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Stonewall Paperback – 23 Jun 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: GRIFFIN; 2 Mti edition (23 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312671938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312671938
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
In the late 1960s, Tony Lauria, known to his friends and associates as Fat Tony, the son of an important Mafioso named Ernie, decided top open a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Read the first page
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidd on 29 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It strikes me that it is important to understand the history to the gay rights movement and why it is that the UK organisation supporting LGB people and issues calls itself Stonewall. A very interesting and detailed account of the issues and tensions that sparked the civil rights movement for LGBT people all over the world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very well researched, detailed description of the Stonewall riots in June 1969, the situation before and the effects after it. Even the notes are worth to be read. A must for any gay emancipation defender and militant gay!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The Definitive History of the Spark to Gay Rights 25 Jun. 2004
By Rob Hardy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In the old days (and some would insist they were the good old days) homosexuals were subject to dismissal just because of sexual preference. Sexual acts between members of the same sex were specifically illegal, and cops would bait homosexuals to see if they were interested in such acts. Professionals who were found to be homosexuals lost their licenses. Homosexuality was a diagnosable psychiatric illness. A consensual homosexual act could get even life imprisonment, and a risk of castration. There may still be discrimination against gays in many ways, but some are now even legally married; societal acceptance is not total, but it is vastly better than it was on 28 June 1969. That date, regarded as epochal by homosexuals insisting on their civil rights, saw the Stonewall uprising; in _Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution_ (St. Martin's Press), David Carter has given a spectacularly detailed and well-researched history of an event that has been often misunderstood even by those interested in the history of the gay civil rights movement.
In the sixties, Greenwich Village was a center for homosexual life; the bohemian residents were simply more accepting of unusual behavior. Within Greenwich, the Stonewall Inn was one of the gathering places especially for male homosexuals. The ambience was "trashy, low, and tawdry," but unpretentious, and all from any margins (including the exaggeratedly effeminate men who were a fashion at the time) were free to go there without risk of feeling alienated. Patrons and the bar staff accepted that the place was going to get raided. Police thought of gays as easy targets in their humiliating sweeps of the bar. Carter is careful to show that the confrontation that night was somewhere between inevitable and fortuitous, but what set the crowd off was a lesbian resisting arrest and being beaten. The initial response was tentative; one man could stand it no longer and yelled, "Gay Power!" only to be shushed by his partner. The cry, however, was taken up, and the outcasts stirred into action. The chapters of the book dealing with the riot itself are often tense, with the police being forced back into Stonewall and barricading themselves in, and the gays outside pounding the heavy doors with a parking meter while chanting "Liberate the bar!" Many who were there shared the view of one participant, who called the newspapers during the riot: "I immediately knew this was the spark we had been waiting for for years."
Carter details the changes in attitude that came after the riots, fostered by the too-inclusive Gay Liberation Front through the more successful Gay Activist Alliance. Political action, confrontation, and street theater were taken up by a group of citizens that had previously kept covert ways. Having shown up at the scene of the riot to see what all the fuss was about, Allen Ginsberg himself said of the participants, comparing them to homosexuals a decade before, "They've lost that wounded look." Carter clears up myths that have grown up around the event. It was reported, for instance, that the rioters breaking back into the bar where the police were besieged were merely trying to get back in and party. There was a further widely reported story that the riots were in response to the funeral the day before of Judy Garland, an idol to some gays. These stories represent the sort of trivialization that society might well attempt to impose on a revolution that it found unwelcome. The revolution isn't complete, but at Stonewall the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights got a real political start. Carter's book is the essential work on an important historical event.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Not just about Stonewall 13 Oct. 2004
By Matt Bailey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While the title of the book is, of course, STONEWALL, and a large portion of the book is devoted to an almost minute-by-minute account of the fabled riots, Carter also takes considerable care in detailing all of the many contributing factors that led to the revolt against the police (debunking the ludicrous "because Judy Garland died" myth in the process) as well as the activism of several newly-founded gay groups that resulted from the action. The book is meticulously researched and footnoted and should stand as the definitive account of the subject for a good length of time to come. It took Carter ten years to write the book; it was ten years well spent.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Pivotal Event 27 Jan. 2005
By Bruce Frier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Stonewall riots, beginning on June 27, 1969, in and around the Stonewall Inn in lower Manhattan, are pivotal at least in memory because they galvanized the gay liberation movement, which in the last generation has profoundly altered social attitudes toward gays and lesbians. The story is therefore well worth telling in itself, and particularly so since the original event has gradually become the subject of legend; further, the number of eyewitnesses who still survive is now beginning to dwindle.

Carter's narrative is very wide sweeping, particularly as to the background of the riots: the extensive persecution of gays in the 1950s and 1960s both nation-wide and in New York; the emergence of seedy Mafia-owned bars, such as the Stonewall, as a place of refuge; the incipient pre-Stonewall gay rights coalitions in New York and in San Francisco and Los Angeles; and so on. But Carter is also extremely sensitive to the individual stories of gays who migrated to large cities seeking at least a measure of freedom.

