Category Archives: GLBT non-fiction

“Art and Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U” edited by Chael Needle and Diane Goettel— Artistic Responses to AIDS

art and understanding

Needle, Chael and Goettel, Diane (editors). “Art and Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U”, Black Lawrence Press, 2015.

Artistic Responses to AIDS

Amos Lassen

This anthology of poetry comes from contributions to A&U Magazine. A&U deals with thoughtful and artistic responses to AIDS and this book was put together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of publication. The proceeds from the sale of the collection are to be a fundraising tool by A&U at AIDS conferences and events. It is a pity, however, that this is being published by a press that is unsympathetic to the gay lifestyle and whose editorial offices are much to busy, I suppose, to bother with answering emails. The only reason I am reviewing this is the nature of the literature. I find the staff at Black Lawrence to be unprofessional and totally rude and I recommend spending your money elsewhere. The press obviously has no need for gay cash or for reviews from gay reviewers.

Included in this anthology is work from emerging, celebrated, and forgotten writers who have contributed work to A & U Magazine in its first two decades of publication”. Most of us are aware that the power of literature as a counter-narrative is immense especially in relation to HIV/AIDS. When AIDS began in this country, the first reaction was silence but this was quickly followed by outcry against a country that was doing nothing to help it sick and dying citizens. President Ronald Reagan did nothing and this is one of the things that will define his administration forever. From that silence came “fear-mongering, blaming, shaming and minimalizing” and the country seemed to have a lack of concern about the disease. Gay men were dismissed by the government and by the medical establishment and healthcare facilities. The media and the public were silent on the epidemic. So were the government, the medical establishment and healthcare facilities and the gay community was

marginalized by considering it as the Other. Soon there were anti-AIDS organizations and demonstrations and there was an outbreak of other social forces, namely homophobia, racism, misogyny, and classism. There was a national attempt to dismiss the reality of the disease and no one in power even wanted to give it a name.

Those realities spoke to the injustices and indignities of Reagan’s America and to the blind spots of our friends’ and families’ compassion. However, the silencing failed as the gay community limped into its own. Our unity came from our diversity and alliances were formed; activism and self-determination became almost a way of life. We began to claim our own literature and as early as 1991, there was A&U Magazine. It came into being as a way for us to show our responses to our holocaust and featured poetry, drama, fiction, and creative non-fiction that explored “the emotional complexity, the strategies of survival, and the pressing questions of the pandemic”. Soon individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and those who loved them, expressed ideas to show that we were not going to be eradicated and then we would fight back and fight AIDS.

This anthology is a collection of some of the best work from those whose creativity was collected in the magazine and it is a wonderful collection. However, what makes this book less than perfect is the fact that it is published by Black Lawrence Publishing, which obviously does not and has not ever sincerely given a damn about our community.  In fact, the editor of the press does not even bother to answer her mail and has not done so for over two years.         

“Religion and Political Tolerance in America: Advances in the State of the Art” edited by Paul Djupe— Religion and Political Tolerance

religion and political tolerance

Djupe, Paul (editor). “Religion and Political Tolerance in America: Advances in the State of the Art”, (Social Logic of Politics). Temple University Press, 2015.

Religion and Political Tolerance

Amos Lassen

We are all certainly aware of how much of what we do today is influenced by religious institutions that are often engaged in influencing the beliefs and values that we hold. In “Religion and Political Tolerance in America: Advances in the State of the Art”, Paul Djupe shares the cutting-edge scholarship that sets the agenda for research on religion and political tolerance. We also know that religious groups can also challenge how people think about democracy and this includes “the extension of equal rights and liberties regardless of viewpoint, or what is commonly called political tolerance”. The essays included in this anthology try to show how these elements interrelate. The editor and contributors present new and innovative research that wrestles with the fundamental question of what place religion takes in today’s democratic society. The various writings address topics ranging from religious contributions to social identity to the political tolerance that clergy hold and advocate to others, and how religion shapes responses to intolerance. We see the emphasis on religion’s take on political tolerance as nuanced and that emphasis is not incompatible with religion that can sometimes enhance the tolerance of ordinary citizens.

