CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
WHEN LIONS ROAR is 'Brilliant' says Washington Post, Buy Now on Amazon

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
"What I like most in Maier's giant work is the spine of this saga, the all-important record of influence the great soldier-statesman-historian's life exerted on the future American president." -- Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, review in Chartwell Bulletin, The Churchill Centre

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Virginia Johnson Today - Before Carrie Bradshaw, Madonna, Sex and the City, Dr. Ruth, She Was Pioneer of Female Sexuality for American Women


The following excerpted from the new biography, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love," (Basic Books).
For those who knew her well, there was something disturbing about Virginia Johnson’s ignominious fate. How could one of the most remarkable American women of the 20th Century – who witnessed more about human sexuality than anyone in the world, who explored its multitude of physical wonders and emotional expressions -- be relegated to such obscurity? How could an independent-minded woman who embodied so many cultural changes in the world’s view about female sexuality be so unappreciated? Where were the 1970s feminists and the sexually confident young women of Generation X, those who emulated “Sex and the City” and text-messaged men asking for a date? These urbane, sophisticated women -- as much as any conservative suburban wife who might sneak a peek at Masters and Johnson’s books -- owed a debt to her more than they knew. As much as any woman in the last half century, Johnson advocated successfully on behalf of a women’s right to be treated equally as a man in the most intimate, often most personally satisfying, areas of life. Yet somehow, her own outcome made it seemed as if she’d suffered one more indignity in a man’s world.
Despite her many ailments, Virginia didn’t feel sorry for herself. The unsinkable spirit of a Missouri farm girl inside wouldn’t allow it. “This neuropathy is stupid,’ she said one afternoon slouched in a chair, her legs too weak to stand for very long. “Normally it leads to amputation and I’m not going to go that way.” Instead she dreamed of seeing her own memoir finished or perhaps a movie that might tell her story. When asked by a St. Louis gossip columnist if she planned to write an autobiography, she replied, “Yes, because I am afraid someone else will do it.” Years earlier, ABC television tried to make a film about the famous sex reseachers, reportedly with Shirley MacLaine portraying her, but the production collapsed because Gini wouldn’t cooperate with the scriptwriter’s demands. In recollections of her glorious past, she dropped enough names to hint at the breadth of her fame, sometimes with an air of unreality. She wanted Mike Nichols to produce the movie of her life and for Gore Vidal to write its screenplay. Maybe someone like Joanne Woodward could play her, and perhaps Robert Duvall as Bill Masters. The memories and reveries were still vivid enough to fill an empty afternoon. As a woman who once set the status quo aflame, she now enjoyed observing other assertive women like Madonna, those who never let the world define them. “Anyone who invents himself and who reinvents himself all the time, I always have a certain amount of admiration for the ability to do it,” she explained. “I love talent. I love people who can perceive and anticipate what people will buy. I think it's intriguing as the devil.”
If television producers didn’t call any more for bookings, if publishers didn’t offer large sums for her advice, it didn’t matter to her, Virginia claimed. “I don’t want any more credit,” she insisted. “I don’t give a damn. Every talk show immediately knows what my role was. The fact that I didn’t have an MD, half the people don’t even know it.”
The only thing about sex and love that still mattered to her remained the most unattainable, the most elusive part of her own life.
* * *
On a cold overcast day in October, Virginia stopped talking about her life for a moment, so she could rise from her livingroom chair, stretch her aching body and gaze out the window. From several floors above, she watched the people walking along the street near Washington University, where she and Bill once made medical history.
“I like being married -- I hate not being married now,” she admitted. “I was always a man’s woman. Always. Anyway you want to see it.” The room was filled with unopened boxes and storage crates. On the floor was a framed eight-by-ten publicity photograph of herself from a decade earlier, when men, she said, still found her desirous and attractive. “I’ve always pleased men. I always enjoyed adapting, to blend my interaction with them. I just enjoyed men.”
This pleasant apartment complex in St. Louis was her third residence in two years, each move to a place slightly less grand. The doorman and apartment manager were instructed to keep any visitors from her, even deny that she lived there if asked. The aura of secrecy from her work as a famous sex researcher still enveloped her existence. She had lived in so many different places, adopted so many name variations as her own. Forgotten were the names Gini and Mary Virginia. Even the name she’d been known as to the world, “Virginia E. Johnson”, was gone. In the telephone book, she was now listed as “Mary Masters” – still identified with the man who had been her partner, if not her love.
For a woman of such independence, who had proven in the lab the sexual equality if not the superiority of women, she found it inexplicable why her life had been defined so often by men. Was this her own fault, the result of society’s conditioning or simply the nature of things between men and women? She still wasn’t sure. “I was raised to be one of the greatest support systems to great men,” she explained, in a moment of revelation. “I can remember saying out loud -- and I’m appalled as I remember it -- being very pleased that I could be anything any man wanted me to be. And I was proud of that, for some ungodly reason.” She shook her head slowly, her thick eyeglasses balanced on her nose.
Twilight now turned the street scene below to shadows and shades of grey. Winter was coming to St. Louis and a chill could be felt against the pane. She turned from the window and stared at the old publicity photo of herself on the rug. “In retropect, I ask myself, ‘Geez, did I lose myself that totally?’ ” she wondered. “But I was very much a product of my time, of the era. In my mind, that was the ultimate as a woman. And I lost myself in there for quite a while.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Masters of Sex" Book Launch at New York Academy of Medicine with Author Thomas Maier, Guests Gay Talese, Laurie Garrett and Robert Kolodny


