Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life

James Jones, Author, James Howard Jones, Preface by W. W. Norton & Company $39.95 (937p) ISBN 978-0-393-04086-9
Kinsey assembled more case histories on erotic practice than anyone before him and claimed that he accomplished that feat with scientific methodology. However, writes Jones (Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments), he was no ""collecting machine [but] a genuine revolutionary...who intended to attack Victorian morality and to promote an ethic of tolerance."" Beginning as an entomologist, Kinsey was obsessed by the evidences of variation that spilled over, he was certain, into every form of animal life. What was normal, he concluded, was only what was often done, and he exploited his taxonomic skills to establish such patterns in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), a deliberately dry yet subversive compendium that sold more copies than any other book since Gone with the Wind. Had the public known, Jones reveals, what Kinsey's inner demons were and the secrets of his own sex practices and bisexuality, the storm around his book would have been far greater. Kinsey established that Americans ""routinely violated prescribed behavior,"" and although he protected his research flanks better in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), he was, by its publication, involved in group sex with his research group, his life spinning out of control. When he died of a heart ailment at 62 in 1956, he had just recorded his 7985th case history. Jones, a history professor at the Univ. of Houston who began his study of Kinsey in 1970, has written a definitive work, conveying trust by handling his sensational data unsensationally. Readers will be riveted. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 937 pages - 978-0-7628-3820-2
Paperback - 937 pages - 978-0-393-32724-3
Open Ebook - 938 pages - 978-0-393-24534-9
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