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Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire (Anglais) Relié – 26 avril 2012

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Book by Berkowitz Eric

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20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An insightful history of four thousand years of punishing desire 26 avril 2012
Par William Courson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Eric Berkowitz is a California lawyer and journalist, and has published in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Weekly, and for the Associated Press. He is an editor of the West Coast's premier daily legal publication, the Los Angeles Daily Journal. In "Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire," he has written a fascinating, compelling insight into the mind of the homophobe, the schoolyard bully and the religiously-motivated sociopath.

This is the Dark Side, and while ugly beyond imagining its history and development is something that merits becoming educated to if only to sharpen one's perception of the roots of a purulent reality that lies behind a good many surfaces. This book accomplishes that goal with admirable efficiency!

Did you know that the Holy Inquisition did not punish girl-on-girl action unless the women used an "artificial instrument" in bed? or that that the Italian town of Treviso required that lesbians be "tied naked for a full day to a stake... and then be burned," Or that a Castillian law from the 13th century commanded that men who "sin against nature with each other" were to be "castrated before the whole populace" and then "hung up by the legs until dead, and that their bodies never be taken down?" From ancient Mesopotamia to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde to the modern era, someone has always been trying to control sexuality and the author's fascinating and thoroughly researched new tome covers it all. The author describes the real stories of medieval cross-dressers, London's rent boys, gay charioteers, and a whole lot of people who were judged for their forbidden sexual identification and desire. The book makes for an excellent, fascinating, and provocative read about carnal desire and what lengths humankind will go to fulfill and control it.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Hypocrisy, Tragedy & the Illegal Libido 22 mai 2012
Par Timhrk - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
"Sex & Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire" by Eric Berkowitz is that truly rare animal: a scholarly work that is fun to read. In fact, a book of legal history has no right to be this entertaining. Perhaps the fact that it is so enjoyable has to do with the subject matter - Sex - and while there are plenty of opportunities to get attention through prurience, Berkowitz thankfully prefers to showcase the inherent absurdity of sex law, which is based on what is ultimately a misbegotten notion, that personal choices in sexuality jeopardizes society as a whole.

Since the dawn of time, or least recorded civilization, society has attempted to restrict sexual practices. Attempt is the key word, because Berkowitz points out that at every turn, the astonishing amount of corruption, hypocrisy and non-compliance accompanying every new sex law - not to mention the tragedies of the victims of this blatant injustice. In addition, he shows how arbitrary sex laws tend to be. What outrages law makers in one society - same sex relations, the age of consent for instance, even incest and bestiality - are treated indifferently by another.

Beginning in the ancient world, the combination of the ancient Hebrews, who Berkowitz credits not just with inventing bans against incest, homosexuality, and sex with menstruating women, but creating the concept of sin: "...the moral strictures of the ancient Jews, held together with the molasses of shame and the terror of God's punishment, have been more influential on Western sexual attitudes than any other collection of ideas."

Of course Hellenic culture of the ancient world eventually became intermingled with Hebrew thought, creating Christianity and Western Civilization. While Greek culture may on the surface seem more permissiveness than the Torah, they had their own immeasurable contribution to sex laws, or as Berkowitz credits the "...Greek Obsession: Litigation... the Greeks loved nothing more than a good sex trial."

This book may be about law, but it reads like a ripping good - and yes sometimes bawdy - yarn as Berkowitz applies his sardonic 21st century perspective to analyze ancient Rome, the Middle Ages up through the 19th century, ending with a splendid look at Flaubert's obscenity trial for Madame Bovary, Anthony Comstock's crusades against vice and obscene material in United States and Oscar Wilde's imprisonment for the love that dare not speak its name. In spite of society becoming more enlightened - advances in science, public education expansion, ending of serfdom and slavery and the growth of a working and middle class - it is stunning how sex laws gained momentum in the 19th century. No matter how ineffective to their stated purpose, and how often tragedy resulted from the hypocrisy required to enforce penalties, new zealots gained public support for new laws and sadly, as more and more repressive laws were enacted, the only thing they spawned were more new victims, and more lawbreakers.

Throughout the breadth (he's not kidding when he says 4,000 years) of this immensely readable narrative, Berkowitz echoes 20th century incidents, including lingering miscegenation laws, Bill Clinton's lying about sex under oath and the advent of same sex marriage, but he wisely stops short of looking at the gnarly sex laws that, as he puts it, "roiled" the last century up to the present day. Now that he has set the stage, the reader is left wanting more. "Sex & Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire" makes you desire the sequel. Berkowtiz comprehensively tells us how we got here: where we are in terms of regulating the private - sex - in the public sphere - the legal system; let's hope next time he tells us more about the here and now so we can end at least some of the mistakes that have plagued humanity for so many millennia. An important book and great read. [...]
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fascinating survey, comic and horrifying. 23 mai 2012
Par A. DeToro - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a fascinating survey of 4000 years of attempts both comic and horrifying to "set boundaries on how people take their sexual pleasures" and the "range of controls and punishments to enforce them." The book vividly describes many of the mind-boggling punishments imposed over the years for purported sex crimes, one particularly strange one involving the use of a fish. We learn that the earliest sex laws were an attempt by men to regulate their property rights (for centuries women were the bought and sold property of their fathers and husbands), how homosexuality came to be associated with paganism by religious zealots and how after thousands of years of practical acceptance the first serious attempts to control prostitution took hold. The author's commentary is witty and insightful throughout. It's rare to find a history book that is so much fun to read and that also provides so much perspective on current events and political debates. Highly recommended and I can't wait for the sequel.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Provocative history of Western civilization from the perspective of law and libido 1 octobre 2012
Par Book Shark - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz

