Writer: James R. Petersen
Title: The Century of Sex
Subtitle: Playboy’s History of the Sexual Revolution 1900-1999
Edition: First Edition
Foreword: Hugh M. Hefner
Place of Publication: New York
Publisher: Grove Press
Date of Publication: 1999
Pages: xi+548; index, 527
Illustrations: 121 colour and black and white plates and pictures
Front Jacket Photo: Playboy Archives
Jacket Design by Charles Rue Woods
Binding: Boards in duotone dust jacket
Original Price: USD 35.00
Entry No: 2010011
Entry Date: 17th August 2010
The Century of Sex is a comprehensive chronicle of sexual mores, relations, and politics in the twentieth century. James R. Petersen argues that the “Sexual Revolution” began generations before the advent of penicillin, Playboy, and the Pill –and ultimately produced seismic cultural shifts that have changed forever the way Americans live.
Beginning at the turn of the century with the pioneering efforts of Free Love radicals, The Century of Sex chronicles the ensuing struggles of activists for sexual liberation against the agents of repression. Petersen weaves a decade-by-decade narrative packed with colorful characters, a panoply of causes, and unforgettable events. He profiles the activities of censors like Anthony Comstock –head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice –and agencies such as the Legion of Decency and the Moral Majority, and culminates with the prosecutorial inquisitions of Kenneth Star. He introduces heroines such as Ida Craddock, who wrote one of the nation’s first marriage manuals (and paid for the act with her life). Margaret Sanger, who fought with Comstock over birth –and won - and heroes like Alfred Charles Kinsey, whose groundbreaking research changed the way we look at sex.
Throughout the narrative, The Century of Sex explores the ways in which historical tumults of the 1900s affected sex –and vice versa –through the Jazz Age, the depression, two world wars, the cold war, the sixties, the disco era, and the age of AIDS. The book covers America’s periodic moral panics, from the white-slave hysteria of 1910, to the homosexual panic of the 1950s, to the child-porn scare of the 1980s, and also traces the changes wrought by medical science, social science, and technology, from the vibrator to home video to Viagra.
The Century of Sex is a trenchant chronicle of a turbulent era that proves the truth behind the song lyric from the 1944 movie Pin Up Girl, “Battles are won in the daytime/But history is made at night.”