Hickenlooper, Helen Thorpe on same page at Denver book signing

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]EOPLE filled a fleet of folding chairs, stood against the walls and squatted on the floor and on the stairs in the basement of the Tattered Cover on Colfax on Tuesday night to hear author Helen Thorpe discuss her award-winning new book Soldier Girls: the Battles of Three Women at Home and at War. Governor John Hickenlooper sat in the second row. The two were married for ten years before separating amicably in 2012.

Thorpe’s book centers on three women enlisted in the Indiana National Guard who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thorpe followed the soldiers from 2001 to 2013 as they prepared for war, were deployed and then returned home. The subjects are immersed in hyper-masculine military culture and their experiences, as related by Thorpe, provide a valuable and underreported perspective on what it means to be an American soldier today.

Why are the soldiers referred to as “girls” in the title? asked one audience member during the question-and-answer session. Thorpe explained the title is meant to be ironic, that the juxtaposition of the words “soldier” and “girls” is so unusual that it provokes critical thought about the connotations each hold, she said. She added that her publisher rejected her preferred title.

After the talk, Thorpe signed copies of the book and Hickenlooper, who’s running for re-election this year against Republican Bob Beauprez, chatted with a steady stream of event attendees.

He told the Independent he was there just to listen and to support Thorpe.

“We split three years ago, but she was kind enough to still dedicate the book to me. We’re still a family, just a different kind of family.”

The event was presented by Colorado Public Radio and hosted by on-air personality Ryan Warner.

[ Photo by Nat Stein. ]