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Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life 1918-1945 Paperback – November 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (November 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571198473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571198474
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,338,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The torment and loneliness of homosexuality in a more repressive era is palpably evoked in this intense diary of Jeb Alexander (1899-1965), the pseudonym for Russell's uncle. Jeb, who was an editor in a government office in Washington, D.C., bequeathed to Russell 50 volumes of diaries from which she distilled this selection. Extending from the WW I armistice to the stock market crash to the defeat of fascism, this gracefully written diary includes myriad impressions of topical events and people like Will Rogers, Pola Negri, Thornton Wilder, Charles Lindbergh and others. But the unifying thread is Jeb's love affairs, including his long time relationship with C. C. Dasham, a state department employee. Readers are privy to Jeb's fears that he may be under police surveillance as a suspected "deviant" criminal, and to his distress over an unsympathetic society that allows him little happiness or peace of mind. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1965 Ina Russell inherited 50 volumes of diaries in a fireproof cabinet from her uncle Jeb Alexander (pseudonym). Unbeknownst to her was the treasure trove of American gay history they would yield. Upon reading the eloquently written memoirs, she discovered her uncle's tempestuous love affair with C.C. Dash Dasham (pseudonym) and life as a gay government employee in Washington. Russell winnowed the volumes into an engrossing narrative of gay life from 1918 to 1945. Reading Jeb's diaries is to walk beside him and relive the sights, sounds, and smells of the Roaring Twenties, Depression, and World War II. A door has been opened here to view gay life firsthand in bygone eras. In 1923 Jeb wrote prophetically concerning his diary, "I do want it to be read--there is no use in concealing the fact--by somebody who is like me, who would understand." A superlative insight into early 20th-century gay history.
- Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Even though the book is called "Jeb and Dash", it really is more about Jeb.
So. Calif book reader
At the end of book, the reader wishes that even more of the diary had been included.
Tidewater
This book was recommended to me by a friend and it was a wonderfully fun surprise.
Hasemeister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
When I read "Jeb and Dash" I knew I had to own it. The book was lent to me by my gay comrade; he had written rubrics throughout the book expressing his own angst and joy. I found my joy in the book; I had already experienced the angst.
The life of these young men in a Washington I know, knew, love and loved, reaches deep within me. The college life at W&L is mirror of many gay men -- especially those of us who attended university in the 1950s -- and the saddness, anger, anxiety that Jeb experiences creates for the reader a powerful catharsis. Yes, it was me -- then.
What makes this beautiful book readable is the writing. Jeb obviously had a skill to weave and relate his story, to observe homosexual life accurately, to be part of a homosexual world and feel the anger of repression. Yet he functions in the unreal heterosexual world that dominates all our lives.
Lastly, as the book unfold in his "beautiful" Washington -- a place he does not want to leave -- my home, my Meridian Hill, my parks, my capitol, my White House all become as real as if we were there in his day.
The comrade,who lent me the book, and I spoke at length of this text. I told him, since I am over 60, this is a Washington I remember. A Washington that came to an end with the murder of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, when homosexual oppression reared its ugly head, Lady Bird and President Johnson were loath to condemn the people they worked with and trusted. Jeb's adoration of Wilson mirrored my adoration of JFK.
This book pleases. The four stars say that the book is not a "masterpiece." It certainly is a treasure in gay literature.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Jeb Alexander" is a pseudonym for a gay man who lived in Washington, D.C., for the first half of the twentieth century. He was prolific in keeping a diary, which he left to his niece, Ina Russell, who has edited the many volumes down to this one small, but meaty, book.
As a native Washingtonian, I most appreciated Jeb's take on the mundane details of Washington life, and of gay life at a time when homosexuals had no socially-accepted methods of meeting each other. Somehow, he managed to find several like-minded friends, including his school chum, "Dash," for whom he seemed to have carried a lift-long torch. More accurately, he was fixated on Dash.
Jeb Alexander, was a government worker; not a bureaucrat, simply one of the many people who do their daily stints year after year until they are eligible for a pension. He wanted to be a writer. He was a copious writer, but only when it came to his hand-written diaries. One could argue that at least he ultimately was published (30 years after his death) but he was not the kind of writer he aspired to be.
There seems to be an underlying sad parallel between the prolific diarist / stalled writer that Jeb was and the energy that he wasted as a result of his obsession with his friend. Because of either his constitution or his circumstances, he seemed averse to being alive, and frittered away his time in pursuits that I can't imagine he ever felt would amount to anything.
"Jeb and Dash" is a portrait of a "small" life-small like the lives most of us live. I enjoyed the view the book gave of some of the trivia of daily life and of my hometown. I also enjoyed the view it gave of some of the ways gay men lived their lives at a time when it was tougher than today.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wishful on November 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reviewer: Wishful (in Tennessee) - See all my reviews

Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life, 1918-1945

FROM OUR EDITORS

Here is the journal of Jeb Alexander, a gay man who lived in Washington, D.C. during the first half of the 20th century. Documents his life and details the joy & anguish of his on-&-off love affair with college chum C.C. Dasham.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

It occurred to me today with something of a shock how horrible it would be for this diary of mine to be pawed over and read unsympathetically after I am dead, by those incapable of understanding...

And then the thought of the one thing even more dreadful and terrible than that - for my diary never to be read by the one person who would or could understand. For I do want it to be read - there is no use concealing the fact - by somebody who is like me, who would understand.

Jeb Alexander was a gay man who lived in Washington, D.C., during the first half of the twentieth century. From 1918, when he was nineteen years old, until the late 1950s, he chronicled his daily life engagingly and unsparingly, leaving behind a unique record of ordinary gay life before Stonewall, a history that has remained largely hidden until now.

Jeb came of age as the century did, witnessing and recording political and social change from the position of insider as an editor for the U.S. Government and outsider as a gay man. Painfully shy, and frustrated in his ambition to be a novelist by writer's block, Jeb turned to his diary as a way of expressing himself as well as recording events, creating a full emotional self-portrait and unforgettable sketches of the men who made up his lively circle of friends.
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