O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm

Jonathan Margolis, Author
Jonathan Margolis, Author . Grove $24 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1786-1
Reviewed on: 08/23/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-09-944155-7
Paperback - 401 pages - 978-0-8021-4216-0
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According to the World Health Organization, more than a hundred million acts of sexual intercourse take place every day. In this immensely entertaining and informative book, Margolis lays out in glorious and rich detail the widely varied human experience of sex beyond the simple and necessary act of reproduction. From straightforward biology of the human body to the mind-bendingly various cultural norms and practices within human civilizations past and present, Margolis presents a beautifully written, deep-focus view of human sexual pursuit, gratification and frustration. According to Margolis, the orgasm has been cherished, misunderstood, feared and pandered to throughout the ages. He cites anthropological research indicating that while the innate human tendency toward "pair bonding" holds true, sex and pleasure were once free and synonymous. Orgasm, with its white-hot physical pleasure and consciousness-altering effects, was worshiped in many developing cultures. As civilizations became more sophisticated about reproduction and, sadly, property rights, orgasms and who gives, receives and enjoys them, became increasingly regulated. In the West particularly, the female orgasm—always a mystery to the mostly patriarchal power structure—was increasingly seen as a threat to the advancement of social development. In the modern age, science has taken a front seat in the understanding and exploration of this most basic of human experience, with mixed results. While women have made strides toward orgasmic equality, in Margolis's view there is still some way to go. Neither leering nor squeamish, Margolis has created a fresh, compelling work guaranteed to ignite much late-night conversation. Agent, Jane Gelfman. (Nov.)

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