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Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire [Kindle Edition]

Eric Berkowitz
4.7 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (3 Kundenrezensionen)

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'I don't think I've ever read such an entertaining historical work. It has the wisdom granted by perspective, without the condescension of someone who thinks we're wiser than our ancestors. Whether you want to fuel your indignation, or simply furnish yourself with enough jaw-dropping data to galvanise a hundred party conversations, you really must shell out for this book. It's worth every penny.' Nick Lezard, Guardian 'This enlightening and hugely entertaining book tells the long and often astounding story of western sexuality and the endless attempts to repress it - At once broad-ranging and rich in detail, Berkowitz's cross-examination of human sexuality is both exciting and impressively relentless.' James McConnachie, Sunday Times 'A fascinating and gruesomely compelling study of human sexuality' Mail on Sunday 'From the Code of Hammurabi to the Wilde Trial, Eric Berkowitz finds any amount of entertaining evidence to support his thesis that sex law has been "as passionate and mercurial as the sex drive itself."' The Scotsman 'A wonderfully well-written, well-organised and accomplished book - Berkowitz has achieved a perfect balance between case study and analysis, and between narrative and reflection. - But it comes with a health warning. 350 pages of sex resulting in impalement or a barbed fish up the bottom may have a deleterious effect on the libido.' Sara Wheeler, Literary Review 'Throughout Berkowitz smoothly straddles the divide between the explicit and the subtle, the ridiculous and the sublime - Sex and Punishment constantly reminds us not to be complacent about past victories - nor to rest until genuine equality has been won, from the barricades to the bedroom.' Socialist Review 'A wonderful exposure of the illogicality of so much legislation that attempts to regulate sexual activity' Mary Beard, author of Pompeii 'Sex and Punishment is built on solid scholarship and spiced with plenty of sordid details that will make you the hit of any cocktail party.' Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality


<div>Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle throughout millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behaviour: sex. From the savage impalement of an Ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde for &#145;gross indecency&#8217; in 1895, Eric Berkowitz evokes the entire sweep of Western sex law. &#145;I don&#8217;t think I&#8217;ve ever read such an entertaining historical work. Whether you want to fuel your indignation, or simply furnish yourself with enough jaw-dropping data to galvanise a hundred party conversations, you really must shell out for this book. It&#8217;s worth every penny.&#8217; Nicholas Lezard, Guardian &#145;A wonderful exposure of the illogicality of so much legislation that attempts to regulate sexual activity ... from the age of consent to adultery and sex on college campuses.&#8217; Mary Beard &#145;A fascinating and gruesomely compelling study of human sexuality&#8217; Mail on Sunday &#145;Eric Berkowitz's cross-examination of human sexuality is both exciting and impressively relentless.&#8217; Sunday Times 'Stimulating &#133; Berkowitz has achieved a perfect balance between case study and analysis, and between narrative and reflection. &#133; This is a wonderfully well-written, well-organised and accomplished book.' Sarah Wheeler, Literary Review The cast of Sex and Punishment is as varied as the forms taken by human desire itself: royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, lonely goat-lovers, prostitutes of all stripes and London rent boys. Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged &#150; and justice, as Berkowitz shows &#150; rarely had anything to do with it.</div>


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4.7 von 5 Sternen
4.7 von 5 Sternen
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Von Franz K.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
An outstanding account of a tabooed aspect of society, written in a style devoid of sensationalism and with many useful quotations and references.
Despite its scientific quality, the book is captivating and easy to read.
Studying this hidden aspect of human history reveals the subconscious elements of many religious cults. The author does not show bias towards some cult or religion or another, he explains historical facts.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Sex and Punishment 12. Januar 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I enjoyed reading this book because it gives the reader an interesting and entertaining insight into laws regarding sexual practices during the centuries. It is interesting to discover what punishments for rape were enforced during different ages, or how homosexuality was treated. There is a good reference section at the end of the book, which may be useful for additional research.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book!!! 8. März 2015
Von Ana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
An awesome book! Everyone has something to learn from it! Great read and eye-opening for many, I'd bet! It really brings home the idea that we should all just mind our own business, not everyone else's business, be it sex or private life!
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  26 Rezensionen
20 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An insightful history of four thousand years of punishing desire 26. April 2012
Von William Courson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
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 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Hypocrisy, Tragedy & the Illegal Libido 22. Mai 2012
Von Timhrk - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
"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 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating survey, comic and horrifying. 23. Mai 2012
Von A. DeToro - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
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.
8 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating History of Sex and the Law 5. Mai 2012
Von Billy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
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.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A broad historic review of sex crimes and punishment 18. Mai 2013
Von F. Orion Pozo - Veröffentlicht auf
Disputes over sexual behavior are not new, nor is our attempt to use the legal system to resolve differences involving sex. But Eric Berkowitz has looked at the legal disputes involving sex and has found that the behavior considered a crime and the punishments administered to those found guilty have varied quite a lot. Not only over time, and he has decided to look at a 4,000 year time period, but also between different cultures of the same time, what is considered criminal sexual behavior can vary significantly.

Eric Berkowitz is a writer and a lawyer and he takes us on a historic survey of documented sex crimes and their punishments from the Mesopotamia of 4,000 years ago up to the dawn of the 20th century. He felt to do justice to the 20th and 21st centuries in such a broad survey would require a second volume. His treatment is chronological with chapters on the Ancient World, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, 1500-1700, the New World, the 18th, and the 19th centuries.

His treatment is not prurient, but it is quite descriptive as legal documents often have to be, yet his writing is lively and enjoyable. While there are 20 pages of notes and a 20 page Bibliography for those who want them, the book can be easily read without referring to them. A large part of sexual abuse has to do with men of privilege and power having their way with those less fortunate than themselves, both male and female. Sometimes these wrongs against the powerless are judged and condemned by our legal systems, often they are not. While the author does not take a stance in the book, the amount of injustice presented may be upsetting to the reader.
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