“Stormtrooper Families: Homosexuality and Community in the Early Nazi Movement” by Andrew Waackerfuss— Gay Stormtroopers?

stormtrooper families

Wackerfuss, Andrew. “Stormtrooper Families: Homosexuality and Community in the Early Nazi Movement”, Harrington Park Press, LLC, 2015.

Gay Stormtroopers?

Amos Lassen

I must admit that this is a book I did not. think I would ever see. I am also not to sure that I want to see it now because as a Jewish gay male, I do not want to be lumped into a group of people such as the Nazi stormtroopers. However, history being what it is, I am not surprised that this book came out and now perhaps we have all reached that time in our lives that we can look at something like this objectively even though it may be hard to do. I sat down to read this book and was amazed at the research that Andrew Wackerfuss did in order to produce this book. He has taken archival material,

personnel records, Nazi Party autobiographies, published and unpublished memoirs, personal letters, court records, and police-surveillance records in order to provide a look the stormtrooper movement as “an organic product of its local community, its web of interpersonal relationships, and its intensely emotional internal struggles”. We have seen time and again that homosexuality is a topic for debate and even now with the changing opinions and the new freedoms that the LGBT community has gained, debates still rage regardless of aspect of gay life being spoken about.

Going back to the Nazis, we now know that there was a great deal of debate regarding homosexuality and not only was it important in terms of the actual presence on gay people in the regime but generally so in fascist and antifascist politics.

Stormtroopers witnessed the first German debates over homosexuality and political life. We must not forget that Germany before the rise of Hitler was sexually and it seemed as if everything was ok. Those that later became the stormtroopers had once battled over the definitions of homosexuality and during the Weimar Regime both homosexuality and masculinity took center stage. The other aspect that must be considered was Hitler’s plan to eliminate homosexuals from the world yet the ranks of his soldiers were filled with gay men.

This book chronicles the personal, political, and sexual struggles of the stormtroopers as it explains not only how individual gay men existed within the Nazi movement but also how the public meaning of homosexuality affected fascist and antifascist politics–a public controversy still alive today.

We may wonder why there is still such interest in the stormtroopers and the answer to this is provided by Wackerfuss. It seems to be that the reason is because of a series of strange associations with sexuality, homosexuality and the political meaning of sexual orientations. There was a significant number of people who believed that the stormtroopers rise to power brought them political power and victory but that it also caused their downfall that made permanent the link between sexuality and violence in the politics of the Nazi party. We see here how Nazi sexuality combined with forms of politics connected them to experiences that detracted attention from whatever negative goals that they had.

There is a great deal of information here and it provides for a fascinating read. The author covers his subject wonderfully and it seems to me that he has left no stone unturned. He starts off by giving us a “Stormtrooper Primer” which greatly aids understanding of what is to come in later chapters and what their role was in the Nazi state of Germany as well as how historians have understood them and their role. What is interesting is that the Germans were fanatical record keepers, but until this book came along there was a very small numbers of stormtrooper histories. Here we have both their private and public lives and we see them not only as individual soldiers but also as groups.

Detailed, well informed, and highly readable–an important and most welcome contribution to the still relatively small number of SA histories, and Wackerfuss has undertaken a huge amount of research into local primary sources. I learned here that contrary to what I had always been taught about the Nazis that there was no united front and at times there was serious infighting. I have always thought that those who became stormtroopers did so because of the power that came with the job and I see that was a correct assumption. But what is ever more interesting is that these soldiers felt an allegiance to their Fuhrer, the infamous Adolf Hitler, the one man who felt her had the power to change the course of history. He ultimately did do that but in the way he thought he world and infamy is all that is left of him.


New in July, 2015 from Bruno Gmunder


New in July


The Satyr of Capri – Boys of Imperial Rome 2

Rome, AD 108. What, or who is the mysterious Satyr of Capri? Rare statue, man, or monster? Why do danger and death stalk all who are connected with the elusive secret? New friends and lovers Quintus and Rufio are unwittingly embroiled in the quest for the truth.
320 pages, illustrated (b/w)
Softcover 5 ¼ x 7 ½“ (13,0 x 19,0 cm)
€ 14,99 / US$ 16.99 / C$ 18.99 / £ 10.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-854-8

