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The Century of Sex: Playboy's History of the Sexual Revolution, 1900-1999by James R Petersen
Synopses & Reviews
In The Century of Sex James R. Petersen presents a sweeping history that argues that the "sexual revolution" of the sixties and seventies was part of a larger social evolution. This evolution began generations before the advent of penicillin, Playboy, or the pill — and produced seismic cultural shifts that have changed the way Americans live forever.
Beginning at the turn of the century with the pioneering efforts of free love radicals and progressive reformers, The Century of Sex chronicles the ensuing struggles of activists for sexual liberation against the agents of repression. Petersen weaves a decade-by-decade narrative filled with colorful characters, a panoply of causes, and unforgettable events. He profiles activities of censors like Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, and other agencies such as the Legion of Decency and the Moral Majority, and culminates with the prosecutorial inquisitions of Kenneth Starr. He introduces heroines such as Ida Craddock, who wrote one of the nation's first marriage manuals (and paid for the act with her life), and Margaret Sanger, who fought with Comstock over birth control — and won. The book covers America's periodic moral panics, from the white slave hysteria of 1910 to the child porn scare of the 1980s, as well as the scandals, from film star Fatty Arbuckle's trial for rape and murder to the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton.
Throughout the narrative, The Century of Sex explores the ways in which historical tumults of the 1900s affected sex — and vice versa — through the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, two world wars, the Cold War, the sixties, the disco era, and the age of AIDS. Italso traces the changes wrought by medical science, social science, and technology, from the vibrator to home video to Viagra.
The Century of Sex is a trenchant chronicle of a turbulent era that proves the truth behind the song lyrics from the 1944 movie Pin-Up Girl: "Battles are won in the day time / But history is made at night."
Includes bibliographical references (P. 499-525) and index.
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