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Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir Paperback – May 15, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299200140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299200145
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Faderman (To Believe in Women) is well known as the foremother of gay and lesbian studies, few would suspect she was the illegitimate child of a guilt-obsessed single mother, that she tried to please her mom by becoming a movie star or that she worked her way through college as a pin-up girl. Faderman's mother and aunt left Latvia in 1923 to work in New York and send back money to their family. They did, but neither could save their loved ones from Hitler's Holocaust, which tormented Faderman's mother endlessly. Mother and daughter moved to Los Angeles, where they supported each other's fragile mental health with a single dream: Lillian could become a movie star. She took acting classes, suffered various crushes and even endured advances by her mother's suitors, all in a blind stumble to find herself, or at least to escape the burden of her mother's unhappiness. While a guidance counselor steered Lillian back to school, she still had to fumble her own way to a sexual identity. Pre-liberation, this meant cop hassles, job paranoia and fake marriages to gay men, as well as the usual broken hearts. Still, by the end, Faderman became a bigwig at Cal State, with a baby and a lover and a gay studies program. Exceedingly honest, endearing and profound, Faderman truly shows readers the distance she's traveled, from "little momzer" to esteemed academic.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An award-winning scholar in gay/lesbian studies, Faderman recounts her early life as the only child of an unmarried Jewish woman whose family perished in the Holocaust.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Lillian Faderman is the author of "My Mother's Wars" (Beacon Press, 2013). She is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as of ethnic and immigrant history. She is the author of such acclaimed works as To Believe in Woman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Surpassing the Love of Men, I Begin My Life All Over, and her memoir Naked in the Promised Land.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Phyllis Irwin, 2012.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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"Naked" is a terrific book and an engaging reading experience.
Reader
I'm a voracious reader --- and a lesbian --- and I know the differences between pretty good, good, and *very* good writing.
"pirie2"
I bought this book the first day it hit the shelf and read it from cover to cover and wished it would not end.
M. Harwick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Hot Mama on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I finally snagged a copy of the book and did not put it down to do anything but eat and sleep. As a young lesbian who is not nearly thankful enough for her older lesbian sisters, I could not believe what Lillian went through in her life.
A few people have summarized the book, but I'll tell you what had me glued to the pages: Lillian's determination. She always succeeded whether she was trying to become a movie star, get better grades in high school, trick a strip club into believing she was famous (and therefore making more money), make her mother and aunt believe she was straight, get her PhD, move up the ranks at a university, come out as a lesbian and lesbian mom, and become a world-renown author.
She was a pioneer, believing in herself when there was no guarantee that she would succeed. She hoped for the best, worked hard, and managed to change higher education all over the country. Thank you, Lillian!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding personal memoir and documentary of mid-twentieth century lesbian life. Faderman's autobiography is an essential accompaniment to her lesbian history books. As a young lesbian, this book has given me a much deeper insight into life "before Stonewall" and during the earliest stages of the gay rights and women's lib movements. The writing itself *glows* and is far more powerful than any novel that I have read in a long time. This book is an absolute must-read for any lesbian, and will be an enlightening journey for any reader, gay or straight or anywhere in between.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Talia Carner on March 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Faderman's story could have been a riveting novel, except that the series of events would have stretched our incredulity for its bigger-than-life experiences that could only be believed in the real world, not in fiction.

Lillian goes through derivatives of her name as Lil or Lily, with each name representing a phase in her turbulent life. She tells the extraordinary story of growing as a very poor girl to an unwed mother who had made a series of very poor choices she lives to regret. These life changing decisions haunt not only the mother, who is given to bouts of depression and temporary loss of her faculties, but deeply affect her daughter's life and choices.

From struggling to become an talented actress with "a bad face, a good body," to become a sex model--at fourteen--to older men with cameras shooting her photographs for their private pleasure, Lillian's freefall is almost certain. But in a last moment stroke of realization--supported by an encouraging teacher--she returns to high school.

In years to come, as Lillian holds on by her teeth to her continuing education, she continues to make ends meet as a pin-up model. The minimum wage in the 50s and 60s in more conventional occupations is way below living wages. (The author saves herself no embarrassment as she peppers the book with actual photographs of her naked poses.) At the same time, never doubting her homosexual makeup, she falls in and out of relationships, most of which start great, last for a good while, then wither away. All the while Lillian puts out a semi-respectable front for the sake of her mother and aunt, including marrying a gay man and later dating a straight man.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Harwick on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I wonder if other men love this book like I do. I loaned this book to someone then forgot whom I loaned it to. Doesn't matter. I've thought about this story a thousand times.

I love my own mother deeply, tenderly, but if I could have chosen my own mother, notwithstanding some very tempting candidates out there, Lillian Faderman would have been numero uno. I'll say it. I'm a softie for strong character; people who have been dragged through the muck and not only survived, but emerged from the pure hell of life to bring honor to themselves and to those who have struggled for the right to their own dignity.

I bought this book the first day it hit the shelf and read it from cover to cover and wished it would not end. I wanted to read it and I didn't want to read it because I've spent maybe two decades sculpting and perfecting this pedastal I've had Lillian Faderman on and I was worried that she would demolish it by turning out to be a prep school and legacy brat from the suburbs. No danger here.

Everything I know about the real lives of lesbians I learned from Dr. Faderman and, I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd enjoy anything else after Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." I read Radclyffe Hall's "The Well of Lonliness" and was sickened by it's twisted logic and it stamp of approval from kook psychologist Havelock Ellis. I thought Gertude Stein's "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" merited points for chutzpah. But Stein, Hall and Angelou are no Lillian Faderman.

This book is rich with terror, heartbreak, despair, grief and finally - triumph. It's what "Brokeback Mountain" should have been rather than another story about how a homosexual dies or gets murdered in the end.

I've changed my mind. It does matter. Whoever has my copy of this book - GIVE IT BACK !
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "pirie2" on January 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'm a voracious reader --- and a lesbian --- and I know the differences between pretty good, good, and *very* good writing. And I'm a staunch fan of Faderman's books, rushing to buy each time this prolific writer publishes another. It's really not too much to say that starting with her ground-breaking `Surpassing The Love Of Men', Lillian Faderman has literally created recognizable modern "lesbian scholarship", and spent a lifetime dragging, pushing, and willing the subject of love between women into the category of "academic respectability". (What university, including the majors, doesn't have its women's studies, gay and lesbian studies, and gay and lesbian student groups? *Yale* has even given her a prestigious award for lesbian scholarship --- which means that Yale now not only recognizes the brilliance of her work, but the academic validity of lesbian studies. How important that is to a group that has been denied legitimization for so long! And how many scholars now owe their careers to her?)
The personal help and self-esteem her work and those classes and student groups have given countless women can never be known.
As to style, while her research is impeccable and her intellect is beyond brilliant, Faderman has always had the knack of being able to thread that difficult cat-dance between dry academic writing and "the other kind"; it takes a *very* good writer to write serious books that are enjoyable to read for the sheer pleasure of their writing as well as for the information they contain and the theories they propound. A *very* good writer; I didn't think she could do any better.
But in `Naked In the Promised Land', something's happened to Faderman's writing. Some major breakthrough. Some evolutionary step. Some quantum leap. It is instantly recognizable.
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