strokeO´Hanian & Richards
Stroke – From under the Mattress to Out in the Open

This volume is a historic retrospective of the erotic illustrations published in US magazines from the 1950s to 1990s. Although they were freely available, their often closeted readers put them under their mattresses.
144 pages, full color 
Hardcover with dust jacket, 8 ½ x 11 ¼“ (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)
€ 49,99 / US$ 59.99 / C$ 69.99 / £ 49.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-836-4

playAlex Neustädter
Play with me – The Complete Guide to Sexual Role-Playing

Following on his comprehensive guide to sex positions, Gaymasutra, Axel Neustädter’s new book Play with Me! dives into the world of erotic role-playing.
208 pages, full color
Hardcover, 6 ¾ x 9 ½“ (17, 6 x 24 ,6 cm)
€ 29,99 / US$ 34.99 / C$ 44.99 / £ 26.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-855-5

spartacusRonny Matthes
Spartacus Berlin Gay Guide

When elsewhere the streets empty for the night, the fun justs starts in Berlin . Even during the day it never gets boring. With the abundance of clubs, bars, museums, galeries, and theaters one can quickly lose the overview. But not with this guide. This completely revised edition includes many free tickets and vouchers to various parties and sights—a must-have for every Berlin visitor.

200 pages, full color, German and English
Softcover, 4 ¼ x 7” (10, 5 x 18 cm)
€ 11,95 / US$ 20.99 / C$ 18.00 / £ 11.99
ISBN 978-3-86787-860-9

“The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism” by Adrian Brooks— “The Queer People’s History of the United States

the right side of history

Brooks, Adrian. “The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism, Cleis Press, 2015.

“The Queer People’s History of the United States”

Amos Lassen

Stonewall is generally regarded as the beginning of the gay rights movement but Adrian Brooks in his study of LGBT history, we learn that while significant to our history, the movement actually began some time earlier. With his wonderful prose and writing style, Brooks takes us on an exploration of our history and we go back Edwardian America and to the beginning of the struggle for gay rights in America in this country. Once again, we see how our history is just part of the larger history of civil rights and activism.

Brooks uses first-person interviews that give us insights into some of the people responsible for the movement. He also writes of the lives of some who have remained anonymous yet made huge contributions to our history. He places the fight for gay rights as part of the larger civil rights movements and we see what we shared. Thus we see what our part has been in the overall quest for all men and women to be created equal and to all have the same rights.

We must never forget that today we stand on the shoulders on those who came before us just as they stood on the shoulders of their predecessors and as the community to come will do the same. Our history is diverse and inclusive and it is a wonderful history that all of us must be aware of. Brooks’ thesis is our activism is an act of patriotism— we love our country and we want our country to love us. Activism is part of every history and ours has been a bit radical and now we are finally beginning to get rights that we deserve. It was necessary to be radical in order to be part of our country where there is supposed to be “liberty and justice for all”. In his introduction, Brooks states that “this country has promised much more than it has delivered”. This is a fascinating read that you will go back to time and time again.

I first met Adrian Brooks via his book “Flight of Angels” several years ago and I remember being awed by his prose. I am even more awed by this book because it is our story and we are all a part of it.


“Out of Orange: A Memoir” by Cleary Wolters— The Real Alex Vause

out of orange

Wolters, Cleary. “Out of Orange: A Memoir”, Harper One, 2015.

The Real Alex Vause

Amos Lassen

I must admit that I originally had no interest in the mini-series, “Orange is the New Black” but then I watched one episode and was immediately hooked. It was there that I first met Alex Vause and she appeared to me to be a truly despicable character. When I was contacted about reviewing Cleary Wolters’ (the real Alex Vause) book, I was apprehensive because of the character I knew only from the series and one of the characters that I did not like very much. Reading about her made me see her differently however. Her story is powerful and filled with surprises and it deals with crime and punishment, friendship and marriage, and a life caught in the ruinous drug trade and beyond”. Some of what we see on TV in the series is true but that is only part of the story.

Alex was Piper’s ex-girlfriend and her true story is something a bit like we see on TV but there is so much more. In the book we get more details that we could ever get on television and many of our questions about the relationship between Alex and Piper are answered for us.

