Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Under the Sabers

Under the Sabers

The Unwritten Code of Army Wives

Tanya Biank

St. Martin's Press




Under the Sabers is a groundbreaking narrative detailing the complex personal challenges Army wives face, presenting a provocative new look at Army life. Tanya Biank goes beyond the sound bites and photo ops of military life and shows what it is really like to be an Army wife—from hauling furniture off the rental truck by yourself at a new duty station when your husband is in the field, to comforting your son who wants his dad home from Afghanistan for his fifth birthday—she takes readers into the hearts and homes of today's military wives.

In the summer of 2002, Army wives were in the headlines after Biank, a military reporter for the Fayetteville Observer, made international news when she broke the story about four Army wives who were brutally murdered by their husbands in the span of six weeks at Fort Bragg, an Army post that is home to the Green Berets, Airborne paratroopers, and Delta Force commandos. By that autumn, Biank, an Army brat herself, realized the still untold story of Army wives lay in the ashes of that tragic and sensationalized summer. She knew the truth—wives were the backbone of the Army. They were strong—not helpless—and deserved more than the sugarcoating that often accompanied their stories in the media.

Under the Sabers tells the story of four typical Army wives, who, in a flash, find themselves neck-deep in extraordinary circumstances that ultimately force them to redefine who they are as women and Army wives. In this fascinating and meticulously researched account, Biank takes the reader past the Army's gates, where everyone has a role to play, rules are followed, discipline is expected, perfection praised, and perception often overrides reality. Biank explores what happens when real life collides with Army convention.

Biank describes what it means to be a wife and mother in a subculture that is in a constant state of readiness for war. In this hard-hitting and powerful book, Biank takes a close look at the other woman—the Army itself—and its impact on wives, marriages, and home life. This story of strength and perseverance is an eye-opener for those who have never experienced military life and an anthem to those women who each day live the "unwritten code."


Chapter One

Christmas 2000 had been a slower news cycle---but not so slow that I didn't have to cover the cop beat well after eleven on a Sunday evening the week before the holiday. As I parked my car and ran into an adjacent parking...


Praise for Under the Sabers

“From tragic to bittersweet, this is the untold story of the wives of our Army warriors--a powerful look for civilians and soldiers alike into the lives of women who each day embrace Duty, Honor, Sacrifice.” —W.E.B. Griffin

“I was raised with the book THE ARMY WIFE by Nancy Shea, which gave us pointers on how to be a good one. Tanya Biank is certainly not a Nancy Shea author. She is not telling us what to do, but telling us how it is--or was--at Fort Bragg. Her experience as a reporter has produced a candid and detailed study of her subjects and a riveting story, certain to engage Army wives of all generations. The incidents described and the issues surfaced in Ms. Biank's hard-hitting piece surely will get her readers' attentions and will cause us to say to each other, ‘Now, what can we do about it?'” —Joanne Patton, the wife of Major General George S. Patton and the daughter-in-law of General George S. Patton, Jr.

“Tanya Biank has written a stunningly detailed, eye-opening account of what it is really like to be an Army wife. Under the Sabers demonstrates that while it is tough to be a soldier, it can be even tougher to be the wife of a soldier. This is a side of Army life that, until now, has escaped public scrutiny. Under the Sabers should be required reading for every military spouse and all those who are considering marrying into the military.” —Ron Martz , Military affairs correspondent, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and co-author of Heavy Metal: A Tank Company's Battle to Baghdad

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Tanya Biank

Tanya Biank is a Fulbright Scholar, an award-winning journalist, and a former reporter for the Fayetteville Observer. Her coverage of the Fort Bragg Army wife murders in 2002 led to Congressional inquiries and changes in Army policy. The daughter of a career Army officer, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, an Army officer assigned to the Pentagon.

Tanya Biank

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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