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A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) Hardcover – May 10, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: ReVisioning American History
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807044393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807044391
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Bronski does a stunning job of sweeping across five hundred years and weaving ‘queer’ through the history of this nation. Always insightful, and provocative.”—John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet

“The first book to cover all of LGBT history from 1492 through the present is Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States (Beacon Press). It is wonderfully readable and looks at the way we understand the history of the United States. The LGBT population moves from the margins to the mainstream and we see that the history of this country also is our history.”—Windy City Times

“Bronski's book provides an excellent overview for readers new to the field of gay history. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries...”—CHOICE Magazine 

“...A succinct distillation of the history of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in America… Bronski’s impeccable research bolsters his arguments… a useful handbook for LGBT activist groups and other interested members of the gay community.”—Boston Globe 

“In the age of Twitter and reductive history, we need a complex, fully realized, radical reassessment of history—and A Queer History of the United States is exactly that. Along the way, there are enough revelations and reassessments to fuel dozens of arguments about how we got to where we are today. I don’t know when I have enjoyed a history so much.”—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
 
“Bronski has that rare ability to comprehensively synthesize a large body of material without simplifying or distorting it, taking as much care with historical evidence as with the shifts in language necessary to accurately understand it.”—Martin Duberman, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, City University of New York
 
“This book is a revelation. Its lively and engaging narrative peels back layers of cultural interconnection—from the creation of corn flakes to curb masturbation to Bette Midler’s rise to stardom that started at a gay bathhouse—and much more. Bronski has a Zinn-like grasp of the ties that bind us all together and how to illuminate them on the page.”—Jewelle Gomez, activist and author of The Gilda Stories
 
“Bronski demonstrates with wit, insight, and impeccable scholarship that queer lives are, and always have been, woven into the very fabric of this country. Readable, radical, and smart—a must read.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
 
“Elegant, insightfully selective, and unremittingly intelligent, Bronski’s survey—of the whys and the ways queer people’s work and struggle have been integral in forming what we call ‘the United States of America’—is an impressive and useful overview."—Samuel R. Delany, author of Times Square Red, Times Square Blue
 
“A savvy political, legal, literary (and even fashion) history, Bronski’s narrative is as intellectually rigorous as it is entertaining.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review 

“Bronski does a stunning job of sweeping across five hundred years and weaving ‘queer’ through the history of this nation. Always insightful, and provocative.”—John D’Emilio, author of Lost Prophet

“[A] monumental achievement.”—The Bay Area Reporter 

About the Author

Michael Bronski is professor of practice in media and activism in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program at Harvard University. He has written extensively on LGBT issues for four decades, in both mainstream and queer publications, and is the author of three other books and editor of several anthologies. 

More About the Author

Michael Bronski, co-author of "You Can Tell Just By Looking" (Beacon, Oct. 2013.)He is Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. He has written extensively on LGBT issues for four decades, in both mainstream and queer publications. His A Queer History of the United States won a Lammy Literary Award in 2012, as well as the American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Israel Fishman award that same year. His Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps won a Lambda Literary Award in 2003.

Photo: Marilyn Humphries

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Customer Reviews

Professor Bronski does an admirable job of presenting a survey of U.S. LGBT history in this clearly written book.
Richard Jimenez
While I enjoyed the book, the author did tend to jump around chronologically, which makes it a bit hard to stay focused on the time periods he was trying to portray.
Jare
He makes no judgment call on the gay community's responsibility to respect anyone's opinion that doesn't meet his.
S. W. Best

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James R. Gilligan VINE VOICE on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Covering almost 500 years of history in fewer than 250 pages is certainly a daunting task, and one that--by necessity--requires sacrificing some depth for the sake of breadth. Bronski, however, does an impressive job of providing adequate depth and critical insight as he weaves together a "queer history" (more on the title in a moment) of the US, connecting pivotal events in the LGBT community to relevant social, political, cultural, and international historic events. By doing so, he contextualizes the evolution of LGBT people in the US (and their predecessors, who most likely did not identify as lesbian or gay but who were certainly same-sex attracted) in a way that vividly exemplifies their importance in the development of the country as a whole. I suspect that Bronski chose the syntax of his title quite carefully--note that he calls his book "A Queer History," implying that: a) his version is one of numerous possible interpretations; and b) history itself--and not just the people who populate it--can be queer(ed). Although this book is by no means comprehensive (such a task would be impossible), Bronski has packed his pages with a plethora of educational facts and critical analyses. For example, he considers the wealth of homoerotic references in early American literature, from well-known works such as Moby-Dick to the more obscure work of Charles Warren Stoddard. Bronski also deftly manages to elucidate the intricate interconnections among sexuality, gender, and race and offers a few tentative theories regarding their co-evolution in our nation's history.Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on May 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I found that I pretty much knew the history presented here - I'd picked it up over the years in a variety of books and periodicals. This will be most informative to someone looking at our history for the first time. I highly recommend Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present which I found outstanding in every way.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dorfman VINE VOICE on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This only moderately successful political history reads like the syllabus of a Gay History 101 college course. It touches on all the high points but makes you wish for the weekly lectures to investigate the people, conditions and implications hinted at in this volume.

Not surprisingly for a professor of Women's Studies (at Dartmouth), Mr. Bronski gives women loving women (though not necessarily explicitly lesbian) much more page space and well-deserved credit for all that they contributed to the national dialogue and evolution of attitudes towards a more tolerant attitude of Americans.

Jonathan Ned Katz, a writer mentioned by Mr. Bronski several times, posited that heterosexuality did not exist until there was a named, delineated homosexuality that needed to be reacted against. Mr. Bronski seems to posit that queer history is actually the story of how heterosexuality was modified to reflect the changing definitions of American manhood by various versions of Social Purists down the decades, including, in the Epilogue, our present times. This evolution of masculinity represents societal reaction to counterbalance the civilizing affect of homosexuality on heterosexual men, an effect once believed to be the purview of women and family.

At times providing fresh insight, "A Queer History Of The United States (Revisioning American History)" doesn't provide anything that those who have studied gay history don't already know or have heard about. The "Queer" in the title is more directed not as an identity but in the use of the word as a verb, the equivalent of the "Revisioning" in the subtitle. In my reading of this book, this revisionism seems to shift the success of the LGBT Rights movement from activism to passivism.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Magyar on May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
At least Bronski is honest and says his book has a political point of view, and it should be read and evaluated as such. It is a good example of the "gay liberationist interpretation of history," sort of a gay version of the "whig interpretation of history." (Look up "whig history" on wikipedia).

But at least I would expect him to get his facts right. Case in point: on p 220 he says that the 1977 Miami referendum was the first time local gay rights legislation was put up to a popular vote, which explained the large vote against it (?) Wrong:In 1974 a local gay rights ordinance in Boulder Colorado was repealed by popular referendum by a large vote.

Also his account of the California Briggs amendment campaign is wrong-headed. The amendment wasn't defeated because gay activists were able to get voters to respond "To a personal appeal that allowed them insight into the lives and lesbian and gay men." The amendment was defeated because it became an issue of privacy rights and government intrusion which is why Ronald Reagan, conservative California Senator H.I. Hayakawa, Howard Jarvis, leader of the California anti-tax movement and the California John Birch Society opposed the amendment. Partly because of their opposition the amendment lost, even in some of the most conservative counties in the state.
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