The bestselling author of the definitive history of the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On, provides the most thorough analysis yet of the place of gay men and women in the US military
Published during the same year the American military instituted Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and eighteen years before President Barack Obama repealed it, Conduct Unbecoming is a landmark work of social justice and a searing indictment of the military establishment’s historic bigotry toward its gay servicemen and women. Randy Shilts’s eye-opening book describes the bravery, both exceptional and everyday, not only of gay soldiers throughout history, but also of gay men and women serving in our modern military. With each anecdote and investigation, Shilts systematically dismantles the arguments against allowing gays to serve in the military.
At once a history of the American military and an account of the gay rights movement, Conduct Unbecoming is a remarkable testament to the progress achieved for gays in the military—and a revealing look at how far we have yet to go.
“A sober, thoroughly researched and engrossingly readable history on the subject. [Shilts’s] chronicle is excellent military history, closely woven with an enthralling analysis of the changing definitions of sexuality and personal relationships in American society. . . . [A] landmark book . . . Remarkable.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping reading . . . The history of homosexual people and the movement for gay and lesbian equality in the United States can nowhere be more clearly told.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“For sheer militaristic folly, even Joseph Heller’s classic satire has nothing on Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. . . . Randy Shilts’ brilliantly documented account of the Pentagon’s great homosexual purges of the ’70s and ’80s.” —Entertainment Weekly
Randy Shilts (1951–1994) was a trailblazing American journalist and author who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle for most of his life, creating the first gay beat in the newspaper world. In addition to his large body of reportage, Shilts also wrote three widely lauded bestselling books—And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, and Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. Shilts remained a crucial figure in the advancement of gay rights until his death of complications from AIDS at the age of forty-two.