Sin, Sex & Subversion: How What Was Taboo in 1950s New York Became America's New Normal


Product Details

Carrel Books
Publish Date
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