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Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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"Mr. Frank has also been offering succinct five-minute synopses of his argument as he makes the rounds of the talk show circuit. So why does his book, “Unfriendly Fire,” need nearly 300 pages of text to make the same relatively simple points? Because he makes them so discerningly, so substantively and so well....“Unfriendly Fire” offers a sharp, vigorously framed analysis of this state of affairs....
“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.
Top customer reviews
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.
This is an unusually timely and reflective work and I highly recommend it. It should be required reading for every man and woman in the military as I sincerely wish that "Don't ask, don't tell" soon becomes a relic of the past.
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.