army, as opposed to active Reserve or wartime AUS Army of the United States) officers from their commissioning just before the start of the Korean War through that war, the peacetime Army that followed, and on into their service as field grade officers during the Vietnam War. As the title indicates, it does so from the perspective of the wives, though the focus is really equally on both members of the three couples.

While not great literature, it is a good read, generally accurate historically, and deals well with a couple of serious themes--the high stresses that military careers periodically placed (as they still do) on traditional marriages and the tensions between the high ideals of the military profession and the grubbier realities of careerism and human nature. I thought sufficiently highly of the novel that, shortly after reading it after its publication in 1981, I recommended it to a young female acquaintance who had become engaged to a lieutenant. Along with better known military combat and training milieus of the Korean War, interwar, and Vietnam Wars, it provides a glimpse of what it was like to be ROTC teaching cadre at a university during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as of the pressure cooker of working in the Pentagon as a (lowly) field grade staff officer.

Navy vet Fleming never served in the Army, but (according to his Wikipedia biography) he lived at West Point between 1964 and 1969 while researching the history of the Military Academy which was published under his name in the latter year, and at that time interviewed numerous Army officers serving during the period covered by The Officers' Wives. Was this the equivalent of actually serving as an Army officer during the period the novel covers? No, and it didn't give him 100% protection from historical errors. The one that sticks in my mind is his having a lieutenant colonel heading a college ROTC detachment during the Vietnam War, when, to my knowledge, that position was uniformly held by full colonel. While a regrettable error, I think I can attest from personal experience that Fleming basically got the Vietnam War ROTC detachment story right. I suspect that I may have noted a couple more minor errors, now forgotten, when I read the novel thirty years ago. But nothing like the "numerous errors of military life and protocol" and "obvious lack of knowledge of the US Army" which Chief Keokuk "Bookman" found. Is my take on the basic accuracy and worth of the book right and Chief Keokuk's wrong? Not necessarily. Following four years in ROTC at Cornell, I received a RA commission in Infantry and served from 1969 through 1973, including close to a year in Vietnam (--and all that as a bachelor, if one who socialized with married couples). I was a captain when I resigned my commission; my experience of field grade officers has been from direct observation, but I've never been one. All I think I know about Army life from the Korean War through the first half of the 1960s is book learning or from the war stories of others. If Chief Keokuk had an Army career corresponding more closely to that of the male protagonists of The Officers' Wives--that is, if he was commissioned significantly earlier and (or) served significantly longer, then I'm ready to hear with interest some of those "numerous errors"--and be prepared to humbly revise downward my evaluation of the book. Until then, I'd recommend The Officers' Wives pretty strongly.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great BOMC Main Selection From 1981 March 15 2009
By H. Barbosa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This novel has been part of my life for the last 29 years! I have read it at least 5 times, and always grabs me, unlike other, more popular books. Once you get acquainted with Amy, Joanna and Honor, they will become, your favorite characters, and you might go back to them, as I did! read it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Novel June 5 2014
By MFPell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
My husband retired from the Air Force in the 1990s and while the role of the military spouse (they aren't just wives anymore as quite a few men are married to active duty military women) has changed from that of the 50s, 60s and even 70s, I still found it thoroughly enjoyable and the characters mostly believable. A small flaw in one story line was the somewhat annoying overuse of the code names, "Miles and Priscilla" by the two characters, Amy and Adam but the rest of the book is so good, that small imperfection can be overlooked. I would love to read it again and I was wondering if it will ever be available for Kindle.
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE PICTURE OF ARMY LIFE, OFFICER-STYLE April 5 2014
By Mary Raynor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I avidly read every word in this exciting, informative, interesting book. The larger than life characters seem so real. I was a military wife for many years, and although I was an enlisted wife, and this book is about officers' wives, I can vouch for its authenticity. The book is astonishing in its depiction of raw ambition in some of the military officers in the book who were on their way to getting their generals' stars, contrasted with the idealism and willingness to sacrifice of some of the others. It is also heart-breaking in its look at four star-crossed couples. This book is a keeper and I am sure to read it again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great. Needs to be on Kindle! Dec 8 2013
By zoomlens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wonderful T Fleming novel. Please add to Kindle - so many others of his already there, why not this one, too?

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