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Alfred C. Kinsey: A Life Paperback – November 17, 2004
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A masterly, disturbing biography. -- Washington Post Book World
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Top Customer Reviews
Equally, Kinsey is a demon to everyone who believes that the phrase "sexual deviant" means something, and who subscribes to the notion that, somewhere in the 1950s, US culture lost its way in a maze of permissiveness and perversion. For thse folks, that maze was designed in large measure by Kinsey.
Kinsey's devotees will find this biography unsettling. Jones gives us a wonderfully rich and detailed view of just how deeply Kinsey's own needs (and blindnesses) informed his work and the work of his team, and how (consciously or otherwise) Kinsey's quest for self-validation led him to concoct (no other word will do, it seems to me) validation for all those like him who could not find their sexual self-images in the rather poverty-stricken catalog available in the 1950s and before.
Kinsey-haters, while clapping gleefully at all that Jones reveals about the flaws behind Kinsey's path-breaking work (Mister Y in particular), will also be disturbed by this book. Jones doesn't demonize Kinsey, or, if he does, he makes of Kinsey a Lucifer: a bringer of light, an arrogant, fallen angel, a friend of humankind. It is impossible, it seems to me, to read this truly great book and not conclude that, flawed and conflicted as he was, Kinsey was doing the work of the angels -- that his research did open, in an unforecloseable way, the facticity of sexual variation in the human species.Read more ›
Ultimately, Jones manages to provide a balanced account of Kinsey's life and ideas. The book traces the transformation of a middle-class, devoutly Protestant, and reserved individual into an outspoken critic of the oppressive heteronormative sexual paradigm of the status quo.
Nor does Jones shy away from criticizing some of Kinsey's more pronounced personal and intellectual shortcomings. Yet, were it not for some these flaws, Kinsey might have never embarked on his secular crusade to liberate the world from the chains of sexual repression.
Alfred C. Kinsey rightfully deserves his place in the annals of history. Kinsey taught us how to embrace the complexities of our own sexual desires, unfettered by irrational social taboos.
In spite of its length--at a whopping 832 pages long--Jones' biography is well worth reading.
Jones delves deep into Kinsey's savagely repressive youth, causing any reader to develop a compassion for him. As he excels in his career as an entymologist, we see him driven by this early upbringing to do exhaustive research that would have made most people simply give up. He brought this same almost maniacal focus to his work in human sexuality, gathering about him a dedicated coterie of scientists whom he inspired to similar levels of dogged research. At no time did he allow conventional concepts of "right" and "wrong" to enter in-- dispassionate data collection was the goal. Along the way, however, the very human story Jones tells becomes very complicated and reveals the horde of demons that drove Kinsey-- and his team-- into sometimes disturbing territory. Challenging taboos is dangerous work, Kinsey paid the price.
This is a detailed though never boring portrait of a fascinating scientific and cultural figure. I found it to be a powerful reading experience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant lesson for scholars and Investigators. A really fascinating Book of a Pioneer in SEX investigation.Published 16 months ago by Alberto Spoerer
I purchased this book looking for information on this man named Kinsey. I got so much information I am sick. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Gerald C. McLain
This is probably the most inaccurate biography of Kinsey available. The allegations and conclusions are not supported by evidence. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Mark A Roeder