A Saving Remnant
The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds
By Martin Duberman
(New Press, The, Hardcover, 9781595583239, 336pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
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By the time their paths first crossed in the 1960s, Barbara Deming and David
McReynolds had each charted a unique course through the political and social worlds of the American left. Deming, a feminist, journalist, and political activist with an abiding belief in nonviolence, had been an out lesbian since the age of sixteen. The first openly gay man to run for president of the United States, on the Socialist Party ticket, McReynolds was also a longtime opponent of the Vietnam War—he was among the first activists to publicly burn a draft card after this became a felony—and friend to leading activists and artists from Bayard Rustin to Quentin Crisp.
In this remarkable dual biography, the prize-winning historian Martin Duberman
reveals a vital historical milieu of activism, radical ideas, and coming to terms with homosexuality when the gay rights movement was still in its nascent stages. With a cast of characters that includes intellectuals, artists, and activists from the critic Edmund White and the writer Mary McCarthy to the young Alvin Ailey and Allen Ginsberg, A Saving Remnant is a brilliant achievement from one of our most important historians.
Martin Duberman is Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Lehman College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He was the founder and for ten years the first director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the CUNY Graduate School. He has authored over twenty books, including James Russell Lowell, finalist for the National Book Award; Stonewall; the memoir Cures: A Gay Man’s Odyssey; The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in biography; and, most recently, Waiting to Land (The New Press). Duberman himself has received numerous awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Lambda Book Award, the George Freedley Memorial Award, and, in 2008, the American Historical Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Scholarship.
". . . [D]etailed and absorbing . . . [a]t a time when the country's poor are struggling, war rages on and and the word "socialist" is mostly just an insult hurled at any left-leaning politician or policy, there is something refreshing and inspiring about this story of unabashed radicals at work."
New York Times Book Review
"[A] brilliant and remarkable biography . . . essential."
"A fascinating dual biography . . . A Saving Remnant is an in-depth study of what it means to live the life of someone single-mindedly committed to a cause."
The Gay and Lesbian Review
Female presidential candidates and gay marriages were unimaginable during the middle of the twentieth century. Discrimination and marginalization were daily facts of life for anyone who wasn’t a straight, white male. The fight for basic civil rights has always been fraught with struggle and strife. It was the common goals of equality and acceptance that led the lives of Deming, an out lesbian, and McReynolds, an openly gay man (the first to run for president of the U.S., on the Socialist Party ticket in 1980), to intersect in the socially turbulent 1960s. McReynolds, a left-wing writer and antiwar protester still alive and kicking at 81, was a friend and contemporary of Allen Ginsberg and Alvin Ailey. Deming, a feminist and tireless advocate for nonviolent social change who died of cancer in 1984, was romantically involved with artist Mary Meigs for nearly 20 years. Duberman, a well-respected history professor and Pulitzer Prize finalist, chronicles the fascinating lives and complex friendship of these two passionate, radical activists in this dazzlingly detailed dual biography.