Not without flaws, but an illuminating, worthy addition to the scholarship.




A compendium of primary sources on the historic uprising for LGBTQ liberation.

The Stonewall riots of 1969 are infamous, not only for their electrifying impact on the American LGBTQ movement, but also for their long-contested memory: “who can, who does, and who should lay claim to them”? Using more than 200 documents, editor Stein (History/San Francisco State Univ.; Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement, 2012, etc.) contextualizes the New York City rebellion of transgender and gay bar patrons against a homophobic police raid. Framed in three subdivided parts, each section contains extended excerpts of newspaper articles, fliers, court decisions, and other accounts. Together, they create a mosaic of the cultural and political realities before, during, and after the riots. The editor helpfully provides source descriptions of each section—e.g., “published originally in homophile magazines”—as well as a perceptive introduction that encourages readers to “think carefully and critically about my editorial work.” Significantly, Stein acknowledges that many of his media sources offer “limited discussion” of African-American LGBTQ experiences in their reporting, and he notes that gay rights activists were deeply indebted to black liberation movements. For example, LGBTQ people employed the “direct action tactics” of African-American organizers, “including demonstrations, sit-ins, and riots,” and popular pre-Stonewall slogans “were adaptations or appropriations of ‘Black is Beautiful’ and ‘Black Power.’ ” Stein is less successful in his interpretation of transgender history. For example, when examining police records from the first night of the Stonewall riots, Stein determines that one woman and five men were arrested, “judging by the names.” For many trans people, legal names do not provide meaningful clues to gender. On the whole, the book reflects both the brilliance and contradictions of a multifaceted history. Though people of color are notably minimized in historical records, Stein’s reflective curation is an important contribution to understanding what Stonewall was and what it represents. History students are most likely to enjoy this volume, which is arranged like a primary source textbook.

Not without flaws, but an illuminating, worthy addition to the scholarship.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4798-1685-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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