Here's the opening remarks for the book launch of "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love", which took place April 27, 2009 at the New York Academy of Medicine. Author Thomas Maier introduces one of the guest, legendary writer Gay Talese, and recalls Talese's questioning of Masters and Johnson's own love life -- in front of a convention of newspaper editors!
The theme of the evening was "Sex in America, Then and Now: The Lasting Legacy of Masters and Johnson", at the NYAM sponsored by the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.
Distinguished author Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at Masters and Johnson, experts on the subject of sex, and their lasting impact on the love lives of today's men and women in his new book
To mark the launch of this new biography of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Maier joins a distinguished panel looking at America's sexual attitudes since the 1960s and how it influences today's generation.
The guests included legendary writer Gay Talese, author of newly-reissued "Thy Neighbor's Wife," and Dr. Robert C. Kolodny, former associate director of the Masters and Johnson Institute and a co-author with them on several books.
The discussion will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett, now global health expert for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Maier's new biography, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love," is published by Basic Books.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tonight: Gay Talese, Laurie Garrett, Dr. Robert Kolodny on Panel for Launch of "Masters of Sex" at NY Academy of Medicine



Apr 27, 2009 • 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Sex in America, Then and Now: The Lasting Legacy of Masters and Johnson
Location: The New York Academy of Medicine
Speakers: Thomas Maier, Gay Talese, Dr. Robert C. Kolodny, Laurie Garrett
This event sponsored by: Hugh M. Hefner Foundation.
Distinguished author Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at Masters and Johnson, experts on the subject of sex, and their lasting impact on the love lives of today's men and women in his new book "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love".
To mark the launch of this new biography of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Maier joins a distinguished panel looking at America's sexual attitudes since the 1960s and how it influences today's generation.


The guests include legendary writer Gay Talese, author of newly-reissued "Thy Neighbor's Wife," and Dr. Robert C. Kolodny, former associate director of the Masters and Johnson Institute and a co-author with them on several books.
The discussion will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett, now global health expert for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Maier's new biography, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love," is published by Basic Books.

