American Historian in a Dark Time
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Published in: May-June 2018 issue.


The Rest of It: Hustlers, Cocaine, Depression, and Then Some, 1976–1988
by Martin Duberman
Duke Univ. Press, 240 pages, $27.95



AT ONE POINT in this account of twelve difficult years in his life, Martin Duberman describes a 1981 encounter he had with a woman at a party. In his telling, Sally was a self-described liberal, feminist, ex-Marxist lawyer who owned a Manhattan townhouse and employed “servants.” She had contempt for Martin Luther King, Jr., for promiscuity, and for people who lacked the drive to get ahead in life. She reserved her pity for people who had no children. For two hours, Duberman listened to what readers will easily recognize as pretentious claptrap. When he got home, he wrote in his diary that he should have “swatted the smug bitch.” Still, she got under his skin, and he spent the night feeling sadness and guilt about his life as a gay man.

            Throughout The Rest of It, the author re-creates experiences from his past in ways that seem calculated to exasperate his readers.

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Daniel Burr, who lives in Covington, Kentucky, is a frequent contributor to this magazine.



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