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Power: The Ultimate Aphrodisiac Hardcover – August 28, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After authoring countless sex manuals, therapist Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth) has joined forces with Hebrew University professor Kaplan to explore a slightly more academic (yet still bedroom-related) issue the correlation between sex and power in history. It's a big subject, but that doesn't faze Dr. Ruth, who joyfully delves into the stories of vengeful Old Testament women, harem and concubine women, trophy wives, political marriages, famous mistresses and celebrities from J.F.K., Aristotle Onassis and Eleanor Roosevelt to Cleopatra. While public interest in the prurient details of these figures' lives may be deplorable, that doesn't stop Westheimer from dishing the dirt herself (e.g., her description of Catherine the Great's alleged death, which involved attempting intercourse with a horse). Were this a simple anthology of sexy anecdotes, it might have worked. But instead, Westheimer has cornered herself into drawing a mature conclusion from each of these stories. So the Bible's Ruth secures her future by seducing Boaz, and according to Westheimer, that is not to say that "the end justifies the means" just that all sorts of relationships "have the potential for fulfillment and fruition." If Jefferson did sleep with Hemings, well, that just "humanizes" the president. By the end of the book, Westheimer concludes that history does not show much connection "between power, people's sex lives, and their political or economic successes," although readers may be too confused by then to even notice. For Dr. Ruth fans who are legion only. 16 photos and illus. not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

With her usual candor, the well-known Dr. Ruth turns the spotlight on the marriage of sex and power throughout the ages. She is perplexed by Americans' outrage at the sexual exploits of our politicians and celebrities, when, in fact, sex has been at the core of power for centuries. Together with her cowriter, the diminutive therapist traces key sexual scandals and deviance from the dawn of time, from the biblical stories of Esther and Haman and Samson and Delilah; to polygamous leaders in China and the Muslim world; to the more well-known trysts of JFK, Thomas Jefferson, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Westheimer helps put the behavior of today's leaders in perspective, noting that these historical sexual events were judged by the mores of the day and that even the most debauched behavior was at one time expected from those with wealth or power. Though by no means comprehensively (and so noted), the authors paint an insightful portrait of how for thousands of years sex has been used to achieve or maintain power. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Madison Books; English Language edition (August 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568332300
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568332307
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,212,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Germany in 1928, I was sent to a children's home in Switzerland at the age of ten which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 17 I went to Israel where I fought for the country's independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. I then moved to Paris where I studied at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten. I immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 and obtained my Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research. In 1970, I received a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher's College.
My work at Planned Parenthood is what prompted me to further my education in human sexuality by studying at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center.
My TV show Sexually Speaking first aired in 1980 as a 15-minute taped show, which then increased in popularity and became a nationally syndicated radio show.
In recent years, I have made regular appearances on the PBS Television children's show Between the Lions as "Dr. Ruth Wordheimer" in a parody of my therapist role, in which I help anxious readers and spellers overcome their fear of long words.
Currently I am an Adjunct Professor at N.Y.U. and an Associate Fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University, where I teach a course on the American family. I am also a Fellow of Butler College at Princeton University, where I will teach a course on the Jewish family. In addition to having my own private practice I am a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and frequently lecture at universities across the country.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Now, I don't like to write "negative" reviews per se. I believe you can learn something from any book (even if it is just that not all authors know what they're talking about). But I have to admit that this really is not a serious book. I believe this book should be filed under "speculation" because that really is what it seems to be based on. As the title indicates, this book would be an investigation of the idea that power creates a good sex life. The next step is to look at the lives of powerful people, and then to see how that power affected their sex lives. But, well, it fails in that attempt. This book is really only a few degrees above a tabloid magazine, being a calculated attempt to capitalize on the public's need for talk of sex, money, and power. Research and historical accuracy is not given a high priority.
I am a virtual scholar on the life of Eva Peron ("Evita"), who is pictured on the upper right hand cover of this book (along with her husband, Juan Peron). And I know from my own research that a few things the authors of this book hold up as fact are actually myths that no serious biographer has considered viable since the 1970s (Such as the assertion that Evita organized a mass rally that freed Juan Peron from prison, thereby allowing him to become President and her to become his powerful co-ruler. Serious biographers know that Evita had nothing to do with that rally, it was organized by the unions and Evita was but an actress at the time with no connections to union leaders whatsoever).
The arugment presented regarding Evita Peron in this book is so tired that I am amazed they even wrote about it here: the allegation that Evita slept her way to the top.
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