What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution

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Simon & Schuster, 1997 - Social Science - 448 pages
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In many respects, the Sexual Revolution was the catalyst that set in motion social life as we know it at the end of the twentieth century. Yet many of us have difficulty remembering - or never knew - just when and where the first shots were fired, how the battle was waged, and who fought on its front lines. In this first popular history of the turbulent last three decades of American sexual culture, journalist John Heidenry completes our sexual education. His startling you-are-there account takes us behind the closed doors of clubs and courtrooms, research labs and bedrooms, to find out who did what to whom - and how, when, where, and why - in the wide world of human sexuality. In cinematic style, the narrative jump-cuts dramatically between story lines, covering a dazzling array of people, places, and events - both little-known and headline-making - as Heidenry expertly navigates the currents of sexual manners and mores. We witness the coming of age of the science of sexology; the burgeoning of popular culture, in which magazines such as Screw and films such as Deep Throat won fans and fanned controversies over freedom of expression; the movement for the rights of gay men, lesbians, and other sexual minorities; and the effect of all these innovations and upheavals on the general public, which gained a new sexual awareness even as it lost its consensus on premarital sex, abortion, and virtually every other sex-related issue. All in all, it was a cultural earthquake whose aftertremors can still be felt - in science, the arts, business, media, and the day-to-day lives of ordinary mortals, for whom sex is, in Heidenry's phrase, "the poor woman's or poor man's grand opera". Now, at last, awatershed era has found a writer who does justice to its impact and its aftermath.

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User Review  - pjsullivan - LibraryThing

They said that the birth control pill would change everything. It almost did, for a decade or two, until STDs, libidinal burnout, and the Meese Commission put a stop to the fun. This book is a ... Read full review

WHAT WILD ECSTASY: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A detailed and engrossing history of the sexual revolution, though at points marred by an uneven understanding of the landscape. Heidenry (Theirs Was the Kingdom, 1993), former editor of Penthouse ... Read full review



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About the author (1997)

John Heidenry is a native of St. Louis and was the founding editor, in 1977, of "St. Louis" magazine and the "St. Louis Literary Supplement," He is currently the Executive Editor of "The Week," The author of several previous books, he lives in New York City.

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