Elizabeth Cobbs has written a history long overdue. While that, in itself, would be a fantastic contribution to anyone's U.S. History book shelf she gives us a bonus of tying the history of America's first women soldiers to that of a second great struggle that stretched across the globe from California to the furthest reaches of Siberia for the 70 years prior and for really the next hundred years as well.
At its core this book is the story of the 223 American women who served in the Signal Corps in the First World War at the express request of General John Pershing because they could do what the men could not - operate the complicated switchboards of the telephone systems of the day better than the men. Cobbs explains why this was so as well as carefully detailing the horrors of war that the operators, as they were called, had to endure, including bombing and shelling, co-located with their male counterparts.
But she also tells the story of how their service furthered greatly the cause of suffrage for women in the United States. She also details how many men saw them as a threat and did everything in their power to diminish their service, including denying them veterans benefits upon their return. Finally, she also details the men who saw them as co-equal and eventually helped the few survivors see justice within their lifetimes - recognition of service, military honors, and their place in history.
The only negative I would mention is that Cobbs ends up being a little repetitive and could come off, a few times, as pedantic. However, the book is well-written, well-edited, and well-researched.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)