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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Orgasm is one of society's most compelling, shaping forces -- and most of us probably think that we are living in its golden age. But are we? The history of the orgasm is as elusive as orgasm itself can be, for sex rarely makes the historical record. Now acclaimed British journalist Jonathan Margolis delivers the definitive history of the human orgasm, of sex for pleasure ...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 2004)
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May 29, 2009 Evan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know tons about the wonderful crazy world of sex
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! (I took a long time on this, but it's densely packed with info and I wanted to take it slow; I like to take it slow, if you know what I mean...heh)
I mean this book is like the WHOLE HISTORY OF SEX, not just orgasm. It's so detailed and comprehensive and fascinating. I may have to buy this one as a shelf reference.
40 years ago there was a book by a Dr. David Reuben, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask" (subsequently a Woody Allen film
I gave up on page 12 at the end of the first chapter. This book was so poorly written, so dry, so academic, that I couldn't bear to waste my time reading more. I'm sure there's a fascinating history buried in these 400 pages, but I can't think of England long enough to get through the experience of reading it.
So, I bought this book despite having the feeling that it was going to be "pop-sexuality"...and boy, was I right. The author is a journalist, not a trained historian, or even a sex-researcher. His book is filled with poorly-researched historical tidbits, random assertions, and worst of all, "facts" that are often blatantly wrong - or simply ludicrous. And while he has an extensive bibliography in the back of the book, he fails to cite even one single "fact" from within his text.
Honestly, the fol
Highly recommended for sex nerds like myself.
It starts out a wee bit dry (how is that even possible?!) but by the time you get to the chapter about different sexual cultures around the world, you'll be absolutely fascinated.
Margolis has put together a surprisingly comprehensive history of not just orgasms, but sex, gender, politics, religion, & how all these work together to form the great big beautiful mess that is our current view of sexuality.
One of his key theses - the idea that testoste
Jan 17, 2009 Mehrnaz marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sex
I could only read 4 or 5 chapters of it because I had to come back to China (I had borrowed it from the Canadian public library!). Obviously I could not find such book here because "sex" has been a forbidden subject here for decades! It sounds quite scientific and amusing. You would not get bored if you are interested in History.
Ugh, what a snore. Tons of weird spelling mistakes, confusing and convoluted sentences, and a general disconnected and random feeling throughout.
On the whole, quite an interesting book. There's no original research here, but some very intelligent collating of material from front line researchers in the field. Inevitably, the bias is towards more recent history, which we know more about. I appreciated the inclusion of material that wasn't anglo-centric, that was good. I found Margolis' speculations about pre-history a bit pointless, because he seemed to assume everything then was much as it has been since, despite how many changes in atti ...more
Jane Night
What I liked- This book was so fun to read. It looked at orgasms physiologically, socially, and historically. For instance, did you know that studies have shown semen is actually addictive to some women? How about that it is really hard to have sex in the missionary position in zero gravity? And, many cultures throughout history have believed that women are more sexual then men (which I have been saying for years!).

Overall, informative, fun, and an easy read. If you are looking for a serious boo
Frank Jude
Jun 25, 2010 Frank Jude rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a body, interested in one of it's more pleasurable aspects!
Okay, this is one hell of an interesting book! The sheer quantity of facts and factoids, the minutia of sexual behavior, beliefs, mores and norms across the globe and throughout history is nearly overwhelming! And Jonathan Margolis is an excellent guide, with a wit that helps one digest the weight of information herein.

From the Preface:

"More than a hundred million acts of sexual intercourse take place every day, according to the World Health Organization... Calculations would suggest, then, allo
I've returned this to the library (from whence most of my books come), but look forward to checking it out again sometime and reading more. This is definately not a book that needs to be read start to finish, although that might be fun too!
Sep 16, 2008 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in learning more about sex
Recommended to Jennifer by: Read for a review
Loved reading it. Read it for a review that's available online. With the history and science aspects as well as the psychological and pop culture references it's an awesome read for anyone interested in sexuality.
After seeing several factual errors in the first twenty pages and realizing that the "biblography" was mostly websites, I decided to put this book down and am resisting a strong temptation to burn it.
Somewhat problematic when it comes to the author's editorializing about whether women require love in order to orgasm, but generally a good overview of the current literature and history of the orgasm.
A few entertaining facts, but this one was not as good as I expected.
Just bought this book for a dollar. We'll see...
clearly written by a dude.
Good read so far!
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Jonathan Margolis is a journalist for The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Sunday Times (UK). He has been a contributor to Time as well as several other online magazines. He has written several celebrity biographies including ones on John Cleese, Uri Geller and the orgasm.
More about Jonathan Margolis...
Cleese Encounters Michael Palin: A Biography The Big Yin A Brief History of Tomorrow The Secret Life of Uri Geller: CIA Masterspy?

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“Some sexual theorists have argued that the perceptual link between orgasm and death is traceable to the elevated state in which orgasm in a rare few cases is accompanied by a loss of consciousness. Another explanation for the petit mort idea is inherent in a rare but persistent folk belief, of uncertain origin but found in cultures from Europe to the Far East, that a person is born with a certain number of orgasms in him or her, and that when the last is used, the person died.” 0 likes
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