In My Queer War, James Lord tells the story of a young man’s exposure to the terrors, dislocations, and horrors of armed conflict.
In 1942, a timid, inexperienced twenty-one-year-old Lord reports to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to enlist in the U.S. Army. His career in the armed forces takes him to Nevada, California, Boston, England, and, eventually, France and Germany, where he witnesses firsthand the ravages of total war on Europe’s land and on its people. Along the way he comes to terms with his own sexuality, experiences the thrill of first love and the chill of disillusionment with his fellow man, and in a moment of great rashness makes the acquaintance of the world’s most renowned artist, who will show him the way to a new life.
My Queer War is a rich and moving record of one man’s maturation in the crucible of the greatest war the world has known. If his war is queer, it is because each man’s experience is strange in its own way. His is a story of universal significance and appeal, told by a wry and eloquent observer of the world and of himself.
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It all began beside the war-torn sea. In Atlantic City. Truly a queer settingâ€”out of place for an epic adventure, let alone a good venue for making a young man ready to perform the daredevil feats of wartime avaiators. Yet this second-rate, overbuilt resort had been dreamed up like the locus of a psychedelic fantasy by the U.S. Army Air Force for the basic training of would-be fliers into the wild blue yonder. All the Xanadu pleasure domes left vacant by wartime retrenchment were thought well suited for billeting transient thousands of glassy-eyed rookies.
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James Lord’s books include A Giacometti Portrait, first published in 1965, and Giacometti: A Biography (FSG, 1985), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent work is Mythic Giacometti (FSG, 2003). He died in 2009.