- Hardcover: 784 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (May 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031209261X
- ISBN-13: 978-0312092610
- Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,469,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military, Vietnam to the Persian Gulf Hardcover – May, 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
I got my copy while at work, and immediately flipped through to find the sections that spoke about my Aunt. I started reading out loud to my co-workers, and pretty soon, a small group had gathered and was raptly listening to me read aloud. I was amazed that they were interested in the stories in the book as well as touched at their outrage at the discrimination I was reading to them.
This book is very interesting and talks about a part of history many people do not realize. I'd always been so proud of my Aunt for being one of the FEW women Colonels in her day, yet I never realized the scrutiny she lived under in the Army and the constant fear of being "outed" as a Lesbian.
Gay people have contributed greatly to our United States Military, and this book recognizes that fact as well as opens our eyes to the discrimination that gay women and men fighting for our country had to face, an added burden that didn't fall on the shoulders of the heterosexual soldiers.
I would strongly recommend this book.
Randy Shilts, better known perhaps for his book (later constructed into a telefilm) 'And the Band Played On...', about the AIDS crisis, turned his journalistic eye and talents to one of the last great approved discriminations in America -- that of the institutionalised disapproval of the military (one of the largest economic forces in America, and one of the largest employers and providers of training and benefits) of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people within the ranks.
Shilts begins his discussion historically, looking back over the history of the United States as to how this issue has been dealt with. Actually, there isn't that much information for the longest period (1778-1954), understandably as (as the Victorians would have phrased it), the love that dared not speak its name in fact rarely did. This 750+ page tome devotes a mere 19 pages to this historical period, in which Shilts argues that there was back-and-forth acceptance and rejection of gays in the military. This perhaps is wishful thinking on his part -- one could even argue that 'gay' didn't exist in quite the same way then as now (sociologically speaking), so to address the issue then as now would be difficult to compare.
Throughout the rest of the text, Shilts examines, largely through personal stories and accounts, of how the armed forces viewed, disapproved, and rooted out military personnel suspected of same-sex activity.Read more ›
In the opening "Author's Note," Shilts writes that he interviewed 1,100 people for the book; this included "military personnel, their families, and their lawyers" as well as others. He also notes that in his research he "accumulated nearly 15,000 pages in previously unreleased documents." The nitty gritty work shows in this richly detailed book, and is well documented in the endnotes.
From the raw material Shilts has fashioned a truly epic narrative. At times it reads like a novel with many characters whose stories are woven into one overarching story. The tale spans the globe and many decades. Along the way Shilts introduces many remarkable people, among them Air Force sergeant Leonard Matlovich, Army sergeant Perry Watkins, Navy midshipman Joseph Steffan, and many more.
Shilts recounts many horrific stories of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, and suicide. The stories are often dystopian nightmares that seem more like tales out of Nazi Germany or the USSR. But there are also accounts of personal courage and triumph which counterbalance the harsher material. Particularly fascinating is Shilts' account of the persistent gay/lesbian subculture in the military, particularly aboard naval vessels. The details of Shilts' stories are illuminating and memorable, and sometimes humorous.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book especially since a friend is in it. A good readPublished 1 month ago by Barry C. Lawrence
An incredible text. Difficult to read at times for all its obsession, hatred and bigotry, particularly by the service branch's investigative services personnel and the military... Read morePublished 1 month ago by a reader...
This is the complete review as it appears ([...]) at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
For 20 years, I've worked, as a psychotherapist with active duty military & their families, as well with as vets. Read morePublished 24 months ago by David C. Young
This book is a shining example of showing gays in the military. Gays will always be in the military. They should be allowed to serve open and proudly. Read morePublished on June 20, 2010 by Victor Diaz
When I went to journalism school in San Francisco. Randy Shilts was mentioned by a professor (one of Shilts' colleagues) as one of the finest reporters in the city. Read morePublished on April 17, 2010 by Jamie
Every now and then one runs across a book where the author has used the English language not simply to tell a story, but to masterfully paint upon a canvas to create a one of a... Read morePublished on September 9, 2009 by Jon Gordon