Registration Options:
This event is free but pre-registration is required.
About the Author:
Thomas Maier is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. His new book, "Masters Of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How To Love," will be published April 27.
Previously, "The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings," was one of the top annual holiday books chosen by USA Today in 2003, and recently re-issued along with a Warner Home Video documentary based on this book. "Dr. Spock: An American Life, was a “Notable Book of the YearEby The New York Times. "Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power and Glory of America’s Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It, won the 1994 Frank Luther Mott Award as best media book of the year.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New York Times: "Gay Conversion" Debate from Masters and Johnson Biography

Faked Evidence of “Gay Conversion”?

By JOHN TIERNEY

Did Masters & Johnson fake their evidence that they’d successfully “converted” more than 70 percent of men and women who were dissatisfied with their homosexuality? That claim was made in the 1979 book, “Homosexuality in Perspective,” by William Masters and Virginia Johnson. But it’s questioned in Thomas Maier’s new biography of the sexologists, “Masters of Sex.”

Mr. Maier summarizes his doubts in Scientific American, explaining that doubts about validity of the case studies arose among the staff at the Masters and Johnson clinic before the publication of the 1979 book:

Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977. . . . Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic’s most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

When the clinic’s top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these “storybook” cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.

Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.

With Johnson’s approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process.”That was a bad book,” Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book “to fit within the existing [medical] literature,” and feared that Bill simply didn’t know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, “Bill was being creative in those days” in the compiling of the “gay conversion” case studies.

Does “being creative” mean “making it up”? Dr. Masters continued to defend the evidence until his death, but Mr. Maiers says the success of the “gay conversion” therapy has never been proved.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Scientific American: Hugh Hefner as Patron of Masters and Johnson, Book Launch for "Masters of Sex" At NY Academy of Medicine

Apr 23, 2009, Scientific American

Got a sexy science project? Call Hugh Hefner for funding

By Adam Hadhazy in 60-Second Science Blog
If you show up to the New York Academy of Medicine the night of April 27th, you'll hear journalist Tom Maier discuss his new biography of famous sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. (Maier reveals some of what he dug up on the truth behind "gay conversion" therapy in this Perspective for ScientificAmerican.com.)

What you'll see if you look at who sponsored the event, however, is another familiar name: Hugh Hefner.

The Playboy founder's sponsorship of next week's event through the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation is in keeping with the Foundation's support of freedom and sexuality, says foundation spokesperson Matthew Pakula. Masters and Johnson were, of course, the husband and wife team often credited with starting the practice of sex therapy for couples. They studied the psychology and physiology of lovemaking from 1957 until the 1990s. (As for their own conjugal bliss, one can only speculate, but their marriage ended in an amicable divorce in 1992.)

Among their findings: Women can have multiple orgasms without a “refractory period” in between, unlike men, in whom many cases of impotence and premature ejaculation have a strong psychological basis.

Such sexy science is not the only apple of Hugh Hefner’s eye, however. According to the non-profit’s 2007 tax form, the organization has provided more than $225,000 in grants to a variety of institutions, a number of them science and medicine-based. Several thousands dollars went to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the National Asthma Association, for example.

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation also lends financial support to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health science research center, as well as progressive groups including NARAL Pro-Choice Foundation and Planned Parenthood. “We want to get good scientific information out to women so they can make reproductive health choices for themselves,” says Pakula.

The foundation also tries to make sure that becoming Miss March isn't the only career path for women, supporting the Women’s Business Development Center and Women Make Movies, a non-profit media arts organization promoting the making of movies about women by women (and no, not those kinds of movies).

Hefner also supports the arts with donations to, among others, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the Berklee College of Music, and the Multicultural Motion Picture Association.

“People don’t realize Mr. Hefner’s philanthropic interests,” says Pakula. “It’s not a side of him that often gets covered in the press.”

