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Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Stephen Bourne(Author)

    Book details


In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed - a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI - to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI - many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing's work on breaking the 'enigma machine' and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem 'Keep the Home Fires Burning', and the crucial work of Noel Coward - who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream historians. This book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain's hour of need.

Stephen Bourne brings great natural scholarship and passion to largely hidden stories. He is highly accessible, accurate, and surprising. You always walk away from his work knowing something that you didn't know, that you didn't even suspect. --Bonnie Greer

3.5 (11707)
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Book details

  • PDF | 256 pages
  • Stephen Bourne(Author)
  • I.B.Tauris (30 Jun. 2017)
  • English
  • 7
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

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Review Text

  • By michael smith on 4 September 2017

    sold by the covering photograph .however for somebody in their early sixties there waslittle original content inside.although I can see much appeal and education in this book for the younger generation.

  • By Mary Murray on 12 July 2017

    I was curious to find out more about this book, so decided to purchase it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-written and researched book on a subject that has not been covered too well in the past for obvious reasons. I was expecting a roll-out of facts about the gay men of now 'celebrity' status (Kitchener; Turing, etc) but was pleased to find anecdotes and personal information on the everyday men who not only contributed to the efforts of two World Wars, but had to hide their sexuality at the same time. The book describes these men in not only a touching and sometimes humorous way, but also as brave people whose telling of their stories is long overdue.

  • By Hargreaves on 14 September 2017

    I really enjoyed reading this book. Stephen Bourne's fascinating account of the role that gay men played during WW1 and WW2 was a revelation. Yes, I had known about high-profile gays like Noël Coward and Alan Turing. But Bourne's book introduced me to the unsung gay heroes back then and the lives they were forced to lead, unrecognized as gays for their contributions as servicemen, entertainers, writers, artists, or as common men trying to live a normal but unequal life.More than just an historical account, this is a story of real people, not dry figures on a page. We get to know these men and become drawn into their lives as gays forced to love their partners in hiding while openly risking death on the battle field and public exposure. Gays were in constant fear of being ridiculed and jailed since homosexuality was still a crime in the UK.This is an engrossing story of bravery told with eloquence and dignity by Bourne. It's hard to put down. I was driven to keep reading to find out what happened to each gay man, some well-known heroes but each man a hero given the limited, covert lives they were forced to lead but which they admirably rose above. Bourne makes us feel their pain and also their joys.For those who wish to read further, Bourne includes an excellent bibliography in addition to his introductory comments on important books in the field. Despite material on gay men being difficult to come by, especially for the period of WW1, Bourne has managed to dig deep in his research to unearth new information and to introduce us to lesser-known but no less important gays of the times. There are more than 32 wonderful, rare photos, most of which I've never seen before.All in all an absorbing, enlightening, and interesting book, time and money well spent. I highly recommend it.

  • By Colin McIntosh on 15 July 2017

    This is a book that needs to be in LGBT history shelves and libraries everywhere. It was fascinating and insightful and I can't recommend it highly enough to all.

  • By Springy on 17 September 2017

    The author S Bourne chronicles some of the stories of gay fighting men in the two world wars. It is a fascinating subject, partly because it is so overlooked. The book is a useful collection of anecdotes from a range of secondary sources, most (if not all) of which seemed to be published in scattered collections elsewhere. Some of these anecdotes are homorous, tragic, or simply heroic. The author early on confesses that he has very little material for WW1 and herein lies the books greatest weakness. There is so little surviving material for him to draw upon. I just was getting into some of the world war 1 stories when the book abruptly moved on. Also, because the author hasn't been able to consult many (if any?) primary sources; I felt at times frustrated that some of the details of these amazing love stories were missing. Many seemed bland or simply described by theatrical people in theatrical terms. Overall, I'm glad I read the book, and I commend S Bourne for his choice of subject. However, it couldn't live up to the title of the "untold story" because it left so much unsaid.

  • By andrew davies on 10 July 2017

    Books from Stephen Bourne are always interesting and provide a diversity on the subjects of World War 1 and 2, not just the norm.Stephen opens up his wide range of knowledge on the subject matter, which may be contentious to some people, and provides an interesting account for the reader.A very enjoyable and interesting book and well worth the money, a very good read.

  • By Guest on 18 July 2017

    A fascinating book about gay men who served in both world wars. Author Stephen Bourne has gone to great lengths to research the stories of these men whose experiences have all too often been forgotten. It is a very engaging book and one that we should all read. I recommend it highly. Lest we forget.

  • By David on 5 September 2017

    I found Fighting Proud a really great read. It is a shame that it has taken until 2017 for this book to be written, because so many of the stories that could have appeared in this book have now disappeared with the generation of gay men that lived through the Second World War. However, Stephen Bourne has managed to uncover several stories that I've not heard before. What I found really refreshing was the fact that he has avoided focussing on the high profile stories already told (Alan Turing etc) in favour of the voices of those who are rarely heard - there are several working class voices here.The book is well researched, logically presented and authoritative. Give it a read.


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