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Publisher's Summary

During World War II, as the United States called on its citizens to serve in unprecedented numbers, the presence of gay Americans in the armed forces increasingly conflicted with the expanding anti-homosexual policies and procedures of the military. In Coming Out Under Fire, Allan Berube examines in depth and detail these social and political confrontations - not as a story of how the military victimized homosexuals, but as a story of how a dynamic power relationship developed between gay citizens and their government, transforming them both.

Drawing on GIs' wartime letters, extensive interviews with gay veterans, and declassified military documents, Berube thoughtfully constructs a startling history of the two wars gay military men and women fought - one for America and another as homosexuals within the military.

Berube's book, the inspiration for the 1995 Peabody Award-winning documentary film of the same name, has become a classic since it was published in 1990, just three years prior to the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy. With a new foreword by historians John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, this book remains a valuable contribution to the history of World War II, as well as to the ongoing debate regarding the role of gays in the U.S. military.

©1990 Allan Berube; 2010 foreword by Estelle B. Freedman and John D’Emilio (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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  • Susie
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 12-06-12

Bringing the Armed Services Out of the Closet

Berube's classic gay history expose is the book that took the Gay/Military debate out of the twilight zone and right into the White House and Pentagon.

His interviews with gay and lesbian vets of WWII will have you crying, laughing, and screaming at their audacity in the face of brutal discrimination.

I'm so pleased that this is now on Audible!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A primer for understanding our current military

This book chronicles the issues that inductees who happened to be homosexual faced when entering our military to serve our country as the United States entered the Second World War. The complete misunderstanding of the homosexual as a pervert as opposed to a minority class of people by the military is well documented here. And just as it did with Black Americans, Homosexual Americans were used when needed, then persecuted and disposed of when they were no longer needed. The results were the same: a call for militant action on the parts of both minorities to claim what was rightfully theirs and to be treated with the dignity that is expected for any American. It is still not completely there for both minorities.

Mr Bevine is an adequate narrator although he had a tendency to break his phrases poorly, which I think should have been edited and redone.

I think the book is a bit too long and Mr Berube could have said what he wanted to say in far less words and sentences.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Hidden History of WW2

If you could sum up Coming Out Under Fire in three words, what would they be?

Gays At War

What other book might you compare Coming Out Under Fire to and why?

I don't have one right now to compare it to, it's the first of its kind I've read so far. I'm sure there are others like it out, but I've not seen them yet.

Which character – as performed by Victor Bevine – was your favorite?

I liked his reading, but he seldom brought the veterans to life. Aside from that, he's a great narrator.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The individual stories, the triumphs and tragedies of love and hate during the war. It was amazing to hear this part of the wartime experience from the words of the men and women. I can't really choose, but maybe the love nests aboard Navy Ships.

Any additional comments?

I'm a combat vet myself who's hated Don't Ask Don't Tell since its inception. I'm not sure if it would've worked, to create an open environment for gays and lesbians, in the past but it's great to finally let everyone be free.
I hope more books like this come out (pun sorta intended) on audible.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeffrey
  • Austin Texas, United States
  • 02-24-14

An Expose, Shocking and Horrid Truths of WWII

This is not a story, it's a written documentary. It's unvarnished and parts of it will make you cringe and in my case, I became internally enraged at the horrid "Third Reich" bullying and outright criminal activities perpetrated by the U.S. military against gay U.S. soldiers, male and female. In the end, it is understood that this all apparently had to be, but I'll forever harbor a sense of shame for those stupid men and women who in their fear and self-perpetrated ignorance brought nothing but hatred and violence towards fellow soldiers. At any rate, it's a read that will both inform and impress. A documentary film emerged from this book, it in no way resembles this book, however.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua
  • ASBURY, NJ, United States
  • 09-28-13

More then just History

This book was so much more then just a history of gay men and women during WWII. It was a testament to where LGBT rights have been and where they are going. I was fascinated to discover that the roots of so much LGBT culture developed from the strange liberation that war time afforded some gays and lesbians. And the narrator read the book as if it were a narrative; never once did I feel like facts where just being thrown at me. I always felt engaged. If you are looking for a great new history book to read I highly recommend this one!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book

While I needed this book for history 300 I enjoyed listening and reading the book. It is extremely disturbing and depressing to know that men and women were treated in such a manner. This book is an eye opener.

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