A romantic, exquisite history of gay culture.




A century and a half of Brooklyn’s queer history.

A longtime Brooklyn resident and founder of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, Ryan pinpoints the establishment of a homosexual presence there in the mid-1800s with the publication of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and the development of the area as a major port. Around the turn of the century the proliferation of print media and theatrical performances ushered in a new wave of alternative entertainment and modernized ideas of sexuality. The author pays homage to this era by spotlighting such entertainers as black singer and drag king Florence Hines and “gender-deviant” male impersonator Ella Wesner, who “was praised for offering top-to-toe looks that didn’t simply use tailored, masculine-esque clothing to show off her female form.” Yet as this visibility increased, so did factions of detractors who called homosexuality immoral and criminal. However, as Brooklyn’s population bloomed, so did its ever evolving queer presence, especially in the 1920s, even while police continued to arrest people for cross-dressing. Employing a dynamic combination of meticulous research and impassioned prose, Ryan familiarizes readers with the precarious post–Prohibition-era atmosphere before moving on to World War II, when control and arrests of queer Americans precipitated a great vanishing of the culture in Brooklyn and beyond. The author insists on its overdue appreciation, and he offers a richly evocative chronicle filled with notable queer game-changers. “If this history shows one thing,” he writes, “it is the resourcefulness of queer desire, which found ways to express itself long before America even had words for it. With the dawn of the new millennium, queer Brooklyn has rebounded with a fierceness and a cultural relevance that threatens at times to outshine Manhattan.” With a sharp eye for detail and a knack for vivid re-creations, Ryan eloquently contributes to an “old queer history” he believes has become needlessly “piecemeal and canonless.”

A romantic, exquisite history of gay culture.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16991-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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