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American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men
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Akashic Books 2013
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Description
“Not only is this book the best sort of true-crime writing, but it is also a stunning exploration of the concept of manhood in America” (Sebastian Junger, New York Times–bestselling author of War).
 
Through six detailed accounts of murders involving gay men, American Honor Killings examines the facts of cases that are too often politicized, sensationalized, or simply ignored. David McConnell researched killings from small-town Alabama to San Quentin’s death row, and here recounts both notorious and lesser-known crimes.
 
We may tend to think these stories involve either the perpetrator’s internal struggle over his own identity or a victim’s fatally miscalculated proposition. They’re almost never that simple. These riveting narratives reveal how different factors played into each case, among them ideas and beliefs about masculinity. Together, they form a secret American history of rage and desire. In each story, victims, murderers, friends, and relatives come breathtakingly alive. The result is a true-crime book of unusual power, depth, and psychological insight—“a journalistic tour de force made all the more impressive by jailhouse interviews” (Publishers Weekly).
 
“A masterpiece of reportage . . . At turns heartbreaking and terrifying . . . If Truman Capote were alive today, he would die of envy. David McConnell has taken the mantle of great American nonfiction writer.” —Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/05/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781617751530
ASIN:
B00BD7V1QG
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APA Citation (style guide)

David McConnell. (2013). American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

David McConnell. 2013. American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

David McConnell, American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. Akashic Books, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

David McConnell. American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. Akashic Books, 2013.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: David McConnell is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Silver Hearted, 2010. His short fiction and journalism have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including The Literary Review (UK), Granta and Prospect Magazine (UK). His novel The Firebrat came out in 2003. He's the former co-chair of the Lambda Literary Foundation. McConnell lives in New York City.
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fullDescription
“Not only is this book the best sort of true-crime writing, but it is also a stunning exploration of the concept of manhood in America” (Sebastian Junger, New York Times–bestselling author of War).
 
Through six detailed accounts of murders involving gay men, American Honor Killings examines the facts of cases that are too often politicized, sensationalized, or simply ignored. David McConnell researched killings from small-town Alabama to San Quentin’s death row, and here recounts both notorious and lesser-known crimes.
 
We may tend to think these stories involve either the perpetrator’s internal struggle over his own identity or a victim’s fatally miscalculated proposition. They’re almost never that simple. These riveting narratives reveal how different factors played into each case, among them ideas and beliefs about masculinity. Together, they form a secret American history of rage and desire. In each story, victims, murderers, friends, and relatives come breathtakingly alive. The result is a true-crime book of unusual power, depth, and psychological insight—“a journalistic tour de force made all the more impressive by jailhouse interviews” (Publishers Weekly).
 
“A masterpiece of reportage . . . At turns heartbreaking and terrifying . . . If Truman Capote were alive today, he would die of envy. David McConnell has taken the mantle of great American nonfiction writer.” —Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: LA Weekly
      • content:

        "McConnell, who is gay, is convinced he has written a book that no straight man could have written, and he's probably right. Navigating the depressing world of these horrific murders would discourage all but the most determined, passionate writers. Finding the humanity in these killers and the nuance in these most inhumane killings would challenge all but the most compassionate of writers."

