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Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution Hardcover – June 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312200250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312200251
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the centerpiece here is undoubtedly his hour-by-hour relating of the explosive June 1969 riots, Carter, an editor of Allen Ginsberg's interviews (Spontaneous Mind, 20o1), also provides an extended prelude that highlights the places, activists and others who come to play key roles. Carter's beloved Greenwich Village and what he calls its "queer geography," which enabled gay culture to form, flourish and consolidate itself, emerges as an inimitable, finely detailed hero. But for Carter, the most audacious, energetic and enterprising of riot participants were the drag queens, homeless queer youths and other gender transgressors whose position on the farthest margins of society enabled their radical response to oppression. What they and others managed to do, Carter renders with fresh care and enthusiasm, getting new quotes and offering unfamiliar perspectives, such as the Mafia's role both as a patron of the gay scene in New York City (including the Stonewall Inn, which it owned and operated) and as a blackmailer of famous homosexuals. He ends appropriately with the emergence of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance, as well as the first gay pride parade, held in June 1970. While it may distract readers interested only in the story of gay liberation, Carter's logistical history of what gay author Edmund White called "our Bastille Day" will become a permanent addition to the great histories of the civil rights era.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the late 1960s, homosexual sex was illegal in every state but Illinois; now the news routinely covers the latest on gay marriages. So the subtitle says it all--or does it? The six days of riots sparked by police action in the early morning of June 28, 1969, against a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, constituted a homosexual "shot heard 'round the world" that transformed an American subculture. Carter's carefully researched, well-crafted writing portrays Stonewall as part of a larger civil and human rights movement and a spur to the gay rights movement. Stonewall precipitated great change--the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance, for instance--and that leads Carter to examine the socio-politico-cultural convergence that resulted in the riots. Hundred of interviews figure into Carter's thorough exploration that dispels long-held myths and provides fresh facts about a freedom fight some liken to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It is a very powerful saga, and Carter tells it well.
Bruce Frier
Carter's book is the essential work on an important historical event.
R. Hardy
A detailed and excellent history of pre and post Stonewall Riots.
John A. Gregorio

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In the old days (and some would insist they were the good old days) homosexuals were subject to dismissal just because of sexual preference. Sexual acts between members of the same sex were specifically illegal, and cops would bait homosexuals to see if they were interested in such acts. Professionals who were found to be homosexuals lost their licenses. Homosexuality was a diagnosable psychiatric illness. A consensual homosexual act could get even life imprisonment, and a risk of castration. There may still be discrimination against gays in many ways, but some are now even legally married; societal acceptance is not total, but it is vastly better than it was on 28 June 1969. That date, regarded as epochal by homosexuals insisting on their civil rights, saw the Stonewall uprising; in _Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution_ (St. Martin's Press), David Carter has given a spectacularly detailed and well-researched history of an event that has been often misunderstood even by those interested in the history of the gay civil rights movement.
In the sixties, Greenwich Village was a center for homosexual life; the bohemian residents were simply more accepting of unusual behavior. Within Greenwich, the Stonewall Inn was one of the gathering places especially for male homosexuals. The ambience was "trashy, low, and tawdry," but unpretentious, and all from any margins (including the exaggeratedly effeminate men who were a fashion at the time) were free to go there without risk of feeling alienated. Patrons and the bar staff accepted that the place was going to get raided. Police thought of gays as easy targets in their humiliating sweeps of the bar.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matt Bailey on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While the title of the book is, of course, STONEWALL, and a large portion of the book is devoted to an almost minute-by-minute account of the fabled riots, Carter also takes considerable care in detailing all of the many contributing factors that led to the revolt against the police (debunking the ludicrous "because Judy Garland died" myth in the process) as well as the activism of several newly-founded gay groups that resulted from the action. The book is meticulously researched and footnoted and should stand as the definitive account of the subject for a good length of time to come. It took Carter ten years to write the book; it was ten years well spent.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Frier on January 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Stonewall riots, beginning on June 27, 1969, in and around the Stonewall Inn in lower Manhattan, are pivotal at least in memory because they galvanized the gay liberation movement, which in the last generation has profoundly altered social attitudes toward gays and lesbians. The story is therefore well worth telling in itself, and particularly so since the original event has gradually become the subject of legend; further, the number of eyewitnesses who still survive is now beginning to dwindle.

Carter's narrative is very wide sweeping, particularly as to the background of the riots: the extensive persecution of gays in the 1950s and 1960s both nation-wide and in New York; the emergence of seedy Mafia-owned bars, such as the Stonewall, as a place of refuge; the incipient pre-Stonewall gay rights coalitions in New York and in San Francisco and Los Angeles; and so on. But Carter is also extremely sensitive to the individual stories of gays who migrated to large cities seeking at least a measure of freedom.

Carter's narrative, particularly of the riots, is not at all triumphalistic, nor is it weighted unfairly against the police and city authorities (who, even on the most neutral account, do not come off well). Often the narrative disintegrates into short bursts of conflicting story-telling from various viewpoints, but this just feeds the excitement. It is a very powerful saga, and Carter tells it well.

This book was helpful to me even though I lived through the riots; like many others, I'd bought into much of the false mythology about what happened that night. But it will be especially attractive to anyone who came of age after 1969, and who wants to know something about what the pre-Stonewall era is like.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By South End observer on May 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Stonewall Riots of June 28-July 3, 1969, following a police raid on an illegal, mafia-owned gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, mark the decisive turning point in gay American history. The unprecedented uprising has taken on mythic dimension over the succeeding 35 years. Author and eyewitness Edmund White has compared Stonewall to the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Community lore has focused on colorful aspects of the melee, like the wresting of a parking meter from a sidewalk for use as a battering ram against police, the contemporaneous passing of Judy Garland, and the Rockette-style street theater participants used as a campy rebuke to the authorities. Yet given a lack of narrative detail about the events of the riots, Stonewall has become a metaphor for gay liberation while remaining vaguely understood.

Previous accounts of Stonewall, in the gay and mainstream press, and in Martin Duberman's 1992 book Stonewall, have suffered from the paucity of the historical record of the riots themselves. There is no film of the riots, and only one "frontline" picture survives from the critical night of June 28, 1969. Moreover the Sheridan Square area of New York where the riot was centered affords few vantage points from which crowd activity could be seen in overview. The insignificant press items from the time are bias-ridden and controverted in key particulars. Reconstruction would be impossible since the police lost the initiative soon after the raid, and there was no gay guerilla leader orchestrating the assault from "our " side according to some strategic plan. Given the dearth of historical data, the feature film Stonewall purported merely to be one queen's story, and is fictionalized at that.
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