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Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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“In 1993, when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I felt that the policy was right for the times. Frank makes a compelling case not only that there has been a shift within our society, but that the time has come to look beyond our preconceptions and focus on capabilities. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone with an interest in the state of our society or the readiness of our military.” —General John Shalikashvili, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Armed Forces
“This book lays out clearly, fairly, dispassionately, and accurately the terrible cost to our national security of this insane policy.” —Andrew Sullivan, author of The Daily Dish blog and of The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back
“Frank’s lucid and timely book should put to rest any lingering doubt about whether ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is working—it’s been a failure from day one and should finally be put behind us.” —Congressman Patrick J. Murphy, member of the House Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, and former captain in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
“Here is a book from a leading scholar that cuts through the ignorance, the denial, and the prejudice to explain how we got stuck with a policy that was doomed to fail. Our military and our nation owe Frank a debt of gratitude.” —Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan
“Frank puts a human face on the flaws in this policy.” —Marty Meehan, Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Lowell, and former congressman
“This is a valuable contribution and worthwhile reading for all who care about justice and equality. On behalf of the clients we serve and all service members who wear the uniform and must serve in silence, I salute Dr. Frank and his distinguished colleagues at the Palm Center.” —Aubrey Sarvis, Esq., Executive Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
About the Author
Nathaniel Frank is a senior research fellow at the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and teaches history on the adjunct faculty at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. His publications on gays in the military and other topics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lingua Franca, and others, and his research and opinions have been cited on the Congressional floor, in syndicated columns, in the blogosphere, the New York Post, The Advocate, National Review Online, the AP, and other venues, including university syllabi and media roundups. Frank earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Brown University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
He doesn't neglect the corollary issues: the mindset of both sides, the experience of gays in the military prior to 1993, and the experience of other militaries who lifted the ban. He helpfully lists the evidence for and against the ban, so far. (He may be one of the few to have actually _read_ the 1993 RAND study on the issue). And, he shows the anti-gay policy's contribution to pervasive male-on-female sexual harassment in the military.
He follows DADT in subsequent years, and it's a complicated story: I knew how "Don't Ask" became "Search and Destroy" in some commands, but hadn't heard, till now, of how many gay soldiers stayed on and continued serving well.
Mr. Frank could have, I suppose, made more of the impact this had on Bill Clinton's ability to act as Commander in Chief. This spat may have had something to do with his weak initial response to the Balkan wars from 1993 on. Certainly, the RAND study said that the gay ban would have fallen if the military thought Bill Clinton meant it. But, this a minor quibble.
Indeed, Mr. Frank does show how, with the military wearing out its active and Reserve forces with second, third, and fourth tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He not only shows how personnel needs got so dire that the military was recruiting poor-quality, even ex-felon, soldiers, but shows the mayhem that would cause.Read more ›
It was a wrong, bad idea, which could never have worked. And the cost of trying to make it work has been high upon our military, whose service to our nation we should be trying to make easier, not impeding.
This book has the human stories, but it also has the numbers, combined together to reach an irrefutable conclusion:
The gay ban needs to be lifted, and lifted now.
Dr. Frank has written a truly admirable work - complete, compelling, and convincing. It should be mandatory reading for military and Congressional leaders. DADT will be repealed only when our leaders come to understand its history and its results, and dispel the pervasive myths surrounding gay military service. This book is the tool they need.
Pace Dr. Frank, though, not all proponents of DADT are bigots. I think most simply subscribe to the "conventional wisdom" of the past and wrongly see repeal -- especially in wartime -- as a risky and imprudent leap into the unknown. It is those decisionmakers and influencers who, above all, need to read and internalize the message of this fine book.
Repealing the DADT law and other barriers will not be easy. I believe President Obama will address these issues in due time, but I applaud and encourage his caution. DADT became Federal law, instead of mere policy, because the Clinton administration underestimated the difficulty and made the classic rookie bridge mistake of failing to clear trumps. Nor can we simply ignore the religious right, well represented in today's armed forces. Our country can ill afford to lose this battle again through excessive haste.
Frank underscores how much the United States has changed in its collective views on homosexuality since the policy went into effect, and this, perhaps more than anything else, will one day very soon overturn it. But the narrative of "Unfriendly Fire" takes us through the entire fifteen-year course...from Sam Nunn's pre-determined Senate hearings and the weak response by the new Clinton administration...to the testimonies at present of the men and women in uniform....straight and gay...regarding their attitudes towards serving with each other and the tight cohesiveness of their units which is tantamount to military success.
Perhaps it really took wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to let in the light about gay service, especially after many thousands of gays were tossed out of the military at a time when their service was desperately needed. Frank really hits home when he describes the loss of translators...without replacements...and what that did to the units who lost those people. As a further point he tells of convicted felons being allowed in to beef up "the numbers".
"Unfriendly Fire" ends on an upbeat note, reflecting the positive change in attitudes of both military and non-military people who look at the gay ban today. Yet I couldn't help but wonder if men and women in uniform might be subject to dismissal just for reading Frank's book. I hope not.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best book on this subject. Essential reading. Really well researched, and a good read, too. Every library should have a copy.Published on November 27, 2013 by Dave Cullen
'Got it on time and the book is of good quality. It looks like it's been shelved for many years, but I don't blame the seller - this is such a niche market book. Read morePublished on December 10, 2012 by Rui
It was for an essay that i had to write, one of my four sources. It was ok, kinda boring. IMO it was pretty biased.Published on January 23, 2011 by Ira
This book is definitely pro-gay. It distorts, misinterprets and skews facts to its advantage. Definitely one-sided. To be read with a grain of salt as to its accuracy and value.Published on April 27, 2010 by Paul L. Vicalvi
Examining the military's own record, Nathaniel Frank makes the tight case that 'don't ask don't tell' has ultimately undercut the military's effectiveness and readiness. Read morePublished on March 28, 2010 by Robin Orlowski
The notes on the Kindle edition of this book are not linked, which is highly annoying. I have not finished reading the book, so I am not rating or reviewing the content, only the... Read morePublished on February 22, 2010 by Abby
I was hoping this book would once and for all make me decide how I think about this important issue, but it really didn't. Read morePublished on September 27, 2009 by So. Calif book reader
for the intellectual and for the pleasure reader who is unaware of the dont ask dont tell policy of the clinton administration. Read morePublished on July 22, 2009 by A. Lopez