Wolters found herself in the spotlight without having been asked and without her permission. She only learned of learned about Piper Kerman’s book, “Orange is the New Black” from the media so she decided to fill in what is missing. This includes Wolters’ time in the drug trade, her incarceration, her friendships and acquaintances with odd cellmates, her two marriages, and her complicated relationship with Piper. Wolters does not let her past be all that defines her, she looks at life as it is for now and how the past has affected it.

While “Out of Orange” fills in some of what is not in Kerman’s book, it also stands on its own and gives quite a look at the anxiety and real-life chaos that is part the international drug ring that Wolters became involved in as well as her complicated friendship and subsequent relationship with Piper Kerman, and the realities of prison life.

We meet characters who do not appear in the television series and we get answers to questions that only Wolters and Kerman could have., Wolters also tells us about the first time she ever heard that the series was going to air on Netflix and she shares her deepest thoughts on the series.

Cleary Wolters is a strong woman who fell into unfortunate circumstances and had to face internal and external struggles as she attempted to deal with the choices she had made. trying to come to terms with the choices she made along the way. This is a story of the excitement and fear that comes with being a narcotics escort and the story of how it is never too late to correct what one has done.

It is the back story about the criminal activities that landed Cleary and Piper in prison, as well as what happened during incarceration and after release. 

I found it so interesting that Cleary Wolters had thought her past was behind her. She was living her everyday life when she saw a commercial for a new TV mini-series that made her stop cold. As she watched the preview, she saw show “a young blond woman hopping out of a van, wearing an orange prison uniform. A blur of words and images followed, including allusions to lesbian lovers, drug smuggling, and life behind bars. Then she saw a woman wearing her signature black-rimmed glasses’. It was here that she was stunned and she knew that her private past was now public and her life was getting ready to change big time.

As she later watched the show she realized that while it was fun for us, it was very personal for her. In her book, she tells an honest and emotional tale of the decisions and the mistakes she made, as well as the struggle to keep them from defining the rest of her life.

Unnormalizing Education : Addressing Homophobia in Higher Education and K-12 Schools” by Joseph R. Jones— On a Higher Level

unnormalizing education

Jones, Joseph R. “Unnormalizing Education : Addressing Homophobia in Higher Education and K-12 Schools”, Information Age Publishing, 2015.

On a Higher Level

Amos Lassen

It is still apparent that there are tremendous problems in our schools regarding homophobia and homophobic bullying. Educators are not sure about an appropriate process for addressing these challenges. Here, Joseph R. Jones postulates that out of necessity we need to begin exploring the culture of educational environments as they relate to sexual difference. We see here how educators must begin looking at how their concepts about various and different sexual identities are what we call normalized “through socializing processes and schooling”. We see here how individuals construct meanings about homophobia and hate language through “contextual oppositions” and “how educational environments maintain a false tolerance” when claiming to be tolerant of different sexual identities. We become aware how a hierarchy of hate language exists in educational environments, among other issues related to creating safe places for all students. Basically what this book tries to do it is “un”normalize society’s constructions of sexual identity by deconstructing the social norms.


Preface: Understanding Unnormalizing.

(Un)derstanding the Problem.

(Un) masking our True Tolerance.

(Un) Raveling Masculinities and Perceptions.

(Un)doing the Hierarchy of Hate Language.

(Un) Contextualizing Language and Behaviors.

(Un)derstanding the Role of Multicultural Education. in Addressing Homophobia in Schools.

(Un) Doing Unsupportive Schools.

(Un)dertaking a Personal Journey

27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners 2015



Yabo, Alexis De Veaux, RedBone Press


*I Loved You More, Tom Spanbauer, Hawthorne Books

Give It to Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press

A Safe Girl To Love, Casey Plett, Topside Press

The Walk-In Closet, Abdi Nazemian, Curtis Brown Unlimited

*Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS, Martin Duberman, The New Press

*Fire Shut Up In My Bones, Charles M. Blow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, Thomas Page McBee, City Lights/Sister Spit

Mysterious Acts by My People, Valerie Wetlaufer, Sibling Rivalry Press

[insert] boy, Danez Smith, YesYes Books

*The Old Deep and Dark, Ellen Hart, Minotaur Books

*Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery, Katie Gilmartin, Cleis Press

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, with Barbara Smith, SUNY Press

