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Ask and Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out Hardcover – May 14, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0807831151 ISBN-10: 0807831158 Edition: annotated edition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ask and Tell" offers the most comprehensive stories to date and provides a forum for veterans to discuss the legacy of the military's infamous 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."--"Publishers Weekly"

Review

These oral histories are eloquent, poignant, harrowing, inspiring, and more. The testimony of these veterans forces us to think about American military history and gay life in altogether new ways. Ask and Tell is a revelation.--John D'Emilio, coauthor of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America|At a time when many are questioning the ability of the US military to sustain a large troop force for a prolonged period in Iraq without draftees or less-qualified volunteers, Steve Estes's Ask & Tell is a reminder that top-quality men and women are not always at home in the service--at least not if the Pentagon thinks they are lesbian or gay.--Journal of American Culture|An indispensable document.--Women: A Cultural Review|Whether one believes the military should lift its ban on open confession of homosexuality or not, it is hard to argue with Estes that 'at the very least, this volume documents courage that should not be forgotten.' Estes's work is a welcome addition to the debate over homosexuals in the military and an appreciable addition to an all-too-elided aspect of military history.--Military Review|Ask and Tell helps us to reclaim the humanity of gay people in the military--to see their stories in all their textured, varied, and contradictory detail. . . . What Estes has done, in short, is to undertake a work of social and historical reconstruction. He distills complex stories of human experience, rendering them approachable without attempting to draw out of them the seamlessness of a legal complaint or the fluency of a novel. Right now, such unembellished reconstruction is just what we need.--The International History Review|This essential oral history collection tells the stories we were never meant to hear and ultimately calls for an end to one of America's bastions of homophobia.--Curve|While several notable books have considered the experiences of gay and lesbian veterans in WWII and Vietnam, Ask and Tell offers the most comprehensive stories to date and provides a forum for veterans to discuss the legacy of the military's infamous 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.--Publishers Weekly|An excellent history of both gay and lesbian life and the gay rights movement. . . . These narratives tell volumes about the experiences of gay servicemen and women, and powerfully illustrate how patriotism and commitment to service cut across gender and sexuality. The narratives will make important contributions to classroom discussions in sexuality, sociology, gender studies, and military history. Highly recommended.--Choice|A deeper understanding emerges of military culture and the way 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' runs counter to the military's core values. [Estes's interviewees] take Senator Sam Nunn's argument--that the cramped living conditions of military life preclude the integration of gay and straight troops--and turn it on its head.--The Journal of American History|This is a remarkable oral history collection. Estes' book reads as a narrative of the long history of lesbian and gay military service, documenting the challenges and triumphs of lesbian and gay enlisted personnel and officers in every service through eloquent and moving testimonials. Fascinating, provocative, deeply moving, and vitally necessary, these testimonials highlight the courage of ordinary women and men who answered the call to serve and in telling their stories continue to serve this nation by disrupting the collective amnesia that surrounds gay and lesbian military service.--Leisa D. Meyer, The College of William and Mary |[A] compelling book.--Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare|The great value of this book lies in the documentation of the personal lives described, and how their career progress and personal happiness were impeded by institutionalized homophobia.--Bay Area Reporter|The stories here are simply riveting. Unlike any other author, Estes has compiled a remarkably broad cast of individuals from every recent era, allowing the reader to trace the history of gays and lesbians in the military in a very comprehensive way. This is an outstanding book that will be of great interest and pleasure to a wide range of readers.--Aaron Belkin, University of California, Santa Barbara
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; annotated edition edition (May 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807831158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807831151
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,580,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Estes grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and he earned a PhD at the University of North Carolina. Estes is currently a professor of history at Sonoma State University in Northern California. He lives in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Very readable oral histories of the lives of gays who have served honorably in our country's armed forces. This book helps those of us who are not gay to understand the added stresses placed on gays who desire a military career by the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. It reveals the devotion of many of these men and women to their careers in the armed forces and the conflicts they experienced in living fulfilling personal lives while performing their military duties with excellence. I would recommend it to both gay and straight readers as a historical accounting with pertinence to our country's ongoing dialogue on integration of gay citizens into the fabric of our national life.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hughes on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I am one of the veterans fetured in "Ask and Tell". I do not know the author personally, and I have no financial interest in this book. With that out of the way...

Steve Estes has done a remarkable job. Through the personal accounts of dozens of gay veterans, the author has woven a coherent and compelling narrative. His subjects span every military branch and rank, every kind of family background and all corners of the U.S. They are endearing, instructive and always entertaining. Their stories show just how capricious military policy on homosexuality has been: some serve openly and honorably, others, no less honorable, are hounded out of the service with an indelible stain on their records and on their lives.

It's always a pleasure to swap war stories with fellow vets, young and old. This collection is now a part of that time-honored tradition. Reading it, I felt like those men and women were talking right to me. Their stories conjured so many memories in me - of basic training, barracks life, sexual politics and, yes, war - that I know I will take great delight in reading and re-reading this book for many years to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is now, but will be of even greater historical significance once "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed. It consists of oral histories of 50 gay and lesbian veterans who served in the military, starting from WWII and the Greatest Generation up to present day Iraq and Afghanistan. Also included are the military academies and a section on women's fight to serve on the front line instead of being relegated to office clerks and secretaries. The veterans' stories are compelling, interesting and it gives the reader just how slowly things have changed for generations of gays and lesbians serving our country. These veterans not only faced the pressure of enemy fire, but also homophobia and prejudice from within. It takes people of great strength and resolve to endure all of this. I can't imagine the stress they faced during the time they served.
Hopefully with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", things will start to improve. This is an important book, especially since most of the veterans from WWII and the Korean War have passed on. But their stories will live on, thanks to the author, Mr. Estes. It is too bad a book couldn't have been written exclusively about WWII veterans.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I read this the summer before I left for my first deployment. It is not just a great read for those interested in learning more about the life of gay service members over time, it is a great resource of personal accounts and service member's experiences over times. I really enjoyed reading about what military life was like during other wars in this format.
It is a great read for gay service members especially! It will make you feel much more normal to hear about other service members with similar experiences and how they managed.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Ohl on February 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the stories told in this book. Too bad there weren't more stories about WWII. Amazing life tales from officers were very interesting. Unfortunately, it is now a little outdated as DADT has been abolished.
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