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A comprehensive biographical survey from ancient Chinese courtiers to pioneers of gay liberation in the twenty-first century, from the unknowable relationships of the distant past to the frankest affirmations of modern sexual identity. The exploits of the famous never cease to captivate our imaginations--rulers, artists, explorers, and all the great personalities of history. Yet many quieter lives also have the ability to impress, to teach us something about the remarkable qualities of human nature. In this book, Robert Aldrich presents a fascinating portrait of gay men and women throughout history that reveals the full diversity of gay lives as lived in their times. He gives a voice to more than seventy people from around the world and all walks of life, from poets, philosophers, and artists to radicals and activists. Along with celebrated names such as Michelangelo, Frederick the Great, and Harvey Milk are lesser-known but no less inspiring individuals: two men of ancient Egypt whose lives were closely linked over four thousand years ago; a Renaissance nun who blurred the boundaries between spiritual and physical love; and "Aimée" and "Jaguar," whose love defied the death camps of wartime Germany. Often colorful, occasionally tragic, but all in some way extraordinary, these life stories reflect--and have sometimes helped to shape--contemporary attitudes toward same-sex intimacy.
From Michelangelo to Harvey Milk, Aldrich (European history, University of Sydney) profiles about 80 gay men and women from around the world, including writers, artists, philosophers, and activists, in this reference for students and general readers. Some are well-known and other less so, but none is still living. The author makes a special effort to go beyond Europe, with profiles of a Japanese photographer, an Arabic painter, and a Jamaican novelist. The profiles are organized according to 12 themes, such as ancient ancestors, entanglements of sex and politics, visions of male beauty, love in the Levant, and international lives in the modern era. The book is handsomely illustrated with b&w photo portraits, color paintings and illustrations, and works of art from various eras, with a total of 128 photos and illustrations, 56 in color. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)