Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience

A raw, unflinching memoir by a former US Marine Captain chronicling her journey from dutiful daughter of immigrants to radical activist effecting historic policy reform. On sale 3.26.19.

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After a lifetime of buckling to the demands of her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati abandons grad school in the Ivy League to join the Marines—the fiercest, most violent, most masculine branch of the military—determined to prove herself there in ways she couldn’t at home.

Yet once training begins, Anuradha’s G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured. As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, and astonishing injustice perpetrated by those in power. Pushing herself beyond her limits, she also wrestles with what exactly drove her to pursue such punishment in the first place.

Once her service concludes in 2004, Anuradha courageously vows to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines. Her efforts result in historic change, including the lifting of the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.

A tale of heroic resilience grappling with the timely question of what, exactly, America stands for, Unbecoming is about one woman who learned to believe in herself in spite of everything. It is the kind of story that will light a fire beneath you, and that will inspire our next generation of fierce female heroes.

 

What people are saying about Anuradha and Unbecoming

“While reading a book to review, it’s usually useful to fold over a page’s corner to make it easy to come back, to reflect on each noteworthy passage…But then you find yourself folding down the next page, and another, and another, until more than half the book is folded down, rendering the tactic useless as a reference but testimony to the story’s potency.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Bhagwati’s book stands out most as a chronicle of overcoming psychological trauma…The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit.”
New York Times Book Review

“Every person interested in how the military should recruit, train and retain women must read “Unbecoming.” And every leader in the armed forces should pick up a copy to better understand how misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault hurt the all-volunteer force.”
Military Times Book Review

“Bhagwati’s fight is both incensing and inspiring.”
Booklist

“Remarkable and radical in all the best senses.”
Barnes & Noble (BN.com)

“Unbecoming brims with the ebullient Bhagwati’s fierce humanism, seething humor and change-maker righteousness… Anuradha Bhagwati’s fiery memoir is about serving her country–both during her Marine Corps days and through her activism afterward.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

“[Anuradha] Bhagwati pulls no punches with this uncompromising memoir…Bhagwati’s candor and razor-sharp writing are in full evidence throughout her gritty and well-paced memoir.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“[An] honest and unflinching memoir…[Anuradha’s] candid story pulls back the curtain on a hidden world in which highly capable women who thrive on the challenge of being a soldier are hindered by the men who surround them.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Anuradha Bhagwati chronicles with admirable candor the examination and reconstruction of her identity, a journey taking her to Yale, the Marine Corps, and eventually the halls of Congress. If you want to understand the seismic changes in U.S. military culture over the past decade, read this book.”
—Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue and Dark At the Crossing

“Anuradha Bhagwati has written a captivating and vital book, one that seamlessly marries compelling, insightful personal narrative with her astute critique of how the systems that shape our lives are failing us. It’s a must-read.”
Soraya Chemaly, activist and author of Rage Becomes Her

Unbecoming is a raw, fearless, open-hearted chronicle of one woman’s journey through the center of white male violence and out the other side. In confronting herself as unsparingly as the military powers she took on, Bhagwati has written that rare page-turner that will not only make you want to be a better person, but teach you how.”
––Jaclyn Friedman, feminist activist and author of Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All

“An insightful story about the daughter of immigrants who tries to find her place in this country all the while enduring racism, homophobia and sexism. Anuradha continues to fight for what is right so everyone can have the true American Dream: equal rights for all.”
—Specialist Shoshana Johnson, USA, Ret., author of I’m Still Standing

Unbecoming is so much more than your typical military memoir. As an advocate who led the charge on exposing military sexual assault and supporting women’s access to ground combat assignments, Anuradha sheds light upon how change actually happens in Washington, especially when resistance is fierce and the stakes are high.”
MJ Hegar, bestselling author of Shoot Like a Girl

“In her memoir Unbecoming, Anuradha Bhagwati powerfully depicts the forces that shaped and drove her as an unrelenting advocate for women in the military, fighting to expand opportunities and to reform the military’s treatment of sexual violence. It is a testament to the Herculean effort needed for progress to happen, and of the work that is yet to be done.”
Phil Klay, recipient of the National Book Award, author of Redeployment

“Anuradha Bhagwati’s Unbecoming addresses the proverbial dilemma of confronting traditional expectations as a South Asian daughter. But Bhagwati—who grows up in the heart of the West and comes-of-age in New York City where popular culture holds sway—reckons with bouts of self-hatred, as she comes to terms with the complexities of identity. She renders a vivid examination of sexuality, education at Yale, the brutal rituals of training at Quantico as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, sexual harassment and disrespect coded into the military machine, yoga and meditation, reentry into civilian life while dreaming as a Marine, and psychological struggles in a VA hospital whose staff is ill-trained and unprofessional. Bhagwati delves into gut-level truth, and a reader is wholly engaged. The memoir’s narrator is fully initiated, and her one-of-a-kind voice plumbs multiple avenues for social justice. Unbecoming is an act of becoming.”
Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author of Neon Vernacular

Media

For media requests or event bookings, please email Milena Brown at milena.brown@simonandschuster.com

 

C-SPAN / Book TV May 11, 2019

NPR / 1A How Can We Protect Women In The Military From Sexual Misconduct? April 29, 2019

