Yet the drama of Burana’s unlikely relationship with her husband keeps the pages turning. While the oft-quoted statistic is that fifty percent of marriages are doomed to fail, a military marriage is an order of magnitude more likely to end in divorce. In the book’s second act, Burana and her husband are both diagnosed with PTSD, and their marriage begins to unravel. She leaves the bucolic, cozy domesticity of West Point housing—which she calls “military Mayberry”—to lick her identity-crisis wounds at a nearby crappy motel.
Burana’s greatest strength is her ability to fully inhabit each moment: when she recounts her early, rapturous days with Mike, the telling is in no way colored by the subsequent breakdown. Nor is her account of the breakdown tainted by the recovery that followed. Here is the mark of a formidable memoirist.
Equally remarkable, and somewhat disconcerting, is how little the author comments on the war itself. To be sure, Iraq is conspicuous by its absence—the bloody conflict that dare not speak its name. Burana distracts the reader with her suspenseful and involved storytelling, waiting until the end of the book to address her dignified silence on the matter. By then, it feels a little too late.
Ultimately, though, we side with Burana, no matter how drunk on United States Armed Forces Kool-Aid she may be. Even those of us who don’t support the war can support the troops. Similarly, we can support a woman whose most important relationship is not with the war or the politics surrounding it, but with someone paid to deal with both. And though we might not be fully behind every word of this story, I Love A Man in Uniform is an honest, illuminating look at what we can only call the military-industrial multiple-personality complex.