Sexidemic: A Cultural History of Sex in America

Lawrence R. Samuel. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (244p) ISBN 978-1-4422-2040-9
In the "first real cultural history of sexuality in the United States since the end of World War II," Samuel (The American Dream: A Cultural History) provides a thoughtful overview and analysis of the complicated attitude and approach Americans have taken towards sex over the past six decades. From The Joy of Sex to Fifty Shades of Grey, Playboy to the Internet, swingers to abstinence clubs, he covers the pendulum of acceptance and repression, and includes discussion of how experts like Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and Dr. Ruth have influenced the field. While Samuel leans towards a dry, just-the-facts approach as gleaned from magazines, newspapers, and pop culture, he keeps the ball rolling through the years, providing numerous leaping off points for further study. The result is a provocative look at how America's Puritan heritage continues to inform cultural attitudes, leading to an uncomfortable, even unhealthy relationship with sex. Samuel claims that "the problems associated with sex have outweighed the pleasures it has offered," and he may be right, given a half century's evidence. However, the topic may simply be too vast to be properly covered in the space he's given it. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/18/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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