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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb history of sex, repression and human nature., 29 Aug. 2001
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Ms. A. Kendal (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sex In History (Paperback)
Don't let the title mislead you. Reay Tannahill's Sex in History in neither a titillating nor a rude book. It is, however, a brilliant, fascinating, myth-dispelling and constantly revelatory read.
Starting in prehistory and moving (via the 1989 update) to the age of Aids, Tannahill examines the way in which socio-political and economic concerns have influenced sex and vice versa.
Spanning global history, from India, China and the Islamic world to the Americas and Europe, she looks at how attitudes have changed and developed. It soon becomes clear that nothing in sexual behaviour is new.
Her examination of Victorianism is excellent, and should be required reading for many - particularly those who nurture ideas of legislating the sex industry out of existence or restricting the availability of contraceptives and abortion. As a woman, it is particularly chilling to read how suffragettes and early feminists opposed moves toward contraception, and how birth-control information was often classed as "obscene" and outlawed. The consequences have been horrific.
That we still have a long way to go in terms of sexual liberation can well be illustrated by a statement from Chief Justice Warren Burger to the US Supreme Court as late as 1986, that, "to hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching."
But perhaps what comes across most clearly is the influence of religions on people's sexual behaviour. Indeed, as she says in her conclusion, religion and secular law in the West have "been productive of more guilt and misery among ordinary people than any other aspect of human or divine law."
There are, of course, things any reader would like to have seen included. For instance, when dealing with the British approach to Aids, a mention of former Chief Constable of Manchester James Anderton and his statements about God's plague on gays might have provided a useful illustration. And the story of German sex entrepreneur and contraceptive campaigner Beate Uhse would certainly not have been out of place.
But these are minor quibbles. A superb book, excellently written and highly readable. By turns funny, wry, appalling and surprising, with carefully and unemotionally drawn conclusions, Tannahill has produced a work that should be discovered by as many as possible.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex In History, 5 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Sex In History (Paperback)
Read this book a while back and found it fascinating. It's one of those books whose contents and themes remain in your head.....long after lesser titles have become erased from your mind. A must read for anyone interested in the role in which sex has played in shaping our common history
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem!, 27 Sept. 2009
By 
Mbumbel (england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sex in History (Paperback)
A great book, beautifully written, very witty, very informative, very pleasurable do read. I strongly recommend!
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Sex In History
Sex In History by Reay Tannahill (Paperback - 1 Dec. 1989)
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