Which is shocking, really.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doubts About Masters and Johnson's "Gay Conversion" Cases Cited in Scientific America, More Fully Explained in New Biography


Today, the Scientific American published a short, adapted online excerpt from my new biography of Masters and Johnson, detailing the doubts about the "gay convertion" case studies cited in their 1979 book about homosexuality. It's interesting to how the media treated this book in the past (see video of Tom Brokaw's question to William Masters) and what I learned in the research and interviews for my new biography, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How To Love."
But this SciAm piece is only a small part of this debate and I urge anyone who is interested to read this chapter carefully and thoroughly.



From Scientific American, April 22, 2009
By Thomas Maier

A British survey published last month found that one in 25 therapists would assist gay and bisexual patients attempting to convert to heterosexuality. That's despite the fact that many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have for years condemned such practices, saying they don't work and can actually cause harm.
It may not be surprising that Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson and televangelist pastor Jerry Falwell, among many others, have supported programs designed to convert homosexuals away from "sin" and into the arms of God-fearing heterosexuality. But what may surprise you is one of the research sources cited by the Catholic Medical Association in 2006 when it declared that science "counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable, and offers hope for prevention and treatment."
That source? William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a husband–wife team who are perhaps the world's most famous sex researchers.
Back in 1979, on Meet The Press and countless other TV appearances, Masters and Johnson touted their book, Homosexuality in Perspective—a 14-year study of more than 300 homosexual men and women—hoping to build on their groundbreaking sex studies of heterosexuals that had helped ignite America's sexual revolution. The results seemed impressive: Of the 67 male and female patients with "homosexual dissatisfaction," only 14 failed in the initial two-week "conversion" or "reversion" treatment. (The 12 cases of attempted "conversion" were for men and women who had always believed they were homosexual and were troubled by it, while the 55 "reversion" cases were in people who believed their homosexuality was more fleeting.) During five years of follow-up, their success rate for both groups was better than 70 percent.
But were Masters and Johnson's claims of "conversion" in those 12 cases -- nine men and three women -- even true?
Prior to the book's publication, doubts arose about the validity of their case studies. Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I've done for my new book Masters of Sex. Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic's most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.
When the clinic's top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these "storybook" cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.
Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters' conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn't have a college degree and depended largely on her husband's medical expertise.
With Johnson's approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process. "That was a bad book," Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book "to fit within the existing [medical] literature," and feared that Bill simply didn't know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, "Bill was being creative in those days" in the compiling of the "gay conversion" case studies.
Until he died in 2001 Masters felt confident their book would be embraced eventually by the medical community, not just by purveyors of religious or political agendas. He believed the prospect of "conversion" therapy offered more hope, more freedom to patients than psychoanalysis ever could. "The criticisms are based on old concepts," Masters replied dismissively to the press. "We're reporting on 10 years of work with five years of follow-up—and it works."
But despite his claims, the success of Masters's "gay conversion" therapy have never been proved.

Doubts Surrounding "Gay Conversion" Case Studies of Masters and Johnson

Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality?
Masters and Johnson claimed to convert gays to heterosexuality in a 1979 book. But did they?

