4 out of 4 stars
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Shirley Condit Starkey narrates her life in a heartwarming memoir that chronicles her experience as a military wife. The book, I Married a Soldier, opens with the Starkeys relocating to Iran in 1962 and follows their lives as they make a home in various locations.
Although she was conservative, the author was always open-minded. At the height of segregation in the United States, she was willing to go into a negro family's home to teach. That spirit enabled her to adjust to different environments and support her husband during trying times. She quickly learned the customs of Iran and attempted to communicate in Farsi, the local language. Since the author was pregnant when she moved to Iran, I feared that the pregnancy would present significant challenges, but I was relieved that she safely delivered her second child. A few years later, Jim Starkey, the author's husband, received orders to relocate to the United States to further his studies. The author was relieved to reunite with her family and was eager to introduce Pat, her second child, to them. Later, Jim was deployed to Vietnam, returned to Iran, and eventually Germany.
What I liked most about the book is that it focuses on the author's family life and doesn't include the perils of war. Her children were happy, and relocating didn't seem to affect them. One factor that enabled this is that the author was a fulltime homemaker. She cared for her four children, and the older ones looked forward to a new addition to the family. Her youngest child had all the attention, and his siblings couldn't wait for him to grow up. There are bouts of humor sprinkled throughout the book, accompanied by memorable moments. These enriched the reading experience and left me yearning for more. The author's time in Iran provided insight into the country's history and culture. She explored the landscape and visited historical sights, which added to her wealth of knowledge.
I was intrigued by the protocol within the military and marveled at how junior officers minded their manners when off-duty. The book also provides an insight into diplomatic affairs. Those who want to learn how governments interact with citizens in foreign countries will find many useful points. The author experienced the inconvenience of state-sanctioned censorship since the Iranian government monitored all broadcast media. I contrasted that to modern times where cellphones are readily available, and information travels in a flash. The author also highlighted the downside of her status as a military wife. In the US, she often had to conceal the fact that her husband was on tour in Vietnam since she feared backlash from people who were against the war.
Overall, this is a compelling read that will appeal to lovers of non-fiction and anyone who wants to learn about Iran. Since the author focuses mostly on her time as a military wife, the suspenseful ending left me yearning for more. I will award this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because it is intriguing and well executed. The text is well edited, and the few errors I spotted don't detract from the reading experience.
I Married A Soldier
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