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How to Survive a World War

 

Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars
by Stephen Bourne
B. Tauris. 236 pages, $27.50

 

 

OVER A QUARTER CENTURY ago, Allan Bérubé’s groundbreaking book Coming Out Under Fire (1990) brought attention to the plight—and the heroism—of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans in the armed services during World War II. A monumental piece of scholarship, it justly deserved the awards and accolades it received.

Now, Stephen Bourse, a British writer and historian, has set out to investigate his country’s version of this story. Not surprisingly, it’s a story fraught with the same prejudice and hostility as the American one. “I regard the act of homosexuality in any form as the most abominable bestiality that any human being can take part in,” declared Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, the so-called “Spartan General” and hero of the Battle of El Alamein. In such a climate, gay British soldiers lived a “knife-edge existence,” Bourne says, “fearful of being found out and court-martialed”—a sadly familiar tale.

In Fighting Proud, Bourne describes his book as “exploring and highlighting the many stories about gay men’s lives in the two world wars

Philip Gambone has just completed his sixth book, a memoir titled As Far As I Can Tell: Finding My Father in World War II.

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