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Arsenal of Democracy
We Were Going to Win, Or Die There
From Winchester to Cedar Creek
Lincoln and McClellan at War
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Infinity Beckoned
North Korea and the World
Nine Days in May

The Last DeploymentThe Last Deployment

How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq

Bronson Lerner

Finalist, Minnesota Book Awards

Finalist, Over the Rainbow 2011 selection, American Library Association

Amazon Top Ten 10 Gay & Lesbian Books of 2011

Narrated by Kevin Pierce

Available from Audible

Book published by The University of Wisconsin Press

In 2003, after serving five and a half years as a carpenter in a North Dakota National Guard engineer unit, Bronson Lemer was ready to leave the military behind. But six months short of completing his commitment to the army, Lemer was deployed on a yearlong tour of duty to Iraq. Leaving college life behind in the Midwest, he yearns for a lost love and quietly dreams of a future as an openly gay man outside the military. He discovers that his father’s lifelong example of silent strength has taught him much about being a man, and these lessons help him survive in a war zone and to conceal his sexuality, as he is required to do by the U.S. military.

The Last Deployment is a moving, provocative chronicle of one soldier’s struggle to reconcile military brotherhood with self-acceptance. Lemer captures the absurd nuances of a soldier’s daily life: growing a mustache to disguise his fear, wearing pantyhose to battle sand fleas, and exchanging barbs with Iraqis while driving through Baghdad. But most strikingly, he describes the poignant reality faced by gay servicemen and servicewomen, who must mask their identities while serving a country that disowns them. Often funny, sometimes anguished, The Last Deployment paints a deeply personal portrait of war in the twenty-first century.

Bronson Lerner served in the North Dakota Army National Guard for six years, including deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. His writing has appeared in Blue Earth Review, The Rekjavik Grapevine, and Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers. He teaches English and humanities courses at Turtle Mountain Community College near Belcourt, North Dakota.


“Lemer writes with clarity, temperance, and an eye for detail.... Without ever becoming polemical, the book shows graphically how ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ cruelly affects gay soldiers who play by the rules.”

—David Bergman, editor of Gay American Autobiography: Writings from Whitman to Sedaris

“This is extremely touching material. Lemer describes the emotional turbulence of being gay in the military, tortured with the strong natural desire to connect with his fellow soldiers yet unable to reveal himself because of his sexuality. There is real pain in that kind of personal concealment, and it permeates this moving, substantive account.”

Bay Area Reporter

“A masterful balance of straightforward wartime reporting, anguised self-reflection, and a wealth of absurd asides. ”

Pittsburgh's Out

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University Press Audiobooks