Book Reviews: The Gay Fifties

| January / February 2007


Rumor has it that the 1950s were a buttoned-down decade, but We Walk Alone and We, Too, Must Love, colorful histories of lesbian culture published in 1955 and 1958, fly in the face of reports of drabness. Inspired by Donald Webster Cory's The Homosexual in America (Greenberg, 1951), Ann Aldrich (a pen name of author Marijane Meaker) set out to serve her community, about which there was a dearth of literature from the insider perspective.

"This book is the result of 15 years of participation in society as a female homosexual," Aldrich unflinchingly writes as she opens We Walk Alone, but her sophisticated prose is anything but solipsistic. She is simultaneously intimate and investigative, subjective and discerning, and the result is equal parts historical record, cultural-social analysis, and pulp narrative-a fascinating, unruly read, where an invitation to cocktail hour at a Sutton Place apartment (written in the engaging second person) happily coexists with a chapter examining legal attitudes toward sodomy in the 48 states.

Whereas We Walk Alone functions as a primer, We, Too, Must Love reports in depth on New York lesbian culture, relying heavily on accounts of specific couples, although Aldrich never fails to anchor her analysis in (or in contrast to) the voices and viewpoints of her day. The Feminist Press editions of these essential cultural artifacts, originally published by Gold Medal Books, feature introductions by Meaker and savvy afterwords by Stephanie Foote, a professor of English and gender studies, for readers who crave modern academic context.

-Julie Hanus

CABLE NEWS CONFIDENTIAL: My Misadventures in Corporate Media

by Jeff Cohen (PoliPointPress)

Jeff Cohen is a rare left-wing media critic who has had the opportunity-and the stomach-to appear regularly on America's corporate-owned cable news channels. In Cable News Confidential, Cohen, the founder of media watch group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), documents his years as a pundit and sometime producer at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Admitting that his role on shows like Fox's News Watch was "peculiar"-he was paid by "Darth Murdoch" to criticize the media-Cohen supplements scary behind-the-scenes revelations with on-air excerpts. Ultimately, his "misadventures" shed light on the troubling shortcomings of cable news, where temper tantrums are preferred to informed debates because they make for "good television."

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