The Prince of Los Cocuyos, Richard Blanco, HarperCollins/Ecco
*Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr, W. W. Norton & Company

*The Farmer’s Daughter, Robbi McCoy, Bella Books

*Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books

Lesbian Sex Bible, Diana Cage, Quiver Books

The King, Tiffany Reisz, MIRA Books

*Understanding and Teaching US Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, University of Wisconsin Press

Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Samuel French

Second Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner; Art by Mark Zingarelli, Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Bitter Waters, Chaz Brenchley, Lethe Press

*The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within U.S. Slave Culture, Vincent Woodard, Ed. Justin A. Joyce and Dwight McBride, New York University Press

* Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed here at

“Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel” by Alice Walker— Who Needs Alice Walker?

overcoming speechlessness

Walker, Alice. “Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel”, Seven Stories Press, 2010.

Who Needs Alice Walker?

Amos Lassen

Alice Walker once seemed to have it all. She was a respected writer and winner of a Pulitzer Prize but lately and by that I mean in the last twenty years, she has used her fame to lash out against what she calls injustices when in effect, she does not have any idea of what she is talking about. And this is how she will be remembered—as a woman who used her well-earned famer as a writer to speak out about issues that do not affect her directly and of which she has no background. Even more interesting is that she has become a black anti-Semite and espouses hate at every opportunity—so much so, that her own daughter is no longer speaking to her.

In 2006, Alice Walker, while working with Women for Women International, visited Rwanda and the eastern Congo to witness the aftermath of the genocide in Kigali. Invited by Code Pink, an antiwar group working to end the Iraq War, Walker traveled to Palestine/Israel three years later to view what she calls the devastation on the Gaza Strip. Here is her testimony. I am only concerned with what she has to say about Israel and it is clear to me that she has gone the way of two other misguided and self-promoting female “scholars”, Sarah Schulman and Judith Butler. To even make this more interesting, all three of these women are out lesbians who take the side of Palestine, a place where their sexual orientation would not allow them to remain alive for long. But hey, both talk and sex are cheap these days.

Walker, so the blurb says, bears “witness to the depravity and cruelty, she presents the stories of the individuals who crossed her path and shared their tales of suffering and courage. Part of what has happened to human beings over the last century, she believes, is that we have been rendered speechless by unusually barbaric behavior that devalues human life. We have no words to describe what we witness. Self-imposed silence has slowed our response to the plight of those who most need us, often women and children, but also men of conscience who resist evil but are outnumbered by those around them who have fallen victim to a belief in weapons, male or ethnic dominance, and greed.” These are pretty words if you speak “Walkerese”.

Walker writes that she traveled to the Gaza Strip in 2009 to witness the suffering caused by the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Here, she TELLS STORIES of women and children brutalized by war. (Capitalization intentional and the word “stories” here is important).She recalls (which is not the same as remembering) “visiting villages reduced to rubble, listening to women mourn the death of their children, sharing modest meals, and sharing stories of her own struggles growing up in the South, the U.S. civil rights movement, and learning the importance of connections to friends and family.” (She does not mention that she is a lesbian here because f she had she probably would have been escorted out of the area). Walker attempts to link “modern-day atrocities to older cruelties, including the Holocaust and the Trail of Tears. She claims to have found resilience in the midst of atrocities, and she “uses her own voice, as poet and activist, to speak out against injustices in the world’s trouble spots.” What she forgets is the history of the Jewish people and the state of Israel as well as the constant bombardment and aggression from the Arab countries. When did she become so knowledgeable about the Middle East? The truth be known that she is not knowledgeable at all about it and much of what she says is based about warped thinking and influence from others.

What an unfortunate fate to befall a writer who has shown such promise. I have no idea how or why she has become the hate monger that she has become but I do wish she would shut up. It is also interesting that there was a time that publishing houses would fight to publish Walker and now she is published by a minor house.

“Compulsion” by Meyer Levin— “The Jewish Crime of the Century”


Levin, Meyer. “Compulsion”, Fig Tree Books Reprint, 2015.

