When the going got tough during World War II, America’s women got going. By the millions, housewives and mothers took off their aprons and stepped into factories, offices, hospitals—anywhere capable hands were needed to replace those of the husbands and sons now battling overseas.

The eleven fictional stories in this remarkable collection are based on real women whose experiences were at once typical and extraordinary. Irene bucks rivets in an aircraft factory while Doris learns to pilot military planes. Marjorie survives the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while Jean spends three years under guard in a Japanese internment camp. Lucy joins the segregated Women’s Army Corp and Kathryn joins the Red Cross—shipping off to the front lines where she dances in combat boots with American GIs.

From the topsy-turvy days following Pearl Harbor, through four long years of hardship, to the post-war campaigns to put women back in their place, these stories reveal the many facets of women’s lives as they gave their all for the war effort.




2007 Colorado Book Award Finalist

2007 EVVY Award Winner for Fiction

This award-winning collection celebrates real women whose wartime experiences were at once typical and extraordinary. Read about WACS, Women Pilots, Doughnut Dollies and more.

Author's Note
Dancing in Combat Boots was a labor of love! Eight years in the making, it grew out of the research I did for my first novel, Remember Wake. While I was researching that story, I found gaps in the information available about everyday life for American women during WWII. Oh, there were plenty of details about the technicalities of their lives, like dealing with rationing or raising Victory Gardens, but I couldn't get a good sense of how they felt about the roles they played, nor could I guess whether or not they knew how pivotal their experiences would become. So I set out to track down women whose experiences were at once typical and extraordinary. I then took the best parts of their stories and wove them into the lives of my fictional characters. Each story in Dancing in Combat Boots is based on an actual woman, and to the best of my ability, I've stuck to the memories they shared. More than anything else, I hope this book honors and celebrates our mothers and grandmothers, the women of World War II.