COMING OUT CONSERVATIVE by Marvin Liebman

COMING OUT CONSERVATIVE

An Autobiography
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An eventful, stylish, sometimes painful memoir by right-wing agitator Liebman. Liebman grew up in Brooklyn as a youthful Communist. But when his hero, onetime Communist Party (USA) chairman Earl Browder, was purged, he turned to the right; and when news of Soviet labor camps broke, Liebman started using techniques he'd learned from the left to mobilize Republicans. He founded Young Americans for Freedom, and the Committee of One Million, which kept Communist China out of the UN for almost 20 years. Liebman is gay, and his story is in large part about his struggle to accept his sexual orientation. In 1990, he ``came out'' in the pages of his friend William F. Buckley's National Review. Here, Liebman expresses deep concern that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, conservatives are increasingly turning to ``hate politics''--including gay-bashing-- to polarize voters. He argues that, instead, it's the idea of the primacy of the individual over the state that should draw people, including gays, to conservatism. Liebman has lived an eventful life. He's been interned in a British camp for Jewish refugees to Palestine; spent his birthday singing Andrews Sisters songs atop a bombed-out Naples orphanage; and taken time off from politics to become a theatrical producer in London. He's also hobnobbed with the celebrated: ``Bill'' Buckley and his wife Pat appear regularly here, while Ronald Reagan confides his fear that dancers are ``funny.'' And around 1950, we learn, Liebman took a young actress named Nancy Davis--the future First Lady--out to Barney's Beanery in Hollywood (``She was rather square and not very interested in politics''). AndrÇ Gide and Sir James Goldsmith make cameo appearances, and, finally, there's Clare Booth Luce, who, Liebman alleges, said she once ``tried it'' with another woman but found it ``rather messy.'' An absorbing, occasionally awkward book given resonance by the author's struggle with--and final acceptance of--his homosexuality. (Sixteen pages of photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8118-0073-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992