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Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068375
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“I read Swoon in the hope that some of its subjects would even slightly resemble me. I loved the book anyway.” (Andy Borowitz, comedian and New York Times best-selling author)

“Betsy Prioleau’s witty and compelling book is a fresh take on the question of what women want. I wholly agree with her thesis that the true seducer is not the swaggering Don Juan of myth and melodrama, but the ordinary-looking man who likes, loves, and listens to women.” (Molly Haskell, author of Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisted)

“A fun, frothy complement to cultural historian Prioleau’s Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World (2003)… A merrily readable literary history/dating manual.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Betsy Prioleau’s vivacious prose grabs the reader, as does her marvelous wit, her insight into sexual desire, and her extraordinary research. It’s a fascinating, very sexy read, especially her interviews with great lovers of today who detail why they’re so successful in their seduction of women.” (Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of Letter from a Stranger)

Swoon is a revelatory—and revolutionary—work that radically expands our understanding of human desire and unveils the mysteries surrounding passionate love. Prioleau answers Freud’s vexed question: "What do women want?" It is also a profound cultural history of eros with evocative case studies of great seducers. The reader of this remarkable book will be happily seduced and enlightened.” (Peter J. Buckley, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine)

“How did we forget what women really want? Men who pulse with vitality, who enjoy female company, who give great conversation, whose sheer ardor compels our surrender—as Betsy Prioleau reminds us in her beautifully written, deeply researched, and desperately needed rediscovery of the men who make us 'Swoon.'” (Gail Sheehy, author of Sex and the Seasoned Woman)

About the Author

Betsy Prioleau is the author of Seductress and Circle of Eros and was a scholar in residence at New York University where she taught cultural history. She lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Betsy Prioleau is the author of Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them (W. W. Norton, 2013), Circle of Eros (Duke University Press) and Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love (Penguin/Viking). She has a Ph.D. in literature from Duke University, was an associate professor at Manhattan College, and taught cultural history at New York University. She lives in New York City. Visit her website at www.BetsyPrioleau.com.

An excerpt from a review of "Swoon" by Helen Davies that was published January 26, 2014 in the U.K. Sunday Times:

"Swoon doesn't conform to the dreary do-gooding of the worst of self-help literature. Instead, Prioleau offers a romp through centuries of amorous liaisons and seduction techniques ... if you are willing to be seduced into some entertaining badinage, it is worth a read."

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Customer Reviews

A witty, informative a delicious read...I couldn't put it down!
He sees that he will have to do more than grunt sound bites in a bar to live deeply and capture a woman's love.
Goel Now
This undoubtedly will be a comfort to modern men who aren’t great dancers or poets.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Some Men just Know what it takes...

There's nothing simplistic about the female brain, body and soul- intricately divine and sublimely refined, it really does take a grand master in love to figure out what makes us Venuses...Swoon!

Betsy Prioleau presents us with the great seducers of all times to figure out what it is that makes some men really `get' what women want. From the very beginning, even the Greek gods, moved heaven and earth for love. But by far, the grandest of all lovers in history was Giacomo Casanova. The perfect ladies' man, Casanova captured women's minds, their heart, their fantasies and ultimately their soul. He was genuinely interested and completely devoted to pleasing women- he understood what they needed and wanted.

Betsy Prioleau's research brings us closer to the men in history and their captivating ways. The men she describes (tons of historical figures, which include Voltaire, Gabriele D'Annunzio, the 18th c. duc de Richelieu, to name a few- and the modern ones as well- Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and Woody Allen too!)-all of them devoted to being ladies' men.

SWOON grabs you from the very beginning. It's everything you want to know about the great lovers in history. Definitely a sexy read, Swoon will have you admitting that yes! this really is what women want- from way back, and that there really is a recipe for love. It leads you to the realization that some things will never really change when it comes to love from a woman's point of view. Women need and crave to be loved to the most heightened of their senses- passionately, completely yes, but a true lover knows that he'll have to get through her mind first (but not solely)- Betsy Prioleau has a chapter on that. It's called, Mental Intercourse...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ronan on January 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The author struggles to build a coherent structure. Sometimes the chapters are point-counterpoint, sometimes they are lists of unconnected attributes. There was no central theme of "what makes women swoon" and the reader instead has to wade through repetitive tautologies. An example would be "Mr. X was a champion balloonist in 18th century Paris whose dapper appearance wooed the ladies" and then two pages later "Mr. Y was a hideous, poor mongrel and had thirteen mistresses." The men are swoon-inducing because they are, evidently. No book that includes "And Why Women Love Them" in the title can ever be allowed to use the phrase je ne sais quoi when describing a man's appeal. If you're admitting that you have no clue why a certain man was a famous seducer, then please don't write the book until you figure it out.
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Format: Hardcover
At first glance, SWOON looks like light entertaining reading. But author Betsy Prioleau isn’t merely aiming to entertain; rather, her goal is to get to the heart of what has made the men who women desire --- and swoon over --- tick. She quickly dispels expectations of text that is mere fluff with an almost academic presentation of a number of historic Casanovas and the varied qualities among them that made them what they were. She dives right into her narrative, beginning with a modern (and unknown) lady-killer. She digs to get to the root of his secrets before drawing the reader onto a path of discovering the “It” quality that makes some men such revelatory seducers.
SWOON is not a dating or pick-up guide, but it does provide some insight to those reading it for advice. It turns out that while many great lady-killers throughout history have possessed some of the characteristics Prioleau details, it is unnecessary to have all of them. This undoubtedly will be a comfort to modern men who aren’t great dancers or poets. In fact, there are really only a few qualities that are necessary to bring a man to the fore of seduction. While cooking and expert wordplay are valuable, they are expendable. Caring, attention and sincerity are found in Prioleau’s champions --- and they are the keys to being a one-in-a-million lover.
Prioleau covers her bases; she includes information from evolutionary theory, literature, history, popular culture, and primary sources (often in the form of interviews with men who have been identified by anonymous women as Lotharios). For those reading the book for more than its entertainment value, the credibility her research loans the work is a boon. It is also rather unusual to encounter a book that is enjoyable on both sensual and cerebral levels.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Wilhite on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
FINALLY! A book that historically explores what it means to be a "ladies man" and strips away the historical negativity associated with the title. I always wondered why I had certain friends who dated many women, acquired terrible reputations, and their exes hated them with a passion; YET, I had other friends who also dated multiple ladies, but their exes still loved them to death and women flocked to them like bees to pollen despite (or because of!) their reputation as ladies men. Now I'm so glad Dr. Betsy Prioleau has written a book that finally gives me some historical and scientific clarity as to why women regard the "fake ladies men" with such disdain and regard the "real ladies men with such pleasure.


**The book debunks myths of what is a true ladies man verses the phony ladies men. True Ladies men are not men keeping score and putting notches on their belt, are not men trying to be "playa-playaz", pimps, or men who use and abuse women. The Real ladies men have many different qualities and there is no "one size fits all", but first and foremost they love and adore women. That's the bottom line. The debunking of this myth first began for me in high school when I picked up a biography of Casanova expecting to read about a cad and a jerk, but came away with a completely different image of him. He was not some roving predator, but a talented man who loved women intensely and emotionally invested himself in relationships. I believe this book does the same for the great lovers of women throughout history....it strips away the negativity associated with being a "Ladies man" and shows just how much women adore men who adore them.

**The book was literally a walk through history and literature.
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