A whirlwind tour of the sexual revolution in America, Make Love, Not War
grew from the author's fascination with a bygone period of rebellion and experimentation whose effects linger throughout the culture. Born in 1969, David Allyn remembers "growing up with the vague sense of having missed something magical and mysterious. I remember the adolescent's agony of realizing that my parents and teachers had witnessed extraordinary social transformations, the likes of which we might never see again." Allyn's zest for his subject, and his dewy-eyed admiration of the sexual pioneers of the '60s and '70s, make him a pleasure to read, although the topic may be too large for a book of this size. There is little space to put subjects like public nudity, the demise of censorship, and the challenge to miscegenation laws into historical context. The author's more detailed discussions fare better, and he offers engaging new source material--in many cases from his own interviews--on open marriage, the joys of the Pill, gay liberation, and the sexual double standard. Although an advocate for sexual freedom, Allyn notes the paradox that "perhaps, in the end, shining the light of liberation into every dark corner of daily life has made it more difficult to indulge in some sexual pleasures spontaneously and unself-consciously." We may now feel an urge to define ourselves sexually at a young age, he argues, missing out on the thrill of the forbidden, and the chance to just fool around. --Regina Marler
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From Publishers Weekly
Successfully treading the fine line between a serious chronicle and sensationalism in his account of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s in the U.S., Princeton historian Allyn mixes a smooth narrative of events (e.g., the legalization of birth control, abortion and interracial marriage), the famous (Hugh Hefner, Masters and Johnson) and not so famous (Jeff Poland of the Sexual Freedom League), with occasional analytic excursions into dramatic changes in society and individual lives. The book ranges widely, from Helen Gurley Brown's packaging of sexual liberalism in Sex and the Single Girl to novels promoting sexual utopias (i.e., The Harrad Experiment), the decline of the college policy of in loco parentis, the uses of sexual liberation by suburban swingers and political radicals like the Weathermen, and the commercialization of sex. Based on interviews with participants in these activities (including such figures as Barney Rosset, Rita Mae Brown and Andrea Dworkin, as well as ordinary people), and materials from the period, Allyn ascribes full credit to feminism and gay liberation for social changes that touched almost all Americans. Readers who lived through these heady events will appreciate his fresh perspective, while those of his generation (he was born in 1969) may be amazed to learn, for example, that birth control was illegal in many states as late as 1965. Allyn's broad sweep occasionally gives short shrift to historical background in areas like birth control or obscenity in literature. And he falters badly in his final chapter, virtually ignoring the feminist defense of sexual freedom and putting too much emphasis on the coalition of antipornography feminists and the religious right in his recounting of the decline of sexual liberation. Overall, though, Allyn's work is as exuberant and expansive as the movement he observes. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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