Review: One Nation Under Sex

One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American HistoryOne Nation Under Sex 
by Larry Flynt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One Nation Under Sex / 9780230120358

I didn't know quite what to expect going into this book -- I mean, the author is *Larry Flynt* and I wasn't exactly certain that it was going to be a bastion of high journalism. Well, you know what they say about assumptions; "One Nation Under Sex" is incredibly well-written, thoroughly documented, and utterly fascinating from start to finish.

"One Nation Under Sex" travels systematically through the sex lives of our nation's presidents, and uncovers quite a few interesting tidbits and stories along the way. Surprisingly, though, the sex itself is something of a tertiary focus: this book is, in many ways, really about how sex in high places has shaped the course of our country, and about the relationship between the press and the presidency. The result is a book that is fascinatingly historical and not just a "scandal for scandal's sake" gossip book, and it's impossible to not be drawn into the historical intricacies as they are explored.

One of the things I liked most about this book is that it presents everything very clearly and factually, with copious footnotes, but never with a forceful air. Even something as potentially surprising and political as the Abraham Lincoln chapter is laid out with the same candid "documentary" feel as the more tame chapters; Flynt merely lays out his viewpoint and his (compelling) evidence for Lincoln having same-sex relationships, and it's up to the reader to decide how they will personally reconcile the presented evidence with their own knowledge and beliefs. I like it a lot when a documentary lets the copious evidence speak for itself, and the entire book feels very candid -- as though the author is shooting straight and merely compiling history instead of "spinning" it.

I recommend this fascinating and engaging book for anyone. The clarity of the writing is commendable, and the decision to retain a scholarly tone instead of a "gossipy" one turns this book into a historical classic, perfect for any adult audience.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine...but I liked the ARC so much, I bought the e-book version as well.

~ Ana Mardoll

View all my reviews


Inquisitive Raven said...

I notice that while Larry Flynt gets top billing, he is not the sole author of this book. I've never heard of the co-author, but I'm willing to bet that he's the reason for the scholarly tone and the footnotes.

Pamela Merritt said...

Another great one in this genre is Thy Neighbor's Wife, by Gay Talese. History of Bettie Page and Playboy magazine, among others.

It also cemented my feeling that fundamentalist religion is based on co-opting every source of joy in a human's life and funneling it only through Church approved channels for the tyrannical purpose of imposing suffering on thousands so a few cynical psychopaths can reap the benefits for themselves.

But your mileage may vary.

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