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Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death


By Lillian Faderman
Published May 22, 2018
204 pages

"Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

A lively and engaging biography of the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, a man fiercely committed to protecting all minorities

Harvey Milk—eloquent, charismatic, and a smart-aleck—was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, but he had not even served a full year in office when he was shot by a homophobic fellow supervisor. Milk’s assassination at the age of forty-eight made him the most famous gay man in modern history; twenty years later Time magazine included him on its list of the hundred most influential individuals of the twentieth century.

Before finding his calling as a politician, however, Harvey variously tried being a schoolteacher, a securities analyst on Wall Street, a supporter of Barry Goldwater, a Broadway theater assistant, a bead-wearing hippie, the operator of a camera store and organizer of the local business community in San Francisco. He rejected Judaism as a religion, but he was deeply influenced by the cultural values of his Jewish upbringing and his understanding of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. His early influences and his many personal and professional experiences finally came together when he decided to run for elective office as the forceful champion of gays, racial minorities, women, working people, the disabled, and senior citizens. In his last five years, he focused all of his tremendous energy on becoming a successful public figure with a distinct political voice.

About the Author


Lillian Faderman is a distinguished scholar of LGBT and ethnic history and literature. She has received numerous awards for her previous eleven books, three of which, Surpassing the Love of Men, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, and The Gay Revolution, have been named by the New York Times as Notable Books of the Year.


"Faderman does a fantastic job at reanimating a story that reminds us that people can be truly tolerant—with the exception of the few—and that, with will (not money), anyone can effect change. Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes." Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Faderman has a gloriously fanatical commitment to illuminating and commemorating her subjects. . . . Any revolutionary would be lucky to stand in a light so steady, so searching, and so sure.” —Kenji Yoshino, New York Times Book Review, on The Gay Revolution
“Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Lillian Faderman’s Harvey Milk is a revelation. This insightful work provides context to Milk’s life as a gay icon and illuminates how his experience was deeply informed by his own Jewish identity.” —Cleve Jones, author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement