YANK!  A New Musical Historical Background

YANK! gets it title from Yank Magazine, which grew to become the most widely read and most popular magazine in the history of the U.S. Army. By the end of World War II, twenty-three various editions of Yank Magazine had been published. At the height of the magazine's operations, there were printing presses in Honolulu, Cairo, Tokyo, Okinawa, Rome, Trinidad, Saipan and other places, and the weekly achieved a worldwide circulation of 2,600,000. It is thought to have been read by ten million. The magazine, which was staffed entirely by enlisted soldiers, printed its last issue in December 1945, realizing for the War Department a profit of $1,000,000.

For more information about Yank Magazine, check out:

YANK! explores the lives of soldiers: the camaradarie, the tension, the loneliness, and the love. Here are some sources that inspired us. Check out:

  • Coming Out Under Fire
    A book that caused so many to rediscover the stories of gay and lesbian servicememebers... and helped inspire YANK! We were thrilled its author, Allan Berubé, who passed away this year, was able to come see the show during its run at NYMF.

  • The Good War
    Perhaps the best “people’s history” of WW2, This great site has interviews between author Studs Terkel and US veterans.

  • Men of WWII: Fighting Men at Ease
    This book of Army photos taken during WWII but never before published (along with its companion volume about men in the Navy, now sadly out of print) is an eye opening look at images of camaraderie. While almost certainly not gay per se, the easy physical intimacy and open affection these men display towards each other are a reminder that ideas of masculinity have changed greatly over the last 70 years.

  • The Struggle Continues
    Unfortunately the issue of integrating gay men and women into the Armed Forces is still with us. Check out the status of the ongoing struggle at the website for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

YANK! is a love song to both the lyricism of 1940s Broadway musicals, and also the movies turned out by Hollywood during the war -- the platoon "It takes one of every kind" movies as well as the musicals. Here are some of our favorites:

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