The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about.

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line looks at the lives of young women in World War II – the culture they lived in, the choices they faced, the challenges they overcame and ultimately their impact on young women today.  Their obstacles varied greatly, and options were typically limited.  Some had mentors, teams to fall back on and friends and lovers. Others had to shoulder their burdens alone.  They all offer lessons for us, in how we plan, what we face, and how we make our peace with the way ahead.

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About the Book

Winner of the 2022 Virginia Library People’s Choice Nonfiction Award!

For fans of Radium Girls and history and WWII buffs, The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line takes you inside the lives and experiences of 15 unknown women heroes from the Greatest Generation, the women who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen during WWII―in and out of uniform, for theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about. These women who did extraordinary things didn’t expect thanks and shied away from medals and recognition. Despite their amazing accomplishments, they’ve gone mostly unheralded and unrewarded. No longer. These are the women of World War II who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen―in and out of uniform.

Young Hilda Eisen was captured twice by the Nazis and twice escaped, going on to fight with the Resistance in Poland. Determined to survive, she and her husband later emigrated to the U.S. where they became entrepreneurs and successful business leaders. Ola Mildred Rexroat was the only Native American woman pilot to serve with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II.  She persisted against all odds – to earn her silver wings and fly, helping train other pilots and gunners. Ida and Louise Cook were British sisters and opera buffs who smuggled Jews out of Germany, often wearing their jewelry and furs, to help with their finances. They served as sponsors for refugees, and established temporary housing for immigrant families in London.  Alice Marble was a grand-slam winning tennis star who found her own path to serve during the war – she was an editor with Wonder Woman comics, played tennis exhibitions for the troops, and  undertook a dangerous undercover mission to expose Nazi theft.  After the war she was instrumental in desegregating women’s professional tennis.  Others also stepped out of line –  as cartographers, spies, combat nurses, and troop commanders.

Retired U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder wrote this book because she knew their stories needed to be told―and the sooner the better. For theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.

Tag: Stories with Purpose
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Year: 2021
ASIN: 1728230926
ISBN: 9781728230924
This impressive work can serve as an inspiration to other strong-minded women ready to take their rightful places in the history books of the future.
Straightforward, eye-opening, and invaluable collection... this group biography offers a breezy tone, historic photographs, and plenty of lively anecdotes to bring its subjects to vivid life.
– Booklist
Editors' Pick for Best Books of the Month in History
Eder’s engaging writing makes these compelling histories read like a suspense novel. A highly recommended account that will draw in readers of U.S. history and women’s history.
"A chronicle of a group of courageous women whose contributions to World War II 'put comic book heroines to shame.'"
“This brisk and informative survey is a worthy tribute to the trailblazing women of WWII.”
Chosen as one of "10 Books to Read in August 2021"
Featured in the 2021 Spring/Summer edition of Buzz Books!
"My appreciation for the veterans in my own family who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, coupled with the tragedy of 9/11 and the sacrifices made since, led me to absolutely consider myself a 'grateful American'—for the blessings of freedom provided by those who wear the cloth of our nation. Major General (Ret.) Mari K. Eder has without a doubt elevated my sense of gratitude even higher. The stories of extraordinary courage, service, and sacrifice by the women she highlights in this book, and all others who served similarly yet have not had their stories told, should inspire all who read this to be grateful Americans as well!"
"We don't think of the women of WWII as young girls determined to make a difference. But these women, and thousands like them, did. They networked, connected, and supported one another. When the war ended, that network collapsed, a victim of culture and society's focus on a 'return to normal.' We can't forget what they sacrificed and what they've given to us, and this book helps us do just that."
"This book fills a historic void about Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams and others who stepped out of line to succeed, because the "lines" did not support race, gender, or mission. Their moral courage and leadership knocked down many barriers within the military and beyond."
– Colonel (Ret.) Edna W. Cummings, U.S. Army Six Triple Eight Advocate/Producer
"A tennis star who became a spy, a Polish immigrant who went to work for the OSS, a Jewish refugee who fought the Nazis as a partisan: these are some of the remarkable women whose incredible stories come to life in this engaging and important book. Mari Eder helps us to complete our history of the Second World War through voices that had been forgotten until now. A must-read for all who want to know more about women's history, the Second World War, and America in the twentieth century."
"A fascinating page-turner about a mostly forgotten contingent of people—women who willingly stepped 'out of line' to contribute to the Allied victory in WWII. It is a fresh set of gripping stories, from world tennis champ Alice Marble to far less well known heroines. Each story is moving and deeply inspirational."
– Admiral James Stavridis, USN Supreme Allied Commander at NATO (Ret.)
"The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line is a must-read. Each chapter highlights a different woman who stepped out of line and did what was right—not what was easy or expected. These warriors defied the odds in their fight against bigotry, hatred, and prejudice of all kinds. Many of them helped save the lives of others or helped pave the path for a brighter and equal future for other women. Thankfully, we have someone such as Mari K. Eder, a woman and veteran who also led a selfless life, to bring these stories to life and to preserve the legacies of these heroic women. And while Eder may not be looking for accolades or recognition for this beautifully written tribute, we all owe her a debt of gratitude. I know I will be purchasing a copy of this book for each female warrior and hero in my life."
"Military women, intelligences agents, and partisan fighters who served in World War II remained much too modest about their accomplishments, and we are indebted to Major General Mari K. Eder (U.S. Army retired) for bringing to light their remarkable stories of dedication and heroism. An engaging and fast-paced work, this book will interest anyone who wants to fully understand why the Allies won the war. The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line offers accounts of remarkable role models that will inspire future generations of women and men who embark on a career in military service. Highly recommended."
– G. Kurt Piehler, PhD, Director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience
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About the Author
Mari K Eder, US Army, Major General (Ret.)

Mari K. Eder, retired U.S. Army Major General, is a renowned speaker and author, and a thought leader on strategic communication and leadership. General Eder has served as Director of Public Affairs at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and as an adjunct professor and lecturer in communications and public diplomacy at the NATO School and Sweden’s International Training Command. She served in a number of senior positions in the Pentatgon, on the Army Staff, as Deputy Chief of Public Affairs and Deputy Chief of the Army Reserve, and with DoD’s Reserve Forces Policy Board. General Eder speaks and writes frequently on communication topics in universities and for international audiences and consults on communications issues.

General Eder is the author of Leading the Narrative: The Case for Strategic Communication, published by the Naval Institute Press. Her latest communications book, American Cyberscape, was released in November 2020. An inspirational book, The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Grit – the Women of WWII will be published in August of 2021 and is now available for print preorder on Amazon and other online retailers (, When not writing, lecturing, or traveling, she works with rescue groups and fosters rescue dogs.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."