From Publishers Weekly
Lord, a public health historian, argues that the U.S. government has spent the past 90 years trying to give Americans frank sex education, but the power of religious groups and Americans' own squeamishness in admitting to having premarital sex has thwarted public health officials for nearly all of that time. After an informative, pithy explanation of the origins of the modern Health and Human Services Department and the surgeon general post, Lord documents the government's sex education efforts, successes and failures decade by decade, in chronological, rather than thematic order. By slogging through a chronological account of sex education, she skips over the opportunity to consider why Americans have had such trouble talking not just about sex education, but about sex itself, and how that unease is at the core of this country's ambivalence over aggressive and candid programs promoting sex education for teenagers. The book functions, at best, as a desk reference, a year by year catalogue of government policy, rather than a substantive discussion of the modern history of American sex education. (Jan.)
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Lord, a public health historian, argues that the U.S. government has spent the past 90 years trying to give Americans frank sex education, but the power of religious groups and Americans’ own squeamishness in admitting to having premarital sex has thwarted public health officials for nearly all of that time.
Lively historical account... Lord is particularly enlightening about the ways in which race, religion and geography have produced an inconsistent approach to sex education.
(Susan Jacoby Washington Post Book World
This fascinating history of the past hundred years of sex education in America explores public and private efforts to eradicate sexually transmitted disease and promote healthy sexual behavior: It also reveals our hang-up, Alexandra Lord observes: 'Americans' uneasiness with sexual behavior.'
Americans have a split on the issue: using a condom is a responsible action, but having the sex that makes using a condom a responsible action, well, that’s irresponsible and immoral. Lord, a former historian for the Public Health Service, has documented this ambivalent stance throughout her fascinating book, which surprises throughout in showing just how little sex education changed through the twentieth century, even though we profited from an increase in scientific knowledge and from improved contraceptive and prophylactic technologies.
(Erotica Readers and Writers Association
An informative and enjoyable read.
(James Wagoner Conscience
This is a highly readable study about a hot-button issue... Condom Nation contextualizes federal policies within the changing sexual mores of the twentieth century and shows how important it is to look at the story behind sex education campaigns.
(Tamara Myers H-Education, H-Net Reviews