Sin, Sex & Subversion: How What Was Taboo in 1950s New York Became America's New Normal
David Rosen (Author)
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DescriptionDuring the tumultuous 1950s in America, sex was as threatening to the nation's moral order as communism. New York was the capital of the post-World War II world and the epicenter of a fierce culture war over music, theatre, movies, fashion, and literature, as well as birth control, homosexuality, adolescent sex, pornography, and prostitution. Over the last half-century, America's social life--especially notions of culture, sexuality, and politics--has fundamentally changed, and what were once sinful or subversive sexual practices have been integrated into the marketplace, irreversibly changing American moral values; the once illicit has become an industry of more than $50 billion. Drawing on first-person interviews, unpublished memoirs, newspaper accounts, contemporary studies, government documents, and recent scholarship, Sin, Sex & Subversion argues that "deviant" sexuality was subversive, and that unique New York "outsiders" of the 1950s set the stage for the following decades and the world we know today. In each chapter, author David Rosen examines a critical moral issue through an in-depth profile of figures such as Liberace, Samuel Roth, Bettie Page, the Rosenbergs, and others. Through these individuals, Rosen shows how those who operated outside the law or who challenged popular values, even if they were silenced in their time, ended up paving the way for a new normal. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
February 23, 2016
6.1 X 1.5 X 9.1 inches | 1.45 pounds
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About the Author
David Rosen is a writer and business-development consultant. He regularly contributes articles on sexuality, popular culture, and media to AlterNet, Brooklyn Rail, CounterPunch, and Salon. He also writes on technology and public policy for Cyber Defense, Filmmaker, and IndieWire. He is the author of Sex Scandal America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming. He lives in New York City.
The method of instruction in these chapters is fantastic . . . Sin, Sex & Subversion is a decent primer for students and laypeople unfamiliar with the history of human sexuality in the United States. --New York Journal of Books No matter how one reads Sin, Sex & Subversion, they will walk away with a greater sense of where America's culture wars came from and why so much of the US right wing continues to equate subversive politics with what they consider to be sexual deviance. --Counterpunch Rosen takes the reader on a grand and entertaining tour of New York's underbelly in the 1950s. By turning his incisive lens on the sexy, sinful, and subversive elements of that society he provides a clearer view of our own. --James F. Wilson, author of Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies: Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance No one reports from the nocturnal side of American culture with quite the verve of David Rosen. Sin, Sex & Subversion is a vivid panorama of New York City's secret underground in the 1950s, where an alternative society evolved devoted to enthusiastically breaking almost every social taboo and cultural norm. This is a provocative and dangerous book, a kind of Hollywood Babylon for Manhattan, charting how the forces of sexual and human liberation began to slip the repressive chains of American Puritanism. Rosen reminds us that this is not a dead history, but a fierce ongoing struggle that continues to reverberate in our current of age of anxiety-ridden politics. --Jeffrey St. Clair, editor for CounterPunch, author of Born Under a Bad Sky David Rosen is the heir apparent to the Wizard of Oz, pulling back the curtain exposing America's political and sexual hypocrisy. Sin, Sex & Subversion reveals how private sexual behavior has been woven into political and social posturing. It is, at once, revealing and highly readable. --David Rothberg, host, Any Saturday, WBAI-FM, author, Fortune in My Eyes A fascinating and highly informative must-read for anyone interested in the history of sexual politics and First Amendment rights, David Rosen's new book reveals how many of the freedoms we now take for granted were not "free" at all just a few decades ago. With detailed, illuminating, and engaging stories of hypocritical insiders like FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover and US Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock, pioneering outsiders like Christine Jorgensen and Wilhelm Reich, and a few outsiders who became insiders like Margaret Sanger, Sin, Sex & Subversion paints a vivid, complex, panoramic picture of the intersection of politics and sex in the 1950s and early sixties, generating a 'sexual revolution' that dramatically transformed America and the world, yet still cannot be taken for granted, as the fight for the right to enjoy ourselves, in peace, continues. --Dr. Susan Block, author, The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure David Rosen has written an engaging and revealing exposé of the 1950s other New York . . . who knew? Drawing upon a wealth of research, he weaves together wonderfully illuminating profiles of a dozen or so legendary New York 'outsiders' to tell a compelling story that has never been told. He shows how defining issues of the '50s involving sin, sex, and subversion are linked to present struggles, showing how things change and don't. This original tale is a must read for all New Yorkers. --Milton Allimandi, editor in chief, Black Star News "David Rosen's wide-ranging account of the moral panics and sexually and socially repressive policies during what Henry Miller called the 'air-conditioned nightmare' of the postwar United States is especially timely in a historical moment when fundamentalisms of all varieties are on the rise." --Christopher Winks, Queens College, CUNY "Not just about pleasure, but also a pleasure to read . . . Voluptuously researched, vigorously written, and vigilantly insistent." --Whitney Strub, Rutgers University, author, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right