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Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“As popular history, Victory excels. Hirshman is a nimble storyteller with an agile curatorial eye for what matters. . . . Exemplary. . . . I find Victory to be an astute jolt, as remarkable for its emotional punch as for its historical insight.” (Rich Benjamin, New York Times Book Review)

“Hirshman has produced a remarkable history of the gay-rights movement in America by chronicling many of the people and events that shaped it. She has a smart and engaging style, which is serious but not ponderous. . . . with new clarity and simple, fresh insight.” (NewYorker.com)

“Sharp and cogent throughout. . . . Victory is ultimately a deeply moving narrative of a not-quite-finished freedom struggle.” (Boston Globe)

“Given that the gay rights saga is very much in process, the ending of Hirshman’s book is a cliffhanger, but she does a masterful job of making her readers, whether they’re familiar with the material or not, want to know what happens next.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Exhilarating. . . . As an overview of recent American LGBT history, Victory has plenty to recommend it. . . . A good starting point for learning about recent gay history.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Victory is one of the most important (and readable) gay-history texts around.” (Philadelphia City Paper)

“An inclusive, fascinating history of the gay rights movement that provides fertile grounds for passionate debate.” (Shelf Awareness)

“An astonishing work that seamlessly weaves together multiple stories into one authoritative volume. Highly recommended for political scientists, civil rights activists, and students of LGBT history.” (Library Journal (starred review))

Victory tells the fascinating inside story of how gay activists changed America for the better, not just for themselves but for everyone. There’s inspiration here for everyone who wants a fairer, more equal society-- and plenty of hope as well.” (Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist)

“Linda Hirshman has written an important and necessary book that should be read in every school and every home in the country.” (Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire)

“Hirshman . . . offers perceptive comparisons between the gay-rights movement and other, concurrent movements for equality.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This exuberant history of arguably the final and most difficult civil rights struggle relates, in surprisingly upbeat fashion, the fight ‘to slowly bend the arc of history toward justice’ for gay men and women. . . . Undeniably inspiring.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Before he died, gay rights hero Arthur Evans told Linda Hirshman to tell our story. And she does so brilliantly--with insight, passion and the keen eye of a fierce social scientist. And what a story it is! Arthur Evans would be proud.” (Eric Marcus, author of Making Gay History and What If Someone I Know Is Gay?)

“I picked this book up one night and never got to sleep. Victory is an epic account of our movement’s progress; a beautifully written and fast moving narrative that is poignant, humorous, and inspiring.” (Cleve Jones, Founder of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt)

“Linda Hirshman’s Victory is the chronicle that the brilliant, unremitting gay movement deserves. Deeply informed with human detail, political theory, and legal analysis alike, it moves fluidly out of the closet to the precincts . . . A genuine, sparkling tour de force.” (Todd Gitlin, author of Occupy Nation)

“A compulsively readable mix of philosophy, social history and journalism, Hirshman’s [book] provides an invaluable understanding of the people across the years who have worked so passionately to increase liberty and justice in our union.” (Rebecca Traister, author of Big Girls Don't Cry)

“Hirshman has done a great service in putting the question of morality in this movement on the table. Though important chapters are yet to be written, this book will help the world to see that gay is good-and getting better.” (Slate)

“Victory’s tone is thoughtful and modest, exploring large themes through individuals’ stories. . . . The book gives a moving picture of a history many won’t know.” (American Prospect)

“Her analysis of what makes social movements succeed is always thoughtful and sometimes profound. . . . The result is always entertaining and frequently exhilarating.” (BusinessWeek)

“Hirshman provides an excellent and very readable history that is buttressed by an impressive amount of research and personal interviews. (Edge)

“Linda Hirshman delivers a vivid history of a movement that was invented, out of nothing, circa 1950. . . . One advantage of Hirshman’s book-breezily written, but kinetic in its storytelling-is that it honors the activism of the pre-Stonewall era.” (The New Yorker)

From the Back Cover

A Supreme Court lawyer and political pundit details the enthralling and groundbreaking story of the gay rights movement, revealing how a dedicated and resourceful minority changed America forever.

When the modern struggle for gay rights erupted—most notably at a bar called Stonewall in Greenwich Village—in the summer of 1969, most religious traditions condemned homosexuality; psychiatric experts labeled people who were attracted to others of the same sex "crazy"; and forty-nine states outlawed sex between people of the same gender. Four decades later, in June 2011, New York legalized gay marriage—the most populous state in the country to do so thus far. The armed services stopped enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending a law that had long discriminated against gay and lesbian members of the military. Successful social movements are always extraordinary, but these advances were something of a miracle.

