Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution-An Unfettered History

David Allyn, Author Little Brown and Company $40 (404p) ISBN 978-0-316-03930-7
Successfully treading the fine line between a serious chronicle and sensationalism in his account of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s in the U.S., Princeton historian Allyn mixes a smooth narrative of events (e.g., the legalization of birth control, abortion and interracial marriage), the famous (Hugh Hefner, Masters and Johnson) and not so famous (Jeff Poland of the Sexual Freedom League), with occasional analytic excursions into dramatic changes in society and individual lives. The book ranges widely, from Helen Gurley Brown's packaging of sexual liberalism in Sex and the Single Girl to novels promoting sexual utopias (i.e., The Harrad Experiment), the decline of the college policy of in loco parentis, the uses of sexual liberation by suburban swingers and political radicals like the Weathermen, and the commercialization of sex. Based on interviews with participants in these activities (including such figures as Barney Rosset, Rita Mae Brown and Andrea Dworkin, as well as ordinary people), and materials from the period, Allyn ascribes full credit to feminism and gay liberation for social changes that touched almost all Americans. Readers who lived through these heady events will appreciate his fresh perspective, while those of his generation (he was born in 1969) may be amazed to learn, for example, that birth control was illegal in many states as late as 1965. Allyn's broad sweep occasionally gives short shrift to historical background in areas like birth control or obscenity in literature. And he falters badly in his final chapter, virtually ignoring the feminist defense of sexual freedom and putting too much emphasis on the coalition of antipornography feminists and the religious right in his recounting of the decline of sexual liberation. Overall, though, Allyn's work is as exuberant and expansive as the movement he observes. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Paperback - 381 pages - 978-0-415-92942-4
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