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Publisher's Summary

Winner of a 2012 Stonewall Book Award in nonfiction

The first book to cover the entirety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from pre-1492 to the present.  

In the 1620s, Thomas Morton broke from Plymouth Colony and founded Merrymount, which celebrated same-sex desire, atheism, and interracial marriage. Transgender evangelist Jemima Wilkinson, in the early 1800s, changed her name to “Publick Universal Friend”, refused to use pronouns, fought for gender equality, and led her own congregation in upstate New York. In the mid-19th century, internationally famous Shakespearean actor Charlotte Cushman led an openly lesbian life, including a well-publicized “female marriage.” And in the late 1920s, Augustus Granville Dill was fired by W. E. B. Du Bois from the NAACP’s magazine the Crisis after being arrested for a homosexual encounter. These are just a few moments of queer history that Michael Bronski highlights in this groundbreaking book.  

Intellectually dynamic and endlessly provocative, A Queer History of the United States is more than a “who’s who” of queer history: it is a book that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary documents, literature, and cultural histories, noted scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s, and has written a testament to how the LGBT experience has profoundly shaped our country, culture, and history.  

A Queer History of the United States abounds with startling examples of unknown or often ignored aspects of American history - the ineffectiveness of sodomy laws in the colonies, the prevalence of cross-dressing women soldiers in the Civil War, the impact of new technologies on LGBT life in the 19th century, and how rock music and popular culture were, in large part, responsible for the devastating backlash against gay rights in the late 1970s. Most striking, Bronski documents how, over centuries, various incarnations of social purity movements have consistently attempted to regulate all sexuality, including fantasies, masturbation, and queer sex. Resisting these efforts, same-sex desire flourished and helped make America what it is today.  

At heart, A Queer History of the United States is simply about American history. It is a book that will matter both to LGBT people and heterosexuals. This engrossing and revelatory history will make listeners appreciate just how queer America really is.

©2011 Michael Bronski (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“The first book to cover all of LGBT history from 1492 through the present is Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States (Beacon Press). It is wonderfully readable and looks at the way we understand the history of the United States. The LGBT population moves from the margins to the mainstream and we see that the history of this country also is our history.” (Windy City Times)

“Bronski's book provides an excellent overview for readers new to the field of gay history. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries...” (CHOICE Magazine)

“...A succinct distillation of the history of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in America… Bronski’s impeccable research bolsters his arguments… a useful handbook for LGBT activist groups and other interested members of the gay community.” (Boston Globe)

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Nice linkage of marginalized groups

I liked how it framed "other" to include Afican Americans. The author does a good job weaving historical threads.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful