Monday, March 26, 2012
Sex-Crime Panic, by Neil Miller
(pb; 2002: non-fiction)
From the back cover:
"In 1955, following the sexual assault and brutal murder of two children in Sioux City, Iowa, police, in an attempt to quell public hysteria, arrested 20 men who authorities never claimed had anything to do with the crimes. Labeled as sexual psychopaths under a state law that lumped homosexuals with child molesters and murderers, the men were sentenced to a mental hospital until deemed 'cured.' Neil Miller's carefully researched account shows how the paranoia of the McCarthy era destroyed the lives of gay men in the American heartland. A gripping story of murder and anti-gay hysteria, Sex-Crime Panic presents a dark and strange chapter in the history of postwar America."
This excellent non-fiction book focuses on a facet of "1950s paranoia" (which mirrors, in many ways, our current political and social climate) that often gets overlooked in the mainstream media.
Sex-Crime doesn't read like a stodgy historical recounting of a by-gone era; it reads like a reader-engaging, fast-moving overview of societal stresses and biases, as well as a necessary reminder of what mistakes we, as a nation, shouldn't revisit.
Timely work: worth owning, this.