Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused
I am thrilled to announce my new book, Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused, released in June by East End Press.
Never heard of Major Benjamin Koehler? That was the Army's intention when it squelched the 1914 scandal involving his alleged gropings of subordinates while commander of Fort Terry--a remote coast defense post in eastern Long Island Sound.
"A must-read for 20th century historians," says historian Amy Kasuga Folk.
In the 1910s, the U.S. government was starting to target perceived gays and lesbians. Koehler bore little resemblance to the emerging profile of a sexual "pervert" as poor and effeminate, but when two junior officers annoyed by Koehler's strictness claimed he had groped them, Koehler's unmarried status seemed to lend credence to the allegations. At a time when demonstrated sexual interest in women was becoming a hallmark of a "normal" man, the main woman in Koehler's life was his educated sister, Sophia, who lived with him, providing free labor to the Army. Her letters are among the many sources relied on in the book.
"Social justice meets true-life suspense. You can't put this one down," says best-selling author Nelson DeMille.
Scandal on Plum Island tells the full story of Koehler's troubling case, involving malice at the highest levels of government, changing standards of masculinity, and pushback against women's growing influence.
"An amazing and important story which will surprise many people...a meaningful story with relevance today," says Ann Northrop, activist and co-host of Gay USA.