      • premium: False
      • source: Huffington Post (Recommended true-crime book)
      • content: "McConnell pays close attention to character, scene, and illuminating details, while questioning masculinity and patriarchal institutions."
      • premium: False
      • source: Oxford American Magazine (Editor's Pick)
      • content: "McConnell's research is impressive, his thorough approach itself an 'argument against the destruction or loss of a single detail.' Older, well-documented cases are reenergized with new information, and the stories of the more recent murders are told, for the first time, with the layers of complexity they deserve. Something must be said of this book's timeliness, the experience of reading it after a memorably violent year in America...A book like this is helpful, even downright necessary. It advises against lumping each atrocity into the same pile, reminding us to examine the cases separately--the only way we can begin to understand the roots of this violence and how me might squelch it...McConnell's approach is effective because it's literary, not academic: through extensive research, he's crafted engaging narratives, each populated by characters that demand our attention."
      • premium: False
      • source: Lambda Literary Review
      • content: "As this country again focuses on its endemic violence, David McConnell's book couldn't have arrived at a more apt time. By delving deep into the sexual brutality typically explained away with micro-waved Freudianism, he's given us a work that is searing, personal and yet with a clarity that adds to the national conversation...It's this truth telling, the sifting of sad ashes, that sets this book far above typical genre fare. Reading American Honor Killings is like driving by a forest fire, one vast yet still secretive--a fire that's been burning for a long time."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Advocate (Hot Sheet for March 1, 2013)
      • content: "Some may mistakenly think honor killings happen only in far-off, less developed countries, and only to women. But writer David McConnell's collection of short nonfiction pieces about honor killings in America is a searing look at masculinity and male sexual violence. The deep, vivid examination of these cases is masterful and arresting."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Advocate
      • content: "In a culture where artists and celebs and everyday LGBT folks talk of being bullied but never of being the bully, McConnell's exposé challenges us to acknowledge the natural impulse to violence that rests in everyone."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Advocate (Interview)
      • content: "In a culture where artists and celebs and everyday LGBT folks talk of being bullied, but never of being the bully, McConnell's expose challenges us to acknowledge the natural impulse to violence that rest in everyone."
      • premium: False
      • source: Next Magazine
      • content: "Come to these cases for the same reason McConnell does--not for the gore and depravity, but for the wish to understand what shadowy part of American manhood can be so volatile, leading again and again to tragedy. McConnell's careful consideration and painstaking research make American Honor Killings a worthwhile and valuable book."
      • premium: False
      • source: Interview Magazine
      • content: "Whether the killers were spurred on by personal slights to their idea of manliness or a fanatical ideology, there is a sense of shattered psychologies that haunts both these pages and the larger American landscape. The eyes of many men in American Honor Killings are hard to look into, but this excellent book makes a case for doing so--even if what's there is not so easy to define."
      • premium: False
      • source: Queer Reader
      • content: "Some of the finest non-fiction crime writing can be found in David McConnell's new book, American Honor Killings. At its best, Mr. McConnell's writing compares favorably to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song. It is entirely appropriate that this book is dedicated to Edmund White, because, like Mr. White, David McConnell is the master of both the telling detail and the occasional punchline...it is a remarkable...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 24, 2012
        Utilizing an empathetic narrative nonfiction approach, novelist McConnell (The Silver Hearted), co-chair of the Lambda Literary Foundation, casts a humanizing eye upon monstrous deeds, but fails to prove his central thesis that the somewhat high-profile murders of gay men he revisits are the result of “pure masculinity enraged.” Covering 1999 to 2011, he attempts to demonstrate how the adherence to a rigid definition of masculinity caused these particular murderers to commit their crimes, and the case of Darrell Madden almost proves the point as McConnell, in a journalistic tour de force made all the more impressive by jailhouse interviews, traces the killer’s trajectory from traumatized farm boy to gay porn pinup, white supremacist, and eventually murderer of Steve Domer. But the central premise, detailed on the opening page (“The fact is, all relationships between men—friendship, rivalry... murder—are casually characterized by sexual metaphors...”) simply does not play out in the combination of research, interviews, and restated news coverage of the murders of George Weber, Gary Matson, and Scott Amedure. Even the author seems unconvinced by the conjecture and muddled references used to connect the dots. Adoring physical descriptions of the killers contrast oddly with misogynistic descriptions of women, but it does not undermine McConnell’s unquestionable skill as a writer, which gives both literary heft and immediacy to the narratives. Sociologically, however, little is revealed.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2012
        A graphic recounting of a series of gruesome murders involving young males. Lambda Literary Society co-chair McConnell (The Silver Hearted, 2010, etc.) explores "a shadowy and explosive tension...in the minds of young men," which he considers to be the "prime mover of violence" in certain cases identified by lawyers and activists as "hate crimes" and "gay panic." The author equates that tension with a fear of real or apparent exposure of unmanliness or homosexuality, and thus, he believes the killings he discusses resemble vengeance-driven "honor killings." While his conclusion may be questionable, McConnell convincingly shows how fluid terms like "gay" and "straight" can actually be. One such example is the case of Darrell Madden, a former homosexual porn star who became an anti-gay neo-Nazi and murdered a homosexual in 2007. This was one of five cases where young men, with homosexual pasts or fears, killed homosexuals, or suspected homosexuals, in crimes discussed as hate crimes. The author compares these to the Wyoming killing of Matthew Shepard or the murder of African-American James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists. "Hatred was a critical factor in these murders. It would be poisonous to pretend otherwise," he writes, but it is not the whole story. In McConnell's opinion, a review of the perpetrators, victims and circumstances indicates more--"hatred often seems to exist prior to its having a clear object." The author's case studies reflect an intensive investigation into the economic and cultural backgrounds of a wide variety of extremist cultures, research that involved interviews with law enforcement officials, families of victims and the convicted criminals themselves. A shocking look at the subculture of violent crime, not for the fainthearted.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2012

        Homophobia is not accepted as a mitigating circumstance in murder, but there is no doubt that men are still murdered for being gay. From Jon Schmitz ("The Jenny Jones Killer") to John Katehis (the teenage hustler who murdered radio personality George Weber), novelist McConnell (cochair, Lambda Literary Foundation; The Silver Hearted) has compiled a number of these cases and looks into the culture of masculinity for clues to the dynamics behind these killings. Many of the murderers discussed here belonged to a hypermasculine subculture (e.g., skinheads, gangs, fundamentalist religious cults), while others acted alone. But in all the cases, some affront to the killer's sense of manhood seemed to require a very public act of violence, as if the violence itself reaffirmed his masculinity. Some of the killers might have been secretly bisexual or gender confused, but not so often as to be the common thread in these murders. VERDICT With no clear answers, but some very intriguing questions, these vignettes of masculine pride and rage will appeal to those interested in gender politics and gay studies as well as true crime fans.--Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

popularity
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“Not only is this book the best sort of true-crime writing, but it is also a stunning exploration of the concept of manhood in America” (Sebastian Junger, New York Times–bestselling author of War).
 
Through six detailed accounts of murders involving gay men, American Honor Killings examines the facts of cases that are too often politicized, sensationalized, or simply ignored. David McConnell researched killings from small-town Alabama to San Quentin’s death row, and here recounts both notorious and lesser-known crimes.
 
We may tend to think these stories involve either the perpetrator’s internal struggle over his own identity or a victim’s fatally miscalculated proposition. They’re almost never that simple. These riveting narratives reveal how different factors played into each case, among them ideas and beliefs about masculinity. Together, they form a secret American history...
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awards
      • source: American Library Association
      • value: Stonewall Book Award - Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award
subtitle
Desire and Rage Among Men
publisher
Akashic Books
bisacCodes
      • code: SOC004000
      • description: Social Science / Criminology
      • code: SOC012000
      • description: Social Science / LGBTQ+ Studies / Gay Studies
      • code: TRU002000
      • description: True Crime / Murder / General