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When Sharon Hanley Disher entered the U.S. Naval Academy with eighty other young women in 1976, she helped end a 131-year all-male tradition in Annapolis. Her entertaining and shocking account of the women's four-year effort to join the academy's elite fraternity and become commissioned naval officers is a valuable chronicle of the times, and her insights have been credited with helping us understand the challenges of integrating women into the military services. From the punishing crucible of plebe summer to the triumph of graduation, she describes their search for ways to survive the mental and physical hurdles they had to overcome. Unflinchingly frank, she freely discusses the prejudice and abuse they encountered that often went unpunished or unreported.
A loyal Navy supporter, nevertheless, Disher provides a balanced account of life behind the academy's storied walls for that first group of teenaged women who chartered the way for future female midshipmen. Lively, well-researched, and amazingly good-humored, the book seems as fresh today as it was when first published in hardcover in 1998.
Sharon Hanley Disher served in the Navy Civil Engineering Corps for ten years after her 1980 graduation from the Naval Academy, including service as the officer in charge of a construction battalion unit in New London, Connecticut, the second woman in the Navy to hold such a position.
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