For women caught in war zones, there are choices to be made. Try to get by as best you can, protecting your family if you have one, or throw in with the men defending your country, risking your own life. The 15 women whose stories are told in Women Heroes of World War II, the Pacific Theater all made difficult choices. Even so, as much as they were able, they resisted the invaders who overran their countries.
Pamela J. Toler’s Heroines of Mercy Street is the true history behind the popular PBS series set in occupied Alexandria, Virginia, during the Civil War. Caveat here: I did read the book before watching a single episode. I found Toler’s narrative to be engaging and an excellent window to the time. With wildly varying levels of training (many, such as Louisa May Alcott, had only nursed family patients while another trained with celebrated British nurse Florence Nightingale), they all had a sense of duty and enthusiasm for the job that did not wane as the war ground on—though it did exhaust them and occasionally kill them.