3 out of 4 stars
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A Higher Standard by General Ann Dunwoody chronicles the author's rise through the ranks of the United States Army to become the first female four-star general, an extremely prestigious position that requires consent from the President and Congress. The memoir isn't strictly chronological; it's organized by certain themes throughout the author's life, such as her relationship with each of her husbands or her experiences as a rigger and paratrooper. This organization is carried out quite well, and it lends a bit of life to a style of writing that can easily become merely a laundry list of events in the author's life.
What struck me most about this memoir is how humble General Dunwoody is about her achievements. She never set out to be the first female anything, she just wanted to achieve to the best of her ability in a career that she loved and meet the "higher standard" demanded by Army life. Looking back through all of the influences that shaped her and all of the challenges she overcame was heartwarming, and the novel's tone was quite gracious and down-to-earth. I got the impression that General Dunwoody was someone I would very much enjoy meeting in real life.
I also found it very intriguing how the realities of a military career were conveyed. From the everyday trials such as waking up and running before dawn to the large-scale aspects like the drastic shift of 9-11 or supply transport, this novel brings up many things I hadn't even considered and discusses them in interesting ways. Of course, this is all compounded with General Dunwoody's trials as a woman in the army, and she discusses the shortcomings and burgeoning changes about the army's view of gender with grace.
Unfortunately, there is one significant flaw with this book: the editing. There are some typos that would've been smoothed out with sufficient editing such as mixing up homonyms and missing spaces, and they always broke my immersion to some extent when they happened. I received an editor's copy, and, presumably, some of these issues were worked out prior to publication, but they were still quite distracting and they prevent me from giving the book the perfect score it otherwise deserves.
Because of these errors, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. It's a fascinating look at the struggles women face in the army and one woman who overcame them spectacularly. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy memoirs as a whole, and especially those with an interest in the daily life of members of the US Army and all the sacrifices that they make.
A Higher Standard
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