By Thomas Maier

A British survey published last month found that one in 25 therapists would assist gay and bisexual patients attempting to convert to heterosexuality. That's despite the fact that many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have for years condemned such practices, saying they don't work and can actually cause harm.
It may not be surprising that Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson and televangelist pastor Jerry Falwell, among many others, have supported programs designed to convert homosexuals away from "sin" and into the arms of God-fearing heterosexuality. But what may surprise you is one of the research sources cited by the Catholic Medical Association in 2006 when it declared that science "counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable, and offers hope for prevention and treatment."
That source? William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a husband–wife team who are perhaps the world's most famous sex researchers.
Back in 1979, on Meet The Press and countless other TV appearances, Masters and Johnson touted their book, Homosexuality in Perspective—a 14-year study of more than 300 homosexual men and women—hoping to build on their groundbreaking sex studies of heterosexuals that had helped ignite America's sexual revolution. The results seemed impressive: Of the 67 male and female patients with "homosexual dissatisfaction," only 14 failed in the initial two-week "conversion" or "reversion" treatment. (The 12 cases of attempted "conversion" were for men and women who had always believed they were homosexual and were troubled by it, while the 55 "reversion" cases were in people who believed their homosexuality was more fleeting.) During five years of follow-up, their success rate for both groups was better than 70 percent.
But were Masters and Johnson's claims of "conversion" in those 12 cases -- nine men and three women -- even true?
Prior to the book's publication, doubts arose about the validity of their case studies. Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I've done for my new book Masters of Sex. Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic's most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.
When the clinic's top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these "storybook" cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.
Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters' conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn't have a college degree and depended largely on her husband's medical expertise.
With Johnson's approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process. "That was a bad book," Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book "to fit within the existing [medical] literature," and feared that Bill simply didn't know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, "Bill was being creative in those days" in the compiling of the "gay conversion" case studies.
Until he died in 2001 Masters felt confident their book would be embraced eventually by the medical community, not just by purveyors of religious or political agendas. He believed the prospect of "conversion" therapy offered more hope, more freedom to patients than psychoanalysis ever could. "The criticisms are based on old concepts," Masters replied dismissively to the press. "We're reporting on 10 years of work with five years of follow-up—and it works."
But despite his claims, the success of Masters's "gay conversion" therapy have never been proved.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

O - The Oprah Magazine Reviews "Masters of Sex" -- Here's the Full Review

It's shocking to realize how little we knew about the physiology of sex—female sexuality, in particular—until the 1950s, when gynecological surgeon William Masters set up a semiclandestine laboratory at a university in St. Louis and, together with his assistant, Virginia Johnson, employed the latest technology (a plastic penis equipped with a camera!) and volunteer subjects to record what happens during the act. Illuminating the previously misunderstood and underestimated female orgasm, their findings (published in the 1966 best-seller Human Sexual Response) were an important factor in heating up the sexual climate of the 1960s. The increasingly successful researchers helped many grateful couples, who flocked to their clinic with their most intimate problems. But science failed to do much for Masters and Johnson themselves. Sex with her boss was understood to be part of the job description for Virginia Johnson, an attractive divorced single mother, yet when Masters finally left his wife for her, their marriage was a chilly professional partnership, sadly devoid of love—a mystery their experiments had left unexplored. Perhaps influenced by its steamy subject matter, Masters of Sex, Thomas Maier's new book about the couple's career, may strike some readers as unusually graphic for a biography, but this unsettling story of sex and science in theory and practice is ultimately more cautionary than titillating.
From the May 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Saturday, April 18, 2009

NEWSWEEK: Masters of Sex is "exhaustive" bio that asks 'What is This Thing Called Love?' Are 20-Somethings better at true love than Boomer parents?


Andrew Romano
NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Apr 27, 2009
Bill Masters may have been the 20th century's most unlikely romantic. Bald, thin-lipped, stocky and bow-tied, with a white shirt, white ballpoint pen and starched white lab coat, the brusque St. Louis Ob-Gyn appeared almost antiseptic in person, and his milky, wandering left eye convinced most acquaintances that he was as cold and clinical as he looked. Then there was his day job. As the driving force behind Masters and Johnson, the biggest brand in postwar sex research, Masters spent 40 years exploring the physiology of coitus, often with the help of a vibrating optical dildo called Ulysses—hardly the most sentimental of occupations. Least amorous of all, though, may have been Masters's love life. In the late '50s, he persuaded partner Virginia Johnson to have sex with him, but only, he explained, "as a way of further comprehending all that they were learning through [laboratory] observation"; they remained together for more than a decade of extracurricular experimentation and, beginning in 1971, an additional 22 years of marriage, even though they "weren't emotionally tied at all," as Johnson later confessed. All of which is just to say that Masters wasn't the sort of sap you'd expect suddenly to announce, at the tender age of 76, that he was leaving Johnson to marry a recently widowed blonde named Dody Oliver whom he'd privately considered the "love of his life" since 1938, when they dated for a single summer. Except that on Christmas Eve 1992, that's exactly what he did. "I carried a torch for her for 55 years," Masters explained, giddy as a schoolboy.

