Switchboard Soldiers

By Jennifer Chiaverini
Adult Fiction

This is another great, well-crafted, and well-researched offering by Jennifer Chiaverini. I became acquainted with this author through her quilting stories, and although I couldn’t quilt to save my life, I became enthralled by those tales. And then, I discovered her history-based stories such as Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule and Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters. Being a bit of a history buff myself, I thoroughly enjoyed these.

Switchboard Soldiers measures up to its predecessors. It tells the story of some amazing women who were indispensable to the winning of WWI. Among the first women sworn into the US Army, they were fluent in both French and English; they worked to rapidly switch phone calls, ensuring communication between different fronts. They sat at a switchboard for many hours a day and under intense, stressful conditions.

Unfortunately, they were dealt a totally raw and unjust deal by the American government when they were denied veterans’ benefits after the war, which was so unfair and disturbing. One of the switchboard soldiers, Grace Banker, had even received the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal. This wrong was not righted till 60 years later by then-President Jimmy Carter.

I love to read the stories of ordinary women who ended up doing extraordinary feats.

Reviewed by Nathalie S (Circulation)