Tinderbox by Robert W. Fieseler
The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation

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Powerfully written and consistently engaging, the book will hopefully shed more light on the gay community’s incredible and tragic journey to equality. A momentous work of sociological and civil rights history.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

An essential work of American civil rights history, Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community.


Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.
 

About Robert W. Fieseler

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Published June 5, 2018 by Liveright. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Tinderbox
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 01 2018

Powerfully written and consistently engaging, the book will hopefully shed more light on the gay community’s incredible and tragic journey to equality. A momentous work of sociological and civil rights history.

Read Full Review of Tinderbox: The Untold Story o... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Parul Sehgal on May 29 2018

The book is loving, sensitive and diligent. It is also overstuffed, unfocused and vexing. When I say “Tinderbox” should be taught in journalism schools, I mean it as praise and rebuke.

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