Political columnist Linda Hirshman recountsthe long roads that led to these victories, viewing the gay rights movement within the tradition of American freedom as the third great modern social-justice movement, alongside the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement. Drawing on an abundance of published and archival material, and hundreds of in-depth interviews, Hirshman shows, in this astute political analysis, how the fight for gay rights has changed the American landscape for all citizens—blurring rigid gender lines, altering the shared culture, and broadening our definitions of family.

From the Communist cross-dresser Harry Hay in 1948 to New York's visionary senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010, the story includes dozens of brilliant, idiosyncratic characters. Written in vivid prose, at once emotional and erudite, Victory is an utterly vibrant work of reportage and eyewitness accounts, revealing how, in a matter of decades, while facing every social adversary—church, state, and medical establishment—a focused group of activists forged a classic campaign for cultural change that will serve as a model for all future political movements.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; F First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061965502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061965500
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DJY51 VINE VOICE on June 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was appalled at my ignorance about the struggles gay people endured throughout the history of our country, and even what went on in the past forty years. Sure I knew sodomy was illegal in some states. But I had basically thought, so what? So is intercourse in any position other than the missionary position in some states. Little did I know that people were actually arrested while engaging in their own, mutually consensual acts.
One of the stories that is discussed in detail is how Ronald Reagan's opposition to the Briggs Initiative, which would have kept gays from working in California's public schools, helped defeat it. Yet Reagan was irresponsible when it came to addressing the AIDS crisis. As was, Mayor Koch. What happens to people when they are in public office that keeps them from exhibiting basic human decency? I actually thought I knew something about the gay struggles in the 80s. My ignorance, despite losing three friends to AIDS, including my best friend, is appalling.
For many years I've argued that the Gay Pride Parade was ridiculous. People should be proud of what they do, not who they are. I'm not proud of being heterosexual. I just am. I'm proud of (some of) my choices. But as I read this book and learned how serious and rampant prejudice was, I understand it more. And feel incredibly embarrassed.
I learned about a US Supreme Court Decision, Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), which was so awful I don't feel comfortable mentioning what it said, but I do believe the justices who are still alive who voted for it should be impeached and removed from their positions.
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Format: Hardcover

This book tells me that we queers are so falling behind, so getting coopted by straight white hegemonists,

Linda Hirshman authored a book that she entitled Victory, The Triumphant Gay Revolution, How a Despised Minority Pushed Back, Beat Death, Found Love, and Changed America for Everyone.

Sound too good to be true? It is too good to be true. Hate crimes have gone up every year from 14% in 2004 to 19% in 2009. Where, then, is this beating of death? Just this morning my friend phoned me that a young teen was sitting on the curb of her nice neighborhood with a busted up face. Some boys in his CHURCH didn't like his perceived faggotry. We certainly cannot declare that we've found love, or changed America. To say such a thing in a book that appears to be "on the side of the homosexuals" is more than misleading. It is dangerous.

Victory does raise an important issue. In order for GLBT triumph, American core values of "morality, sanity, and loyalty" have to change. That is something that needs to be said. To say that they have changed is tantamount to abandoning the fight when we most need to stay engaged. Why would anyone do that?

The book does give someone without any background in homosexual history an overview. However, for those completely in the dark, the 348 pages of glib-sounding account of homosexuality appear as mainly an urban, male, phenomena. Where are the dykes, the trans, the poor, the rural, and the blacks, the hispanics, the asians? Also there is a class bias in this book. The successful people Hirshman focuses on always move to the right and just want inclusion and their piece of gentrification. They drop the concerns of the marginalized. The drop the concerns of organized labor, or the anti-war movements, or public services.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you follow the news, you know how Victory ends. The U.S. Senate passes DADT repeal in the 2010 lame-duck session. New York's Senate passes marriage equality on the last day of its 2011 session. In 2012, support for marriage equality crosses the 50% barrier in opinion polling. The book's title may be premature, but the bend in the arc of history seems clear.

What you may not know, what Linda Hirshman makes vivid by weaving together the personal tales of various gay men and lesbians from the past 100 years, is the distance the gay rights movement had to travel to arrive, today, at the doorstep of legal equality. Hirshman starts from the beginning, with young men and women moving to cities in the early 1900s and finding, for the first time, clusters of other people just like them. Over the ensuing decades, she chronicles their joy of discovery, their fear of being discovered, their self-organization to respond to threats to their lives and livelihoods, and, eventually, their upending of what it meant to be a good American, reframing morality and the standards of citizenship so they could embrace gays and lesbians. The reader sees the progress, made in fits and starts and in many different places, come together in a way that the movement's alphabet soup of organizations may obscure -- HRC, SLDN, GLAAD, Lambda Legal and the rest are all natural outgrowths of the very first living-room meetings when gays and lesbians began to discuss the rights they were surely entitled to and formulate the legal and moral theories that would underpin their eventual success in claiming those rights. Hirshman shows how the work of all of these groups, of activists across the country, undergirds the progress the community as a whole has made.
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