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The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  278 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
The McCarthy era is generally considered the worst period of political repression in recent American history. But while the famous question, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" resonated in the halls of Congress, security officials were posing another question at least as frequently, if more discreetly: "Information has come to the attentio
Kindle Edition, 312 pages
Published (first published 2004)
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Feb 26, 2009 Nate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lavender Scare’s first two chapters lay out the book’s premise and background. In the aftermath of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s famous declarations about communists in the State Department, department security officer John Peurifoy stated that 91 people had resigned from the State Department while under investigation as security risks, most of whom were homosexual. Following this statement, many more government employees lost their jobs under suspicions over their sexual conduct as this conduct ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Tymxx rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David K. Johnson’s, “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government” examines the cleansing of homosexuals in our nation’s capital as a result of McCarthyism in the 1950’s. Johnson starts off by painting a picture of Washington D.C. that not many, myself included, could imagine considering it’s time in history. After the second world war, America loosened up. We drank more, had babies at an unprecedented rate (one of which we still haven’t seen), and ...more
Oct 18, 2007 Jasmine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Johnson’s The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government repositions gay and lesbian persecution during the Cold Ware at the center of Cold War hysteria rather than at the margins. Johnson brings to the forefront the lavender scare that accompanied the red scare during the Cold War. While other histories of the Cold War period have placed the persecution of gays and lesbians as an additional offshoot of the broader McCarthy paranoia, Johnson loc ...more
In The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, David K. Johnson constructs a narrative of contestation centered around the employment of and discrimination against homosexual federal employees. Johnson’s work simultaneously encompasses elements of labor history, social history, gender studies, District of Columbia history, and Cold War history as he seeks to present a full treatment of the gay and lesbian community’s decades-long struggle for not ...more
Feb 01, 2008 sdw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johnson examines the purge of gay men and women employed by the federal government during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He contends that homosexuality (the moral corruption) was perceived as a greater “security risk” than communism and that more attention went to removing gay men and women from their jobs than removing communist-sympathizers. Moreover, he contends that this persecution inadvertently strengthened the ties between the gay and lesbian communities in Washington DC and led participant ...more
Dec 14, 2016 carlageek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and readable account of the systematic persecution of gays and lesbians in the federal government.

It began as a political tool to discredit the Truman administration, and in particular to discredit the Department of State and the very idea of diplomacy itself as an approach to international relations, by casting it as the province of pansy-ass effete intellectuals. (Sound familiar? Over and over while reading the phrase "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" came to mind.)

It gr
Ronald Koltnow
Feb 10, 2016 Ronald Koltnow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know how terrible our government can be, how frighteningly our society can act, and how far we have come as a nation in a few short decades, read David K. Johnson's THE LAVENDER SCARE: THE COLD WAR PERSECUTION OF GAYS AND LESBIANS IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. When Joseph McCarthy claimed to have a list of commies in the government (there was a list but it was old and no longer relevant), he focused on fourteen cases. Two of the cases involved homosexuals. The world cared more about ...more
this book is *sort of* hard to review; in terms of history it is interesting but it frames the entire issue very weakly (that is there could be some more information about developing sciences of homosexuality and how the government came to *know* what a *homosexual* was; given that this is one of the most interesting parts and is given scant attention) and the tendency to view gay rights in a simple legalistic framework and reflect on this as *the bad old days* is somewhat disingenuous although ...more
Melissa Maxwell
Jan 21, 2012 Melissa Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book very much. It was assigned to me for class but it was very informative on a time in recent American history which is almost never discussed. You never read about the firing of almost 2000 federal employees because of their sexual preference or because they associated with people who were Gay/Lesbian. It was very informative and would recommend it to readers who wish to learn more about this time era.
Tony Pisano
Great information on a subject I had no idea about. Recommended to anyone in search of our countries history that isn't told to is in high school. A little tougher to read than some books, still very well written and informative
Jun 14, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
In progress and processing still - sheds light on a little known but highly publicized and public time for gays and lesbians working/living in D.C. that I'm sure the government would rather have stayed unknown. Highly recommend.
Mar 02, 2011 Blane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good addition to the pre-Stonewall GLBT experience canon...but could have used better editing.
Jakob Zetwick
Sep 30, 2016 Jakob Zetwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good historical account of an event that was overshadowed by the Red Scare.
Laura deLuna
im on page 10, subtitle "New Sources"...
Kash Kashley
Fascinating look at a part of history not as often covered.
Infuriating, sickening, fascinating and one more entry to this semester's "HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS BEFORE" file.
Bruce Fred Knotts
Bruce Fred Knotts rated it it was amazing
Apr 27, 2015
Sherril Bee
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