Harvey Milk His Lives and Death (2018) by Lillian Faderman 

The University of Albany in the 1950s was very different than it is today!   Harvey Milk attended what was then called, Albany Normal School. Harvey was one of a small number of male students enrolled during the post-war years.  He wrote for the school newspaper where he complained that the student body was apathetic to sports. Milk joined a Jewish fraternity and was active in Hillel. One thing Mr. Milk did not do in Albany, was publicly identify himself as a gay man. 

Harvey’s rise to prominence is detailed in this book. I was surprised by many of the facts presented in the book were not in any films I’ve seen about this legendary gay rights activist.Through the book,  I learned that Harvey was not easily accepted as a representative of the San Francisco Gay community, I was surprised that Harvey Milk considered joining Jim Jones’ People’s Temple in Guyana, and that Harvey did not participate in Jewish communal life despite always being proud of his Judaism. 

The author provides a nuanced, human look at Milk’s life. From his Long Island upbringing to his many attempts to find a career, and eventually to his murder, it’s all in the book. I learned that Mr. Milk was no child prodigy destined for greatness. His success came with decades of struggles to find his purpose and his place as a Gay Jew.  His strong personality shows through in this biography.  

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