In June 1917, General John Pershing arrived in France to establish American forces in Europe. He immediately found himself unable to communicate with troops in the field. Pershing needed operators who could swiftly and accurately connect multiple calls, speak fluent French and English, remain steady under fire, and be utterly discreet, since the calls often conveyed classified information — and at the time, nearly all well-trained American telephone operators were women.
More than 7,600 women responded to the call to join the U.S. Army Signal Corps, including Grace Banker of New Jersey, a switchboard instructor with AT&T and an alumna of Barnard College; Marie Miossec, a Frenchwoman and aspiring opera singer; and Valerie DeSmedt, a twenty-year-old Pacific Telephone operator from Los Angeles, determined to strike a blow for her native Belgium. They were among the first women sworn into the U.S. Army under the Articles of War.
The risk of death was real — the women worked as bombs fell around them — as was the threat of a deadly new disease: the Spanish Flu. Not all of the telephone operators would survive. From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini comes a bold, revelatory novel about one of the great untold stories of World War I: the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, who broke down gender barriers in the military, smashed the workplace glass ceiling, and battled a pandemic as they helped lead the Allies to victory.