Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America [NOOK Book]

Overview

When the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy emerged as a political compromise under Bill Clinton in 1993, it only ended up worsening the destructive gay ban that had been on the books since World War II. Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Nathaniel Frank exposes the military’s policy toward gays and lesbians as damaging and demonstrates that “don’t ask, don’t tell” must be replaced with an outright reversal of the gay ban.
Frank is one of the ...

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Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America

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Overview

When the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy emerged as a political compromise under Bill Clinton in 1993, it only ended up worsening the destructive gay ban that had been on the books since World War II. Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Nathaniel Frank exposes the military’s policy toward gays and lesbians as damaging and demonstrates that “don’t ask, don’t tell” must be replaced with an outright reversal of the gay ban.
Frank is one of the nation’s leading experts on gays in the military, and in his evenhanded and always scrupulously documented chronicle, he reveals how the ban on open gays and lesbians in the U.S. military has greatly increased discharges, hampered recruitment, and—contrary to the rationale offered by proponents of the ban—led to lower morale and cohesion within military ranks.
Frank does not shy away from tackling controversial issues, and he presents indisputable evidence showing that gays already serve openly without causing problems, and that the policy itself is weakening the military it was supposed to protect. In addition to the moral pitfalls of the gay ban, Frank shows the practical damage it has wrought. Most recently, the discharge of valuable Arabic translators (who happen to be gay) under the current policy has left U.S. forces ill-equipped in the fight against terrorism.
Part history, part exposé, and fully revealing, Unfriendly Fire is poised to become the definitive story of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This lively and compelling narrative is sure to make the blood boil of any American who cares about national security, the right to speak the truth, or just plain common sense and fairness.


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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
The core message of Nathaniel Frank's book about the American military's ban on being openly gay can be summed up in a single slogan: "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Don't Work"…So why does his book, Unfriendly Fire, need nearly 300 pages of text to make the same relatively simple points? Because he makes them so discerningly, so substantively and so well…The main attraction in Unfriendly Fire is the agility and tough-mindedness with which Mr. Frank presents his arguments.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Wide-ranging critique of the U.S. military's controversial policy. Frank (History/New York Univ.) quickly and effectively sketches the long history of gays in the military, including many interesting details. Most readers will be unaware, for example, that the first homosexual American soldier was expelled during the Revolutionary War. The bulk of the book, however, is taken up with the debate over the current "don't ask, don't tell" guidelines, enacted into federal law in the early days of President Clinton's administration. The law bars gay service members from disclosing their sexual orientations or speaking about their relationships on penalty of expulsion. Though Clinton at the time praised it as an "honorable compromise," it left in place the longtime ban on homosexuals serving in the military. Frank tears down the pro-ban position on multiple fronts. In response to the common argument that openly gay soldiers would endanger "unit cohesion," he points out that in many foreign militaries, including Canada, France and Italy, the presence of acknowledged homosexuals has had no measurable effect on unit effectiveness. Frank dismantles many of the most vicious prejudices-that gays in the military would increase the risk of service members getting AIDS; that they would victimize or "recruit" naive soldiers-by debunking them with hard facts. The book's most effective section addresses the policy's national-security implications. In an age when the military embraces former convicts to meet recruitment quotas, he points out, it's absurd to reject or expel excellent soldiers due to their sexual orientation. He brings home the danger of such a policy in stories of the military's harassment andexpulsion of dozens of gay Arabic linguists, who possess skills indispensable to the fight against terrorism. Frank builds a solid case that the ban on gays in the military is not only wrong, it is endangering the country. Agent: Carol Mann/Carol Mann Agency
From the Publisher
Unfriendly Fire offers a sharp, vigorously framed analysis.”—The New York Times

Unfriendly Fire reads like a crisp, confident, tightly focused legal brief appealing an unconscionable decision; pity the opposing advocate who must answer it point by point. With this book, President Obama, who pledged to scrap don’t ask, don’t tell, has an instruction manual, as well as a blooper reel for avoiding Clinton’s mistakes.”—Washington Monthly

“Why does his book, Unfriendly Fire, need nearly three hundred pages of text to make the same relatively simple points? Because he makes them so discerningly, so substantively, and so well. Unfriendly Fire offers a sharp, vigorously framed analysis of this state of affairs. The main attraction in Unfriendly Fire is the agility and tough-mindedness with which Mr. Frank presents his arguments.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“This new book from the academic who first broke the story about the gay Arabic translators who were thrown out of the military is the best thing ever written about Bill Clinton’s disastrous policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ ”—Columbia Journalism Review

“A meticulously argued case for the dismantling of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and for the full reversal of the ban on gay and lesbian servicemembers.”—NPR.org

“The book is a definitive addition to Allan Berube’s Coming Out Under Fire and Randy Shilts’s Conduct Unbecoming, which each focused on eras before ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ when gay soldiers were simply banned without any epistemological baggage. But Frank differs from his predecessors with his insistently critical tone and laser-like attention to the policy’s shortcomings.”—The Advocate

“Frank examines the 1993 law that bans open homosexual service in the U.S. military . . . and provides compelling evidence why the law should be repealed. . . . Unfriendly Fire is recommended reading, especially for those who proudly serve our Nation, because of its well-reasoned insights on how the current ban on homosexuals in the armed forces is currently undermining our military might.”—Military Review

“Frank tears down the pro-ban position on multiple fronts [and] builds a solid case that the ban on gays in the military is not only wrong, it is endangering the country.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429902717
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,092,208
  • File size: 481 KB

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Frank is a senior research fellow at the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and teaches history on the adjunct faculty at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. His publications on gays in the military and other topics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lingua Franca, and others, and his research and opinions have been cited on the Congressional floor, in syndicated columns, in the blogosphere, the New York Post, The Advocate, National Review Online, the AP, and other venues, including university syllabi and media roundups. Frank earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Brown University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Table of Contents

1 The Long History of the Military Closet 1

2 Christian Soldiers: The Morality of Being Gay 26

3 The Powell-Nunn Alliance 58

4 Listening to Nunn: The Congressional Hearings on Gay Service 86

5 The Evidence 113

6 Gays in Foreign Militaries 137

7 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Don't Work 167

8 A Flawed Policy at Its Core 198

9 Brain Drain: Arabic Linguists 215

10 Gays Out, Ex-convicts In 237

11 Rainbow Warriors 258

Epilogue 291

Notes 297

Index 329

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2009

    Read This Book!

    A compelling book about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy that continues to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Well written and flows really well. I would certainly highly recommend this book for everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 16, 2011

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    Posted May 27, 2011

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