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Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade

Men in Eden William Drummond Stewart and Same Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade The American West of the nineteenth century was a world of freedom and adventure for men of every stripe not least also those who admired and desired other men Among these sojourners was William Drumm

  • Title: Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade
  • Author: William Benemann
  • ISBN: 9780803237780
  • Page: 229
  • Format: Paperback
  • The American West of the nineteenth century was a world of freedom and adventure for men of every stripe not least also those who admired and desired other men Among these sojourners was William Drummond Stewart, a flamboyant Scottish nobleman who found in American culture of the 1830s and 1840s a cultural milieu of openness in which men could pursue same sex relationshipThe American West of the nineteenth century was a world of freedom and adventure for men of every stripe not least also those who admired and desired other men Among these sojourners was William Drummond Stewart, a flamboyant Scottish nobleman who found in American culture of the 1830s and 1840s a cultural milieu of openness in which men could pursue same sex relationships This book traces Stewart s travels from his arrival in America in 1832 to his return to Murthly Castle in Perthshire, Scotland, with his French Canadian Cree Indian companion, Antoine Clement, one of the most skilled hunters in the Rockies Benemann chronicles Stewart s friendships with such notables as Kit Carson, William Sublette, Marcus Whitman, and Jim Bridger He describes the wild Renaissance costume party held by Stewart and Clement upon their return to America a journey that ended in scandal Through Stewart s letters and novels, Benemann shows that Stewart was one of many men drawn to the sexual freedom offered by the West His book provides a tantalizing new perspective on the Rocky Mountain fur trade and the role of homosexuality in shaping the American West.

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    1 thought on “Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade

    1. You’ve heard of William Clark, Kit Carson, John C. Fremont, and Sacajawea’s baby boy, but such is the nature of the erasure of gay lives from history that I bet you have never heard of William Drummond Stewart, who knew them all. Stewart left England in the early 1830s looking for that land where a man could live as he wished and love whom he wished. He headed for the Rocky Mountains, involved himself in the world of the Mountain Men, fur traders for the most part, and found adventure, sport [...]

    2. William Benemann examines the life of early 19th century Scottish nobleman and adventurer of the American frontier William Drummond Stewart.After exorcizing the ghost of Foucault and his thesis that homosexuality was a late-19th century construction, Benemann reads between the lines of letters, journals, novels (including two by Stewart himself), and memoirs. Stewart's longest same-sex involvement was with the part-Native, part-French Antoine Clement, whom Stewart brought back across the Atlanti [...]

    3. The problem of the book is pretty fascinating. Historical nonfiction is researched pretty vigorously, but how does an author relate or read into a story in which one particular aspect can only be guessed at through innuendo and assumptions? That's the problem here. There is no overt homosexuality in play here, most likely because it was closeted and unmentioned in letters and documents. All Benemann has to go on are suggestions viewed from the vantage point of the present day. As he chastises ot [...]

    4. Fascinating, even if much out of necessity is speculation and reading between the lines. How to write about history when the narrative thread is unspoken, and meaning deliberately obscured? Benemann does it well. The result is surreal at times, and those are the parts that are historically documented. What Benemann does is construct a narrative that makes it all seem less surreal, and more understandable.

    5. Well written and thoroughly researched. What dissatisfaction I have springs from the inherent difficulties of wringing definite conclusions from historical evidence–a daunting proposition under the best of circumstances, and doubly so for the present subject matter. In any event, this is a comprehensive account of Sir William's life, notable as a treatment of an under-appreciated historical figure in addition to the more nebulous (but also interesting) matter of the same-sex dynamics in questi [...]

    6. Gerry B's Book Reviews5.00 BeesAs a history buff I’m always on the lookout for new and heretofore unknown discoveries, and William Benemann has served up a dilly with his intriguing biography, Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade [Bison Books, October 1, 2012].William Stewart was a Scottish nobleman—19th Laird of Grantully and 7th Baronet of Murthly—with an adventurous spirit, and a larger than life personality. Being gay, and at odds wi [...]

    7. After finishing Zimmerman's book I began William Benemann's Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and same-sex desire in the Rocky Mountain fur trade (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012). Benemann has written a biography of one of those fascinating 19th-century individuals who draw historians to stories. Born to a Scottish noble family he made his way to America and was enthralled by the world of trappers and mountain men on the Rocky Mountain frontiers. Individuals like Stewart are fas [...]

    8. Wow. The fashionable dandy, the skilled hunter, the patron of the arts, the fearless explorer, the youth-obsessed lover, the military martinet, the inept novelist, the aristocratic laird this guy's story encompassed a wide range of personae. His life provides an unique window into the many ways of being gay in early nineteenth century America. So little is known about what what life was like during this period. It reads like a beautifully filmed BBC drama you don't want to end.

    9. Stranger than fiction. So much of historical narrative has been stripped of it's sexual dynamic. Previously focused on the deleterious effect of homophobia on 19th and 20th century artists, Men in Eden suggests to me a whole new dynamic of survival and achievement, adaptation and boldness in the pursuit of individual self fulfillment.

    10. Fascinating subject matter (queer fur traders and the dandies who loved them in the antebellum United States) but a somewhat jumbled telling that ultimately under-delivers (probably as a result of mostly incomplete or absent source material).

    11. When I was reading this book, my head was crowded with so many thinkings, but when I finished it, the only thing left is a kind of wistful feeling.

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