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Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America Paperback – March 2, 2010
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“Unfriendly Fire offers a sharp, vigorously framed analysis.”—The New York Times
“Unfriendly Fire reads like a crisp, confident, tightly focused legal brief appealing an unconscionable decision; pity the opposing advocate who must answer it point by point. With this book, President Obama, who pledged to scrap don’t ask, don’t tell, has an instruction manual, as well as a blooper reel for avoiding Clinton’s mistakes.”—Washington Monthly
“Why does his book, Unfriendly Fire, need nearly three hundred 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. The main attraction in Unfriendly Fire is the agility and tough-mindedness with which Mr. Frank presents his arguments.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“This new book from the academic who first broke the story about the gay Arabic translators who were thrown out of the military is the best thing ever written about Bill Clinton’s disastrous policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ ”—Columbia Journalism Review
“A meticulously argued case for the dismantling of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and for the full reversal of the ban on gay and lesbian servicemembers.”—NPR.org
“The book is a definitive addition to Allan Berube’s Coming Out Under Fire and Randy Shilts’s Conduct Unbecoming, which each focused on eras before ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ when gay soldiers were simply banned without any epistemological baggage. But Frank differs from his predecessors with his insistently critical tone and laser-like attention to the policy’s shortcomings.”—The Advocate
“Frank examines the 1993 law that bans open homosexual service in the U.S. military . . . and provides compelling evidence why the law should be repealed. . . . Unfriendly Fire is recommended reading, especially for those who proudly serve our Nation, because of its well-reasoned insights on how the current ban on homosexuals in the armed forces is currently undermining our military might.”--Military Review
“Frank tears down the pro-ban position on multiple fronts [and] builds a solid case that the ban on gays in the military is not only wrong, it is endangering the country.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Nathaniel Frank is 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. 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, Huffington Post, Newsday, 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 Ph.D. and M.A. in history at Brown University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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 pvic
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