The story of Masters's secret sweetheart isn't the only scoop in Thomas Maier's exhaustive new dual biography, "Masters of Sex." (We learn, for example, that Masters probably fabricated case studies to support the "gay conversion" therapy advocated in the couple's third book, "Homosexuality in Perspective.") But for a reader like me, who's young enough, at 26, to look back and wonder what exactly the beaded, bearded, braless sexual revolution has to do with America's current attitudes toward copulation, it may be the most revealing. As the story of Masters and Johnson makes clear, rescuing sex from the ancient mists of myth, mystery and religiosity left America a happier and healthier place. And yet Maier's book—appearing in the midst of a minor Aquarian revival that includes a new edition of Gay Talese's "Thy Neighbor's Wife" and screenings last week in New York of "Carnal Knowledge" and "The Graduate" at the Museum of Modern Art's ongoing Mike Nichols retrospective—also suggests that our subsequent attempts to liberate sexual pleasure from the grip of fusty, old-fashioned love had much the opposite effect. Not every hang-up, it seems, should come unhung.
When Masters and Johnson began their research in 1957—they'd eventually observe an estimated 14,000 live orgasms—America's carnal knowledge was largely limited to the local priest's preachings on the subject, plus the occasional pinch of Freud or Kinsey. With the publication of "Human Sexual Response" in 1966 and "Human Sexual Inadequacy" four years later, however, the nation finally had a chance to learn the fundamentals of fornication: women can be multiorgasmic; intercourse may continue well into one's 80s; clitoral orgasms are hardly inferior to their vaginal counterparts; and so forth. The results, of course, were revolutionary, especially for women, and as Maier notes, the vast majority of couples benefited from Masters and Johnson's therapeutic touch. But despite its necessity, the revolution they unleashed led some libertines to view the bedroom as little more than a lab—a place, in short, where sex needn't be more than a pleasurable "mutual masturbation exercise," as Masters himself once put it. Which is when people started getting screwed.
In Talese's book, a riveting real-life account of America's erotic awakening, married L.A. insurance salesman John Bullaro indulges in an affair with co-worker Barbara Cramer that quickly leads to additional dalliances at Sandstone, a swingers' retreat founded by Cramer and her husband, John Williamson. Eventually the Sandstoners inform Bullaro's wife, Judy, of his infidelities; seeking her own share of liberation, she shacks up with Williamson on the hilltop compound. Divorce—not enlightenment—soon follows. "The Graduate" and "Carnal Knowledge" trace similar (if fictional) arcs: the forbidden intergenerational fling between Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson leaves both miserable, and the "virile, dominant" playboy Jonathan Fuerst winds up impotent and alone after decades of loveless affairs. Saddest of all, though, may be Virginia Johnson, who, as Maier writes, had "long separated [sex] ... from love." While many of her fellow explorers ultimately gravitated toward traditional relationships—the Bullaros married other people, Braddock rode off with the younger Robinson, and Hugh Hefner's first ladies, Barbi Benton and Karen Christy, went in search of real husbands—we last see the thrice-divorced Johnson cursing her former partner from the confines of a nursing home, where, as if to acknowledge a past that never was, she now goes by the name Mary Masters.

