Dennis Altman, Author . Univ. of Chicago $24 (192p) ISBN 978-0-226-01606-1

Tracing the combined impact of telecommunications, faster air-travel and the Internet on sexual expression the world over, Altman (Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation) historicizes sexual activity while exploring specific changes resulting from advances in technology. Covering such issues as the impact of prostitution and pornography on global economics, and how AIDS affects sexual practices, legislation and the commercialization of sex, he presents a gripping portrait of a world barely able to keep pace—psychologically, sociologically and theologically—with enormous, rapid-fire changes. An AIDS/HIV activist as well as a professor in the School of Politics, Sociology and Anthropology at La Trobe University, Australia, Altman is best when he's most specific—for example, when he compares Bangkok's current reputation with Vienna's as "the global brothel" circa 1900; when he traces the dissemination of U.S. gay culture around the world; or when he discusses how Reagan and Thatcher used traditional "moral panics" to promote their agendas. Drawing upon a wide range of sources and cultural artifacts—including Playboy, U.N. Development Programme reports, Sharon Stone's famous leg crossing in Basic Instinct, and La Cage aux Folles, as well as the theories of Freud, Herbert Marcuse, William Reich and Franz Fanon—Altman ranges outside the usual boundaries of academic research. Offering neither a dire warning nor a reason to rejoice (he sees "the interconnectedness of the world [as] both a threat and an opportunity)—his savvy, energetic book truly maintains a global perspective. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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