“The Jewish Crime of the Century”

Amos Lassen

I have heard others say that I am a bit obsessed with the Leopold/Loeb affair and I suppose that there is some truth to that. I have never been able to understand the entire business and whenever I need to think about something, it seems that I return to it; I suppose because I have so many unanswered questions. Quite frankly it bothers me a great deal that two such promising young men should be involved in such sordidness especially when it did not need to happen. It has been 90 years and there is still so much we do not understand about it. Even Meter Levin’s classic “Compulsion” makes me think about it even more and it is 60 years old. Between Leopold, Loeb and the Rosenbergs, I spend a lot of tine just sitting and thinking about the criminal mind and how it comes to be.

I remember that as a kid, I would hear people whispering about it. It seemed that everyone knew something about the murderers and/or were reading “Compulsion” and talking about it. Leopold and Loeb certainly were responsible for some degree of American anti-Semitism. (After all, Jews do not commit such horrific crimes, do they?)

“Compulsion is a fictional account of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb’s horrible and horrifying murder of a 14-year-old boy and while the names are changed to Steiner and Strauss, everyone knew the book was about Leopold and Loeb. The story sticks closely to the actual facts of the 1924 crime.

When the book was published, it became an instant sensation and a bestseller. Murder mysteries were popular in the 50s and 60s and one that was based on a true story, a story as gruesome as anyone imagine was what Americans liked to read. The Leopold/Loeb murder was nothing ordinary—there was no reason for it to happen. The killers’ aim was to commit the perfect crime and the murder of Bobby Franks, then just 14 was the way that they thought they could succeed. It was a gratuitous murder by two young men who looked at what they did as “an intellectual project carried out with the detachment of a scientist.”

Meyer Levin was fascinated by the case and that was probably because he was close to it. He went to the University of Chicago and he was precocious like Leopold and Loeb. As a young Chicago reporter, he helped cover the case for the local paper and he appears in “Compulsion” as the narrator, Sid Silver.

What is interesting about “Compulsion” is that it is long and full of talk and even has a bit of psychological analysis in it. The reading public, writers and film studios were drawn to the book. Leopold and Loeb were curiosities, Jewish boys from good homes and wealthy families. They were young admirers of Dostoevsky because with him crimes could be philosophically justified and they loved Nietzsche for his concept of the superman who was not bound by society or morality. He was above that and they wanted to prove that so were they.

The teenage Leopold and Loeb — prodigies who had graduated from the University of Chicago while still in their teens — were immersed in Dostoevsky (“Crime and Punishment” with its philosophical justification of the crime), Gide, and above all Nietzsche and his notion of the superior man not bound by morality.

“Compulsion” is certainly well written but it is not literary. After all, it is a crime novel much like Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” that came out some 13 years later. What Levin did here was to give the people what they wanted; a crime novel and more than that—a novel about a crime that everyone was aware of. Indeed, it is a crime novel and a thriller but it is also a psychological novel that uses social psychology about issues that the case brought up— what did we know about these rich Chicago Jews and was there anything sexual in this case?

Meyer Levin dared to right about homosexuality when it was still deep in its own closet. He mentions that the Bobby Frank’s body was mutilated in the genital area and he writes about the sexual immaturity of the murderers. We suspect that the two men were in love with each other but we read nothing of them ever being sexual with each other. Could it be that this sexual denial also figures into the case? Then there is the issue of Jewish self-hatred as Freud suggested in the 19th century with the idea that the Jew does not want to pay the toll to be a Jew and that could explain the mutilation of Bobby Frank’s genitals. Levin really captures the wealthy Jewish culture of Chicago at the times and the fact that many Chicago Jews chose not to be especially visible and in fact, at that time, Jewish organizations were quiet and worked quietly. It was not a time for social activism.

Some have remarked that if Leopold and Loeb had to kill someone, it was better for all that they chose a Jewish victim. Had they chosen someone of a different religion, the murder would certainly have been looked at differently as we have seen historically in blood-libel cases. This was not a murder dealing with a ritual; it was a murder for murder’s sake. Here was a crime that was about the anarchy of murder, a crime that resembles in theory the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, what happened in Rwanda and Darfur. Can we assume that this is why we still read “Compulsion”? It seems to me that we now exist in a time when killing and murder are considered horrors of our time. The book might be about a time in history but the crime of Leopold and Loeb is a lasting one; one that will never be forgotten and this is just how it should be.