Saturday, March 05, 2011

Book Review: Rereading Sex

I'm a sucker for history. I get that from my dad. In high school I was particularly interested in the Revolutionary War, the Holocaust, and Women's History. But, as I've been working on my thesis, I've become more and more interested in the history of sexual discourse and law in the U.S. It's simply fascinating.

The author of Rereading Sex: Battles over sexual knowledge and suppression in 19th century America, Helen Lefkowitz-Horowitz details the different sexual conversations that were occurring throughout the 19th century, as well as legal battles, common medical beliefs, and how industrialization affected these attitudes.  She does an excellent job of offering complete, in-depth analyses of the emergence of various movements, and provides fantastic documentation to substantiate her claims.

But, I didn't just like this book because of how well it was written {although, that clearly plays a part!}, but also because I learned a whole bunch of new stuff! For example, did you know that before the Civil War there was a pretty strong "free love" type movement that developed to counter many of the religious claims on sexuality and marriage? I sure didn't. I also didn't know just how tied up in English common law our own obscenity laws have been historically.

If you're a sex nerd {as in, you like reading scholarly work about....} or you're a history nerd, or a law nerd, you should maybe pick up this book. It took me longer than normal to read {this happens a lot when I read non-fiction}, but was well worth the time and effort {and the good news is that I've seen it at almost every Half-Price Books I've been to; so it will be cheap!}.

Happy Reading!

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