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Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Switchboard Soldiers

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. At the time, nearly all well-trained American telephone operators were women --- but women were not permitted to enlist, or even to vote in most states. Nevertheless, the U.S. Army Signal Corps promptly began recruiting them. More than 7,600 women responded; they served with honor and played an essential role in achieving the Allied victory. Their story has never been the focus of a novel…until now.