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Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America Paperback – June 5, 2001


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Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America + The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government + Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: Second Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684867435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684867434
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writing about events within living memory is one of the hardest tasks for a historian--there is too much information, too many perspectives. The authors of Out for Good, both writers for the New York Times, not only drew on extensive archival records but conducted nearly 700 interviews with the founders and opponents of the early gay rights movement. That they have been able to shape this unruly material into a convincing narrative is impressive enough--yet they have also managed to write one of the most dramatic and beautifully structured histories in recent years.

Starting with the almost accidental Stonewall riots in 1969 and shifting between key cities and events, they track what they describe as "the last great struggle for equal rights in American history." For homophile activists of the 1950s and early 1960s, that struggle had been about being left alone by police and politicians, but for those gathering to protest Stonewall, it was about "defining themselves to society as gay men and lesbians." While there are many memoirs and smaller studies of the era, no other book so graciously spans the 30-year period covered here. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this sprawling, personality-driven narrative, Clendinen and Nagourney, editorial writer and reporter, respectively, for the New York Times, attempt to cover the evolution of the gay rights movement from the Stonewall riots in 1969 to the founding of ACT UP in 1987, with a brief epilogue on Clinton's election and promises to gay activists in 1992. Adopting the almost fictionalized style popularized by Randy Shilts, the authors draw on hundreds of personal interviewsAwith major gay rights activists and those who have led anti-gay crusadesAas well as gay and mainstream press accounts. Despite its ambition to make historical sense of the successes, failures and contradictions homosexuals have faced in securing gay rights, the book often falls short of conveying the complexity the material demands. While the authors show a commendable impulse to investigate such cities as Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Miami, they more often focus on the standard nexus of New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Similarly, the emphasis on prominent national groups (such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) and legislative and judicial change, rather than on the gains won by smaller grassroots efforts, doesn't always successfully encompass the broader social and political contexts in which change occurs. While it successfully delineates major themesAsuch as the tensions between assimilationist and liberation politics, between lesbians and gay men and the inevitable backlash that occurs after political gainsAand provides a good, if overly detailed, introduction to the topic, the book lacks the nuance and political insight that would have made it the definitive social and political history it aspires to be. Agent, Kathy Robbins. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Green on November 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The stories and the narrative here are great and well-explained. True, the authors don't explain much about where the characters come from and just tell us that the characters are there and deal with it. Another fault here is that the authors don't really try to carry themes through the book or explain anything within a broader picture. The entire book is in the here and now and there is no big-picture thought. It's good at what it is but I wish the authors had tried to do more. Or maybe they'll write another book...
And as always, the role of San Francisco in the GLBT movement gets short shrift. In the book's foreward the authors say that's because SF has been so well-documented. Hogwash. I can name a dozen books that have beat the NYC GLBT movement to death and only a couple about SF (most by one man).
Last comment: the authors again ignored the contributions of the various subsets of GLBT culture. In particular the authors never mention the leather community nor the drag community except in passing and as kind of footnotes to what everyone else did. That's revisionist history and gives short shrift to some of the hardest-workers in the movement. Come on guys, a leatherman started the Advocate and the first GLBT community center, for example, yet neither is mentioned in those terms.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Clark-Stanford@uiowa.edu on July 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clendinen and Nagourney have performed a detailed documentation of a period in gay history (1950s through the late 80's) with a typical emphasis during the five year period surrounding the 1969 Stonewall riot. The history serves as a rich illustration of the individuals (although lacking in academic detail as to why certain people were chosen to be highlighted and others were not). The book is based on a series of interviews made during 1993 and especially 1994, with many who are no longer living. As such, the period of time to document the interviews and then the prolonged period to get to print creates a book that while rich in period detail (1965-1975) rapidly peters out in its discussion of AIDS, election of Clinton, etc. which have greated far greater impacts on Gay rights, Gay Culture and the evolving acceptance (as slow as it is) of gay people in American society. A strong point is its balanced view and discussion of the gay movement prior to Stonewall and its attempt to demystify the importance given to this one particular event. Its discussion of the ongoing conflicts between the various social classes involved in the gay movement and showing that this was present from the very start is important for any younger gay person today trying to understand why certain onging tensions and conflicts exist in the gay community and why certain national gay rights groups exist (e.g., NGLTF, HRC, etc.).
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an unsatisfactory book, mean-spirited and inaccurate. The authors reduce the homophile (pre-Stonewall) movement, the Gay Liberation Front, and the Gay Activists Alliance to a series of petty squabbles. They utterly fail to appreciate the courage and magnanimity of the pioneers in the struggle for gay rights. They fail to convey the radical vision of GLF or the political savvy of GAA. The most important publications, activities and demonstrations are not even mentioned. People who willingly sacrificed their careers for the movement are denigrated in crass physical terms -- as "roly poly" or looking like a "string bean" or a "turtle", or having a "nasal" voice, or sounding like a "foghorn", or being "tight little-old-mannish". There are dozens and dozens of mistakes. The authors seem unaware that Morty Manford was a President of GAA. They don't know the year of the GAA fire (1974), or that GAA continued on a smaller scale for a number of years after that. Above all, the book is BORING. And whatever else you can say about the gay liberation movement of the '70s, it was not boring.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Magyar on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
As both authors are press people, it is not surprising that the most consistent criticism of this book is the lack of context and background. It is often said that news writers sacrifice the larger picture for the sake of detail. That also applies to news writers doing history.

That said, this is a damn good book, primarily because of the details. For those thinking the account is too New York centric (after all the two authors come from the New York Times), all I can say is that the contributions from places other than New York and San Francisco (such as Minnesota and Miami) are acknowledged.

However for me the biggest elephant in the room for this book is the almost total neglect of the news and popular media's role in the shaping of the gay movement. I always thought newspaper people like to talk about their business. But it seems that the authors prefer the "fly on the wall" position. And I think that is a bit dishonest.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
this is the first book i have seen that truly only focuses on the gay rights movement in the last half of the twentieth century in america. it is one of the most captivating nonfiction books i have read in a long time and i had trouble putting it down. this book is perfect for any body who has an interest in the gay rights movement... or any movement for civil rights.
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