None of which is particularly surprising; free-love fallout has long been a cliché. What is surprising, however, is where our culture has come to rest after the sexual mood swings—from repression to release to the reactionary '80s, when AIDS and the Moral Majority reigned supreme—of the second half of the last century. The shift is most evident, I think, in how the youngest batch of sexually active Americans, the so-called millennials, approach sexuality. Unlike our grandparents, we're not shocked by cunnilingus, or masturbation, or pleasure that isn't strictly procreative, and for this rather healthy sense of perspective we have Masters, Johnson and our boomer parents to thank. But dig deeper and you'll discover that millennials are surprisingly turned off by—or at least not especially excited about—the prospect of loveless sex, which isn't quite what the Williamsons of the world anticipated.
Consider the stats. Today, less than half of all high-school students have done the deed: 47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991. Among 15- to 17-year-olds the numbers have fallen even further, from 40 percent or so in 1995 to about 30 percent now, which suggests that millennials are waiting longer to lose their virginity. Promiscuity is also on the outs: the percentage of teens who reported four or more partners dipped from 18.7 to 14.9 between 1991 and 2007, and the rate of teen pregnancy—a related phenomenon—has plummeted since the late 1950s, even as abortions have become rarer. The fact is, despite a rather high tolerance for superficial raunch—celebrity crotch shots, "sexting," Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs and whatever else is worrying parents and the press these days—my fellow Organization Kids have largely reacted against boomer excess (see: divorce rate, 50 percent) and increased risk (AIDS) by trending in their own bedrooms toward caution and commitment; only 42 percent of teens support casual sex, after all, down from 52 percent in 1987.
That's a welcome development, whether motivated by maturity or ambition. At the height of his fame, Bill Masters admitted, "I haven't the vaguest idea … what love is." Despite his discoveries—and the decades of erotic exploration that followed—we still aren't sure. But we have a better idea of what it isn't.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Booklist gives starred review to "Masters of Sex": Calls it a "wonderfully written and totally absorbing look at an amazing couple."

Booklist magazine of the American Library Association gives a starred review to "Masters of Sex", saying that it "offers a wonderfully written and totally absorbing look at an amazing couple." Another review can be found at O - The Oprah magazine in the current May issue.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

O - The Oprah Magazine Reviews "Masters of Sex" -- Loveless Marriage of M&J Part of Their Mystery



In the brand-new May 2009 edition of O - The Oprah Magazine -- Francine Prose reviews Masters of Sex by Thomas Maier, "a strangely chilling story of two sexual pioneers."
Prose recounts the story of Masters and Johnson and underlines the remarkable modern Pygmalion-like story of Virginia Johnson. "Sex with her boss was understood to be part of the job description for Virginia Johnson, an attractive divorced single mother, yet when Masters finally left his wife for her, their marriage was a chilly professional partnership, sadly devoid of love -- a mystery their experiments had left unexplored."
As Prose concludes, "Masters of Sex, Thomas Maier's new book about the couple's career, may strike some readers as unusually graphic for a biography, but this unsettling story of sex and science in theory and practice is ultimately more cautionary than titillating."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kindle: "Masters of Sex" now an Amazon e-book version of Masters and Johnson biography


Starting today, Kindle is selling e-book versions of "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How to Love."
Praise for “Masters of Sex” by Thomas Maier
“Masters of Sex is a terrific book about the unlikely couple who touched off the sexual revolution. More than a biography, this is an intimate history of sex in the twentieth-century.” -- Debby Applegate, Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher.
"A well-written and insightful account of Masters and Johnson, who, in a clinical sense, probably knew more about sex and marital love than any other couple in America." -- Gay Talese, author of "Thy Neighbor's Wife "and "A Writer's Life"
“It’s hard to imagine any sex researcher or serious student of sexuality who wouldn’t profit from reading this book. The information revealed in Masters of Sex has never surfaced before—and besides being a real contribution to the history of science, it’s a totally captivating read!”—Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., Past President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and author of Prime: Adventures and Advice About Sex, Love and the Sensual Years
"The subject of this book--sex and love--should interest just about everyone. As a bonus, Thomas Maier is a very fine writer, an accomplished biographer, and an astute reporter. If you read only one biography this year, it should be this first-ever look at the secretive lives of Masters and Johnson." -- Nelson DeMille, bestselling author of "The Gold Coast "and "The Gate House"