Carter's narrative, particularly of the riots, is not at all triumphalistic, nor is it weighted unfairly against the police and city authorities (who, even on the most neutral account, do not come off well). Often the narrative disintegrates into short bursts of conflicting story-telling from various viewpoints, but this just feeds the excitement. It is a very powerful saga, and Carter tells it well.

This book was helpful to me even though I lived through the riots; like many others, I'd bought into much of the false mythology about what happened that night. But it will be especially attractive to anyone who came of age after 1969, and who wants to know something about what the pre-Stonewall era is like. Just one small sample, from page 117: in 1968 a gay activist named Leo Laurence "had a picture of himself and his lover, Gale Whittington, with the latter shirtless and Laurence embracing him, published in the Barb [of Berkeley, CA]. Gale, who worked as an accounting clerk at the States Steamphip Line, was immediately fired from his job." That is very much how things once were.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Of Queens and Heroism 1 Jun. 2006
By South End observer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Stonewall Riots of June 28-July 3, 1969, following a police raid on an illegal, mafia-owned gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, mark the decisive turning point in gay American history. The unprecedented uprising has taken on mythic dimension over the succeeding 35 years. Author and eyewitness Edmund White has compared Stonewall to the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Community lore has focused on colorful aspects of the melee, like the wresting of a parking meter from a sidewalk for use as a battering ram against police, the contemporaneous passing of Judy Garland, and the Rockette-style street theater participants used as a campy rebuke to the authorities. Yet given a lack of narrative detail about the events of the riots, Stonewall has become a metaphor for gay liberation while remaining vaguely understood.

Previous accounts of Stonewall, in the gay and mainstream press, and in Martin Duberman's 1992 book Stonewall, have suffered from the paucity of the historical record of the riots themselves. There is no film of the riots, and only one "frontline" picture survives from the critical night of June 28, 1969. Moreover the Sheridan Square area of New York where the riot was centered affords few vantage points from which crowd activity could be seen in overview. The insignificant press items from the time are bias-ridden and controverted in key particulars. Reconstruction would be impossible since the police lost the initiative soon after the raid, and there was no gay guerilla leader orchestrating the assault from "our " side according to some strategic plan. Given the dearth of historical data, the feature film Stonewall purported merely to be one queen's story, and is fictionalized at that.

Eyewitness accounts--though each is spotty considered in isolation--remain the primary information source about the Stonewall Riots themselves, while context of time and place help fill in interstitial detail. David Carter's masterful study, Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, researched painstakingly over a ten-year period, has finally exhausted the store of information to be had about those climatic nights in 1969. Interviewing over 40 eyewitnesses and carefully analyzing the times and the milieu of Greenwich Village, where he lives, Carter has produced the first work that can be considered a comprehensive factual rendering of the Stonewall phenomenon. With so many witness accounts to work with he is able to sketch a breathtaking overview in his synthesis. Even with the scholarly pedigree the book is lively, readable, and at times downright fascinating.

The Stonewall Inn filled a unique niche in the gay scene of the time. Carter's witness accounts stress the centrality of dance to gay experience and interaction at the club. He theorizes that unfettered same-sex dancing to the music then-popular--a rarity at the time--created a unique social environment distinguishing the Stonewall and giving it its principal draw. Some observers saw a nascent gay tribal impulse incubating amidst the lights, sound, motion, and sensation--that group instinct subsequently animating the invisible hand that coalesced and coordinated the feverish gay assault on abusive law enforcement.

Carter has written what is sure to become the definitive history of the seminal event in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender struggle for civil rights and liberation. Both scholarly and highly readable, the book deserves attention from all who have benefited from the historical events Carter so faithfully recounts.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Definitive Account of the Stonewall Riots 24 Jun. 2009
By Robert in NY - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The so-called Stonewall riots occurred over a period of a week, perhaps ignited in part by the June 28 police raid having been the second in the same week. (The first was on a Tuesday night).

Although I was present that night, and on many of the following nights, I was until last week not aware of this book's existence. Frankly, almost every account I had read previously was misinformed at best.

I heard about the book only because I saw an exhibit at the New York Public Library ("1969: The Year of Gay Liberation") and decided to read it. I'm so glad I did.

Its one of few works of serious research that also tells a great story. And it is indeed thoroughly researched (and foot-noted) by Mr Carter. Since no one could possibly have been present on Christopher Street for every minute of every night of the riots, this page-turner tells the story as it unfolded.

It enabled me to finally piece together all the events into a cohesive image of a week to remember. I can certainly vouch for the books's accuracy insofar as I recall the events I witnessed in late June and early July.

For those interested in the LGBT history, this book is simply indispensible.
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