Karyn L. Barr
April 30, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

At first glance, Yellin’s comprehensive peek at WWII women appears to be yet another stodgy narrative about the well-documented wonders of Rosie the Riveter and Eleanor Roosevelt. Thankfully, the journalist shrewdly digs into private diaries and letters to unearth lesser-known tales of the famous and not-so-famous. Did you know Lena Horne paid her own way to tour military camps after the USO refused to let black soldiers attend the typically all-white shows? Or that Amy Thorpe Pack, an American who spied for the U.K., successfully stole Vichy naval codes from France’s embassy in Washington that later helped the Allies conquer North Africa? Educational and dishy, War is a graceful portrait of the other half of the greatest generation.

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