"Sex and Punishment" is the fascinating four-thousand year history of mainly western society's attempt to control sexuality through the law. This eye-opening book covers a wide spectrum of societal sexual manifestations up until the end of the 19th century. Writer, lawyer and journalist, Eric Berkowitz takes the reader on a voyeuristic ride into humankind's obsession to control sex via the law. With countless in-depth cases the author shows what has happened to those who engage in sexual behavior that runs contrary to prevailing societal attitudes. This at times mesmerizing 456-page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. Channeling the Urge: The First Sex Laws, 2. Honor Among (Mostly) Men: Cases from Ancient Greece, 3. Imperial Bedrooms: Sex and the State of Ancient Rome, 4. The Middle Ages: A Crowd Condemned, 5. Groping Toward Modernity: The Early Modern Period, 1500 - 1700, 6. The New World of Sexual Opportunity, 7. The Eighteenth Century: Revelation and Revolution and 8. The Nineteenth Century: Human Nature on Trial.

1. A well researched book that provides many riveting historical examples.
2. As fascinating a topic as you will find: sex and society's quest to legislate it.
3. At the heart of this book, Berkowitz shows quite compellingly with a luxury of details what happens to those who engage in sexual behavior that runs contrary to prevailing societal attitudes. "At any given point in time, some forms of sex and sexuality have been encouraged while others have been punished without mercy. Jump forward or backward a century or two, or cross a border, and the harmless fun of one society becomes the gravest crime of another."
4. The book covers from the early Sumerian kingdom of Ur-Namma (2100 BC) to the trial of Oscar Wilde (1895). Roughly a period of four-thousand years.
5. The origination of Western sex law. What they represent.
6. The book is full and I mean full of eye-opening facts. I guarantee that after reading this book you will not lack for interesting topics. "It was not until about 9000 BC that the link between sexual intercourse and pregnancy was confirmed."
7. I'm astounded and you will be too at what was considered scientifically acceptable as recent as late 19th century.
8. This book covers a wide variety of sexual manifestations including uncomfortable sexual taboos. I'm flabbergasted at some of the accounts!
9. The author provides many examples that show the abhorrent treatment of women throughout history and cultures. "The strength of Rome would depend on keeping women in line and preventing the corrupting influence of femininity in men."
10. The greatest sex crimes. The evil of slavery, rape...
11. Homosexuality in perspective, before morality and how it evolved over time and cultures.
12. Sexual prohibitions. A lot of this book covers sexual prohibitions and what events transpired to arouse legislation. Prostitution.
13. The impact of Judaism and Christianity on society with regards to sex and punishment. Protestant reformation.
14. The book covers the penalties associated with sexual behavior. Some of it is guaranteed to shock and provoke the reader. "The penitentials were the church's field guides for ranking good and bad sexual behavior." Sexual repression. Witchcraft.
15. The battlefield of obscenity. Society's obsession. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
16. The fruits of overseas conquest.
17. The issue of race in the United States. Fascinating stuff.
18. The ravages of self-abuse. Society's quest to control private pleasures.
19. Censorship of books, written materials. The impact of the word. The punishments.
20. The issue of age of consent. The laws that raised the age of consent. Global influence.
21. Sterilization. An awful abhorrent practice...its history.
22. Links worked fine. A notes and bibliography section.

1. Some of the stories depicting the more outlandish sexual acts will repulse the average reader.
2. Stories involving harsh punishments of people in particular women and children is uncomfortable.
3. The book lacks overall cohesion. It's not always a smooth transition from one story to another and at times repetitive.
4. Charts would have added value. Charts that summarized the sexual behaviors by culture and the laws created to control and/or punish them would have added value to the book.
5. I think the author originally wanted to make a book that covered until current times but decided to stop at the Oscar Wilde trial (1895). Hopefully a part two is in the works.
6. At over 400 pages the book does require an investment of your time.

In summary, this is an entertaining, enlightening and eye-opening book. The author succeeds in providing the reader with the history of Western civilization from the perspective of law and libido. It is full of amusing and at times even shocking stories that will leave you dumbfounded. Some of the acts depicted in the book can be repulsive and will make some readers very uncomfortable. That all being said, if you want to learn about sexual behavior and society's quest to legislate it this book certainly succeeds. I recommend it!

Further recommendations: "Bisexuality in the Ancient World" by Eva Cantarella, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, "Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade--and How We Can Fight It" by David Batstone, "Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves" by Sarah B. Pomeroy, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson "Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice" by Jack Holland, "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History" by Jack David Eller, "Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars" by Sikivu Hutchinson, and "Slavery As Moral Problem: In the Early Church and Today (Facets)" by Jennifer Glancy.
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fascinating History of Sex and the Law 5 mai 2012
Par Billy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I just finished this book, and while I don't usually do reviews, I decided to weigh in on this one. Mr. Berkowitz, an attorney and journalist, has delivered a very enjoyable and insightful survey of sex and how societies have attempted to regulate it. The level of research is quite outstanding. I wonder where he found some of the nuggets included here. This is the rare book of history that is so readable that it's actually a page-turner. While the book is focused on history through the nineteenth century, it's quite enlightening to realize how universal the tug-of-war between personal sexual practices and the prerogatives of the state have been. This book not only illuminates the past, it shines a light on debates that still are going on today.
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