Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chosen Commander in Chief by Judith M. Galloway - A Timely book to read!

Inauguration Day

Mr. President, Mr. Chief Justice, fellow Americans,
I stand before you today with humility and pride - humility in the wake of those who have gone before me and pride in being an American.

Since its founding our country has been engulfed in turmoil and uncertainty. As your president it
is my preeminent duty to nurture the spirit of the country. This is a role which comes naturally to women. Throughout history women have been seen as "keepers of the flame." In Ancient Greece the goddess Hestia was the keeper of the sacred fire of hearth and home. She was the most influential and widely revered of the Greek goddesses. The living flame of Hestia was tended constantly and never allowed to die out.

What has become of the American spirit; is it still burning? Or have the values of our founders vanished in the wilderness of our forefathers? Has the flame of the American spirit somehow been melded to the myriad networks of the inner working of a computer? What has happened to the old truths of the heart? Does anyone even ask anymore: what is truth?
Truth is not relative, it is absolute. Truth is eternal and immutable like the figure of a woman on a Grecian urn--forever pure, forever beautiful, and forever loved. As Nobel Prize winner, William Faulkner said, "Truth covers all things that toch the heart: love and honor, pity and pride, courage and sacrifice."

Our tragedy today is not that we face the loss of material things but that we face the loss of our spirit. Let this be a new beginning for our nation. Let us rekindle the eternal truths of the heart...

Chosen Commander in Chief

By Judith M. Galloway

Will Americans ever select a woman as Commander in Chief? I like to think so, but will be pleasantly surprised if it happens in my lifetime... Galloway, however, presents a novel that moves along so easily and smoothly that readers might indeed think it is possible...but, of course, it's fiction...

Or is it? The main thrust of her story is to reveal one major issue--there are women in the United States that are qualified to become President. If I may be so bold to say that it is quite plausible that the author, herself, could be that qualified woman... or, more specifically, the female main character of her novel...LOL... Especially if you believe that the military experience provides the proper background. I admit that I'm not convinced of that, but that is just my own personal opinion, of course, and doesn't play a part in my review of the book.

I want to early on point out that the tone of this book is not the normal novel readers find. To me, it read more as a documentary or perhaps even an autobiography albeit starting in the adult years of the individual. The author notes that many of the "events are drawn from the author's personal experiences while serving as an officer in the United States Air Force."

The story begins in 1975 and includes some references to actual events during the time period covered. These are all footnoted and provided with full reference material at the end.

One issue with the book, therefore, is that it lacks much drama as normally expected in fiction. Specifically, it is merely the life story of a married couple--both serving in the military and/or in the government and spending much time apart due to that service--and the decisions they face, such as putting off having children, mainly due to their career choices. Issues such as sexual harassment or empowerment for women was a key responsibility for Ryland, in which she succeeded, although there were no real surprises or detailed incidents of any of these important issues. On the other hand, would this type of couple, who have successfully dedicated their lives to military service to the country be ideal for moving into the White House? Personally, I'm not quite sure, but reading the novel could sway readers in that direction.

The main character has moved through the military to the rank of Brigadier General. Her husband, in the meantime, has left military service, studies to become a lawyer, and then is elected as a Senator. He is killed in an accident, which allows the opportunity for Rachel Ryland to be named to fulfill her husband's term of office. 

Theoretically, it is through this move that Rachel Ryland enters politics, and is later seen and nominated for the Republican Party. Frankly, I wasn't convinced until the epilogue when I read the inauguration speech. To me it was the first real emotional disclosure of the values and opinions of the character Rachel Ryland. 

Do we elect presidents based upon professional background and expertise? If so, is a military service background and some late-day political experience the proper mix for the leader in chief of our country? The book's back cover includes several questions, different from the ones I've just included. To me that says, that the book is sufficiently provocative to really cause readers to evaluate what it takes to become president. On the other hand, it is my opinion that the book did not adequately respond to the questions posed on that back cover, except in establishing professional credentials of the individual.

I would like to have seen more of the interpersonal challenges faced by the main character doing her various positions and seen her actually get into difficult situations that were not controlled by an immediate superior as the hierarchy of the military mandates--or at least be able to evaluate how the character handled herself and her personal emotions in light of such challenges. The President has to deal with a Congress that does not see the presidency as being their supreme boss. We all know this. Any woman selected will have to "play the game of politics" and have the savvy and perseverance and personal strength to handle such direct confrontations. There was insufficient evidence in this novel for me to see that the character would be successful. I was disappointed. if there had been more effort to develop the characters, the issues, and actual relevant experiences, this could have been a very powerful novel--with another 100 pages or so...

For those individuals who are looking forward to a female president and are actively working in that direction, the novel is an excellent way to brainstorm exactly what is needed to get that woman into the public eye and what it takes to "curry favor" and support from our citizens.


JUDITH GALLOWAY is a retired Air Force officer. Prior to her retirement from active duty she served as education and training officer at various levels of command including a special assignment to the United States Air Force Academy. Medically retired in 1981, she continued her military service as a civilian management analyst and contract administrator for the United States Navy.

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