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Military Times calls 'Unfriendly Fire' a top book of the decade

(SANTA BARBARA) -The Military Times has chosen a book criticizing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as one of its sixteen best military books of the decade. The book, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, by Dr. Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow at UC Santa Barbara’s Palm Center, was selected this week by the paper's lead book reviewer, J. Ford Huffman, for inclusion in a list of books that "excel in writing and reporting, that invite re-reading, that evoke emotion and offer enlightenment."

“Unfriendly Fire "separates opinion from fact, and a reader could suggest Congress and the Pentagon accept this engaging study as definitive," wrote Huffman. He further added that the stories of service members and the use of statistics "lend credibility" to the book's argument that the current policy has failed and that it hurts, rather than helps, unit cohesion and military effectiveness.

Huffman has also praised the book for its scholarly methodology, its deep and extensive research, and its human and accessible voice.

Dr Aaron Belkin, who is also a professor of political science at UCSB, said the selection is significant because the Military Times is the newspaper of record for the U.S. armed forces.

"The selection of a book like this for recognition, a book that questions the rationale and impact of the military's gay ban, reflects a substantial change in sentiment within the military,” said Belkin.

He further stated that the newspaper is a major source of news for military members and their families, and while the paper enjoys independence from the military, it has historically shared the norms and outlooks of the military community.

Frank said he felt honored to have his book included on the list.

"Most writers hope their voice will be heard, above all," said Frank. "It's heartening to know that the military community is now approaching this controversial subject with an open mind, and that many have a genuine interest in reviewing and recognizing what the facts are about gays in the military."

Frank added that the recognition of his argument was consistent with what both research and personal military contacts increasingly show: that resistance to openly gay service has dropped dramatically and that there is genuine support for lifting "don't ask, don't tell" within the military, even while it's not always made public.

Other picks on the list, which was arranged alphabetically, include many that chronicle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Fiasco by the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Thomas Ricks; The Forever War by the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times journalist Dexter Filkins; the bestselling Cobra II co-written by New York Times journalist Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor; the bestselling The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney; and Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, which also became a film.