Books,  Fiction,  Historical Fiction

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon by Kathleen McInnis Book Review

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon by Kathleen McInnis Book Review

The lowdown from Goodreads

Publication Date September 25, 2018

The Devil Wears Prada meets Catch-22; a novel about a young woman’s journey into the heart of Washington’s war machine.

Dr. Heather Reilly has been an anti-war activist since her brother died fighting the Taliban. But her crushing student loans drive her to take a job working on a peace plan for Afghanistan, in the last place on Earth she ever thought she’d be employed: the Pentagon. On her first day, however, her position is eliminated and she’s shuffled to a war-fighting office focused on combating Russian aggression. Unfortunately, she knows little about Russia and has deep moral reservations about war. 

Making matters worse, she’s also working for Ariane Fletcher—a woman so terrifying, she eats generals for breakfast. As Heather learns to navigate the Pentagon’s insane bureaucracy and petty power struggles, she finds that her successes come at the expense of her personal life… and that small mistakes can have major consequences in the Department of Defense.

From Washington D.C.’s corridors of power to the dusty streets of Kabul, Kathleen McInnis spins a smart, hilarious, and heartwarming tale that shines a light on the often frustrating but sometimes rewarding experience of a career in the Pentagon.  Packed with insider knowledge about one of the least-known—yet most-powerful—organizations in U.S. national security, McInnis’ debut novel establishes her as a major new literary voice with a point of view we’ve never seen before.

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon by Kathleen McInnis Book Review

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon by Kathleen McInnis, surprised me.  While there is no doubt that it is a historical fiction/drama, I actually found myself laughing quite a bit.  The book started a little slowly, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down.

Things Don’t Always Go As Planned

Dr. Heather Reilly finds her life at a crossroads.  She lost her brother in the war, and her vegan fiance lives half a world away.  She takes an academic fellowship at the Pentagon to make ends meet, only to find out that the job she signed up for no longer exists and she finds herself in the war office, working for someone she despises and getting caught up in the political bureaucracy.  Heather came in wanting to work for peace, but ends up working for the war.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon is being compared to The Devil Wears Prada, and for good reason.  It is truly a fish out of water story, complete with a demanding female boss and a woman who learns to navigate her new world.  This book could have only been written by an insider, which Kathleen McInnis is.  Reading about the politics and the way this world works was fascinating, and the author writes it perfectly.  I felt like I was running around the Pentagon with her.

Vulnerability and Humor

What I think makes this book so successful is the vulnerability the character has.  Kathleen McInnis had no problem putting Dr. Heather Reilly in many embarrassing situations, and that humility keeps this war book feel almost light.  There was a lot of dialog, which at times felt distracting, but also kept you present.


I am Really Into The Heart of War.  I love when a book surprises me, and this one certainly did.  There were many times I found myself laughing out loud while getting to know a world I knew existed, but had no idea about.  I was given this book due to my love of historical fiction, but I think this is one anyone can enjoy – what’s not to love?  There is war, romance, humor, and a lot of female empowerment.  Kathleen McInnis has a great voice and a unique background; I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Special thanks to Kathleen J McInnis, Claire McKinney PR, Simon & Schuster, & Post Hill Press for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

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Kathleen J. McInnis is a national security policy specialist who has worked in the Pentagon, the UK Parliament, and think tanks on both sides of the Atlantic. Having earned her doctorate at King’s College London, she currently analyzes international security and defense issues for the United States Congress. Kathleen lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

I am a Texan living in California with my husband Mark, my best pup Ziggy, and our two cats Marilyn and Goldie. I love reading, cooking, binge-watching great tv shows and staying up too late talking to my friends.


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