Book Review: Tell

By, Terri Schlichenmeyer

Cover - Tell.jpg

For those who love her, Margie Witt has always been known as an active, take-charge, caring person. Her new biographic book, Tell, provides great context for her powerful personal and professional journey through the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) era.

A tomboy growing up, she befriended the friendless, got along with everyone, and was a super-responsible leader. It was, therefore, a natural fit when, in 1987, Witt decided to join the Air Force, even though she was gay. But, of course, nobody was supposed to know that. As an elite member of the military, Witt fully understood that just being gay meant a military discharge. By order, nobody could ask her about that and she, in turn, could not discuss her sexuality. Still, because secrets are never totally secret, Witt was ever-cautious. Fearing rejection, she hadn’t come out to her parents or her siblings yet. On the other hand, close pals knew that Witt was a lesbian, as did a fellow reservist who’d defied DADT in order to put his suspicions to rest.

In an oddly appealing third-person voice, author Major Margaret Witt (with Tim Connor) starts her tale with a deployment and moves quickly to a charmingly nostalgic biography that ultimately loses some of its charm in an overload of details. There are a lot of peripheral people in this tale, the presence of which sometimes feels more shout-out and less necessity.

Stick around: the details have a shift of focus about mid-way here, once you get past the set-up and into the books’ raison d’être. Things move faster in the re-telling of the legal aftermath of Witt’s exposure, the fight for gay rights in the military, and Witt’s own (mostly)-happily-ever-after. That’s what makes this slice-of-life history tale one that’s highly readable and deeply personal. That’s what makes “Tell” a score.

Tell: Love, Defiance, and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights was written by Major Margaret Witt with Tim Connor and includes a foreword by Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer. The book was published by ForeEdge.

Terri Schlichenmeyer