Boston Globe / The few, the proud, the sexually harassed April 22, 2019

PureWow / Which Book Should You Read, Based on Your Zodiac Sign? April 22, 2019

New York Times / Book Review April 21, 2019

Military Times / Book Review April 15, 2019

Los Angeles Times / Book Review April 12, 2019


ConnectingVets.com / New book by USMC vet takes aim at treatment of women Marines April 5, 2019


Bustle /  29 New Memoirs Out In Spring To Help You Welcome Warm-Weather Reading April 4, 2019


New York Times / Ex-National Security Officials Sue to Limit Censorship of Their Books April 2, 2019

Zero Blog Thirty / The Marine Corps Hymn Slaps April 2, 2019

Shelf-Awareness / Book Review March 29, 2019

FOX 5 (WNYW – NY) / Fox News at 6 PM with Ernie Anastos March 28, 2019 

TODAY Show / Former Marine Shares Mission to Help Women in Uniform March 26, 2019

Brian Lehrer Show / For the Women in the Marines March 26, 2019

Military.com / GI Jane Was a Fairy Tale March 26, 2019

Unscrewed with Jaclyn Friedman / Unbecoming March 26, 2019

Spine Magazine / Can’t Wait to Read! March 26, 2019

Hello Giggles / The Best New Books To Read This Week, March 26, 2019

10% Happier with Dan Harris / Activism Against Military Sexual Assault March 20, 2019


Get Literary / Captain Marvel Fans, Here Are the Real-Life Feminist Heroes You’re Craving March 8, 2019

Book Riot / 50 Spectacular Books You Need to Read This Spring March 7, 2019

Washington Blade / SPRING ARTS 2019 BOOKS: Stonewall 50th inspires new books February 28, 2019

Barnes and Noble, 7 Essential Reads for This Women’s History Month February 26, 2019

PureWow,11 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in March February 25, 2019

Booklist Book Review, February 15, 2019

New York Times Op-Ed, February 4, 2019


Feminist Press, What We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019 January 4, 2019

Book Riot, Most Anticipated 2019 LGBTQ Reads January 2, 2019

Kirkus Book Review, January 1, 2019


Publishers Weekly Book Review, December 24, 2018   


PureWow, 35 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019 December 21, 2018

Bustle, 20 Books Coming Out In 2019 That Will Make The Perfect Book Club Picks December 12, 2018

 

Events

Unbecoming launches on March 26, 2019

March 26, New York City
Strand Book Store
7 PM
A Conversation with Prof Brittney Cooper

March 27, New York City
Rubin Museum of Art
7 PM
Finding Resilience and Making Change in the Military
A Conversation with Dr Jennifer Chan

April 1, Washington, D.C.
Politics and Prose
7 PM
A Conversation with Soraya Chemaly

April 2, Philadelphia
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books
7 PM
A Conversation with Stephanie Renee

April 5-6, Boston
Muse and the Marketplace: Grub Street’s National Conference for Writers
Writing About Trauma Without Losing It, April 5, 11:45 AM
Agents and Editors of Color Roundtable, April 6, 1 PM

April 9, New Haven
Yale Law School, with Prof Michael Wishnie, 1 PM
TD College Tea, with Prof Mary Lui, 4:30 PM
Yale Book Store, 6:30 PM

April 13-14, Los Angeles
LA Times Festival of Books
Memoir: Queer Coming-of-Age, April 14, 2:30 PM

April 15, Los Angeles
UC Riverside, 3:30 PM

April 18, New York City
Stuyvesant High School Library

April 23, Boston
Harvard Book Store 
7 PM
A Conversation with Jaclyn Friedman

April 24, New York City
Integral Yoga Institute
6:30 PM

April 25, Brooklyn
McNally Jackson Books
7 PM
A Conversation with Rakesh Satyal

April 26, New York City
Soho House

May 7, New York City
Uber Headquarters, 1400 Broadway, 12th Floor
Fireside Chat
3-4:30 PM

May 14, New York City
NYS Health Foundation Conference
Veterans’ Experiences Using VA and Private Care, 10:15 AM

May 16, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Pete’s Candy Store

May 23, New York City
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
APIDA Heritage Month
3-4:30 PM

June 6, Portland
LiveWire Radio
7:30 PM

June 11, Washington DC
The Wing, Georgetown
6 PM

June 19, NYC
Knight Institute, Columbia University

June 28, Seattle
Keynote, Google

 

 

 

Writing

About

Anuradha Bhagwati
Photo: Seher Sikandar
Click image to download full size/high resolution.

Anuradha Bhagwati is a writer, activist, yoga and meditation teacher, and Marine Corps veteran. She founded the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), which brought national attention to sexual violence in the military and helped repeal the ban on women in combat. Anuradha is a regular media commentator on issues related to national security, women’s rights, civil rights, and mental health. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Foreign Affairs, and New Republic. She lives in New York City with her service dog Duke.

Anuradha is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Susan B. Anthony Award from NOW-NYC, the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence, the National Women’s Law Center Champions for Women in the Military Award, the Vietnam Veterans of America Keeping Faith Award, and the Working Mother Multicultural Women’s National Conference Legacy Award.

Are you ready for Anuradha’s pull up challenge? You know you want to.

Contact

For media requests or event bookings, please email Milena Brown at milena.brown@simonandschuster.com.

Anuradha is represented by Anna Sproul-Latimer at Ross Yoon Agency.

 

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