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Against The Law

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  71 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
A riveting account of what it meant to be a homosexual in 1950s Britain, by a central figure in the celebrated Montagu Case

In March 1954 Peter Wildeblood, a London journalist, was one of five men charged with homosexual acts in the notorious Montagu Case, as it came to be known. Wildeblood was sentenced to eighteen months for homosexual offences, along with Lord Montagu an
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by Phoenix (first published 1955)
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Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is hard to imagine that the happenings in this book took place just 60 years ago; how the world has thankfully changed on such issues since then.

Trumped up charges were laid at Peter Wildeblood's door, thanks to two of his so-called friends turning Queen's evidence - and then getting away with any misdemeanours (and there were some) that they had committed. Wildeblood tells the lead up to his being charged with his supposed crimes with complete honesty and without a trace of malice.

He was sub
Kate Aaron
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paperback
Everyone should read this book, gay or straight. It is the story of a modern-day witchhunt, and it almost destroyed the lives of three men. Some might say it did destroy two of them. The book is dated, I know my hackles raise at the use of words such as 'normal', but the message is important and there are still lessons to be learnt from what Wildeblood went through.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay, history, memoir
A very well written book - no wonder it was a best seller in its day. I was only able to get my hands on a very well used edition of the book. [I note it was on the 'reserved list' of an English library - not for everyone's viewing. I think the fact that it was not on the shelves of the library and had to be requested gives some insight into the mindset of the 60s and 70s on this particular subject]. The reality is that the book is a straight forward account of Wildeblood's court case and his su ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
An important document in British gay history and a valuable reminder of the progress we've made.

I recently saw a very good one man play called The Act, which zips along 3 periods gay history - the present day, when we are within a whisker of full equality; the 50s when a man could be imprisoned for 'offending public decency'; and the 60s, when MPs in the Commons debated the 'problem' of homosexuality, particularly the high incidences of blackmail. I've had this book on my Kindle for a while but
Huw Collingbourne
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring, terrifying, wonderful and dreadful book. The real-life story of a famous British trial for the serious crime of homosexuality in the early 1950s. The author, Peter Wildeblood, madly, foolishly and heroically refused to 'go quietly'. He stood up in court and openly said "I am a homosexual" - which was really unheard of at the time. His is the story of prejudice and persecution which, due largely to his expression of low for another man, ended up putting him in prison for 18 months. ...more
A.B. Gayle
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still relevant today

You might think that a book written so long ago would have lost its impact. Times have changed. Homosexuals are no longer imprisoned because of who they are, but aspects of this book make it, I believe, a must read for everyone.
Being a journalist, the author has the ability to see the 'story' in his experiences, so material which might be boring or trivialised becomes a surprisingly entertaining read.
He also bring a (true) journalist's impartiality to the subject. Those who m
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who knows me even vaguely will be aware that I am completely opposed to 'bad history', that is looking at the events of centuries ago through the prism of 21st century spectacles.

However, I am prepared to do this in this case, as many other, more civilised countries chose to conclude that what two consenting adults did in the privacy of their own environment was of no concern to anyone else.

That the UK police force chose instead to persecute homosexuals - at least partly as a way of keepi
Katherine Fabian
Oh, I love this book so painfully much! Wildeblood's bravery, determination, humour and passion for social justice shine through in every word. Not only is this important piece of history, but it's also a wonderful book that makes me love its author.

Summary (not spoilery):

Wildeblood was one of three defendants in a high profile sodomy trial in the 1950s. This book is an overt piece of activism written and published to a wide audience in order to push for the decriminalisation of (male) homosex
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book tore at my heart. Well worth the emotional wrenching.
Eddie Clarke
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An amazingly well-written and completely engrossing book, written by the ex-foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail after his trial and imprisonment for homosexuality in a massive scandal in the early 50s (whipped up deliberately by the authorities for maximum public impact) A completely essential, I would say fundamentally important read in terms of LGBT history in the UK. As Matthew Paris writes in the 1999 edition's preface, Peter Wildeblood was virtually one of the first men in history to p ...more
Emmy Gregory
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A stunning piece of writing: heartbreaking, witty, moving, down-to-earth and powerful simply because of its unremitting honesty in the backdrop of a dishonest and inconsistent culture. Given how important this book is in the history of LGBT rights in the UK I can't believe I only heard about it so recently. I know it will stay with me for a long time.
Adam Dunn
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt
To fans of this book I would also recommend The Verdict of You All, a book with a similar theme written just before this book.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insights ...
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Date of Birth 19 May 1923, Alassio, Liguria, Italy
Date of Death 14 November 1999, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Educated at Radley College, Oxfordshire and then Trinity College, Oxford.

Served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

In January 1954, he was arrested by British police and charged with homosexual offences. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. After his release, he b
More about Peter Wildeblood