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Showing posts from June, 2009

New York Times Book Review: Sunday June 28, 2009 - "Eye-Opening" and "Bombshell" is This New Bio of Masters and Johnson, Says Reviewer

June 28, 2009
Practice, Practice, Practice

The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier

Illustrated. 411 pp. Basic Books. $27.50

“I  can’t imagine anything that would make for more dull reading,” the sex researcher William Masters declared when asked, in his 60s, if he wished to write an account of his life. Now that account exists — and it’s a bombshell. It is also anything but envy-inducing or seductive. And therein, perhaps, lies its crucial importance.

Can the life of a man who spent most of the waking hours of his adult life either having sex, watching sex or talking sex be sad? The answer, as we see in Thomas Maier’s eye-opening “Masters of Sex” is a resounding yes.

Born in Cleveland in 1915 and banished 15 years later to boarding school by an abusive father who told him to expect no further support, Masters worked hard despite academic limitations. It was in medical school that he…

New York Times: Excerpt from "Masters of Sex" -Daily Review of June 26, 2009

"It often begins in the back seat of a parked car. It's hurry up and get the job done. The back seat of a car hardly provides an opportunity for the expression of personality." — William H. Masters

Into the dark, two beams of light showed the way. The piercing headlights from a Plymouth automobile cut a path through the unrelenting blackness of the Missouri countryside. Slowly the car carrying Mary Virginia Eshelman and her high school boyfriend, Gordon Garrett, rumbled down Route 160, a vast asphalt stretch without street lamps, where only the stars and moon lit the evening sky.

For his date with Mary Virginia, Gordon borrowed the brand new Garrett family car — a green 1941 sedan with a shiny chrome grill, protruding hood ornament, muscular fenders, and an ample backseat. They motored past rows of homesteads and crops, carved from the tall grass prairie. That evening, they joined friends at The Palace, the town's only theater, where the melodies and dancing of Hollywo…

New York Times Praises "Masters of Sex" -Daily Review of June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009
Out of the Bedroom, Into the Clinic


The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier
Illustrated. 411 pages. Basic Books. $27.50.

It’s hard to believe, but the word clitoris did not appear in Playboy magazine until 1968, in an interview with Masters and Johnson, the famous sex researchers.

Two years earlier, the pair had published “Human Sexual Response,” their first book, based on more than 10 years of clinical research. It was a best seller, and it rattled the culture in much the same way the first Kinsey Report had in 1948.

Alfred Kinsey compiled his information from surveys. His work was sociology. William Masters and Virginia Johnson actually watched people — a lot of people — have sex, with heart monitors and other gizmos attached to their subjects’ bodies. Here was science. Here was raw data that steamed America’s frozen peas.

“Human Sexual Response” wasn’t…

End of Culture As We Know It - Mainstream Media Is Quoting This Blog! NY Mag Ups the Ante In Exchange of Pleasantries

There's a first time for everything -- and this is the first time this blog has made news! Well, sort of. NEW YORK MAGAZINE not only called "Newhouse" an "excellent" biography two weeks ago in its profile of Si Newhouse, but it went on this week to quote this blog in its comments page. Can The New York Times and Foreign Affairs be far behind?

Comments: Week of June 15, 2009

1. “Terrifically insightful”—that’s how the blogger and biographer Thomas Maier described Steve Fishman’s profile of Si Newhouse, the patriarch of Condé Nast (“Si Newhouse’s Dream Factory,” June 8). Such positive sentiments were echoed throughout the blogosphere, where there was much praise for the poignancy of the portrait. Some also took the Condé Nast impresario to task for living in the past. On, one commenter wrote, “As someone who works in print media, I wish Si & Co. would put their creative zest to work embracing digital media rather than clinging to the tired and broken …

Hot Books, Cool Review

by Drew Coffey
Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William
Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who
Taught America How To Love by Thomas Maier,
Basic Books, 2009. This history of William
Masters and Virginia Johnson ran the risk of
falling between two schools: tawdry descriptions
of the sex volunteers, the couple’s
therapy, the electrodes connected to this or
that... or a dry description of the researchers
themselves. Surprisingly and admirably,
both sides of the story are given their due
here. The research, while rigorous and fairly
objective, is quite racy; the researchers, while
prim in their lab coats, are quite passionate.
Temperature rating: hot and dry—think Arizona.

Vote for Virginia? St. Louis Mag Polls on Whether to Give Johnson an Honorary Degree for Her Landmark Research at Washington University

ANALYSIS: In its current June issue online, St. Louis Magazine is taking a poll of its readers as to whether Virginia Johnson should be given an honorary degree for her landmark work with Dr. William Masters at Washington University's Medical School. For a decade, Masters and Johnson, with the approval of University Chancellor Ethan Shepley, conducted the largest sex experiment in U.S. history, blazing the trail for medicine involvement today in helping patients with sexual problems. This research and their resulting sexual therapy -- repeated by medical schools and therapist around the world -- made Masters and Johnson famous. Undoubtedly it's one of the most significant -- if not, THE most significant and impactful scientific research -- ever conducted at Washington University in St. Louis. Unlike Indiana University, where the Kinsey Institute remains today, the politics of Washington University essentially pushed Masters and Johnson out of the university in the 1960s, compe…

The Washington Post -- "Intelligent and Well-Conceived" Bio of Masters and Johnson

Love -- The Scientific Way
By Louis Bayard
Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Life and Times of William Masters And Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier
Basic. 411 pp. $27.50

How suggestively their names intertwined from the start: Masters, with its echoes of bondage and onanism, and Johnson, that venerable euphemism for penis. If they hadn't been the most famous sexologists of their day, they might have opened an S&M club in Tribeca. Gini, with her purring smile, would have greeted the customers; Bill would have stayed in the back room, testing the hoists and chains.
Which was only a couple of degrees removed from what they did in real life. Their partnership began in St. Louis in the mid-1950s, when William Masters, an ob-gyn and fertility specialist at Washington University, decided to launch a scientific inquiry into human sexuality. Unlike his predecessor, Alfred Kinsey, Masters proposed something far more immersive than questionnaires:…

The Washington Post Podcast - Listen to Chat with Ron Charles about "Masters of Sex", bio of Masters and Johnson

Hey my fellow Americans, let's put on the headset to listen to this Washington Post podcast about "Masters of Sex", the new biography of Masters and Johnson.

Reaction to "Masters of Sex" and the Allegations of Phony "Gay Conversion" Cases

My biography of Masters and Johnson, "Masters of Sex", deals in one chapter with their 1979 book about homosexuality in which they claimed that their therapy had "converted" homosexual patients into heterosexuals. The research from my book indicated that these case studies were apparently fabricated by Masters and that there were no records of such "conversion" cases. Since my book's appearance, Newsweek, The New York Times and Scientific American have reported on my findings and they have stirred a great debate within in the gay community. Here's a sample from a recent interview:
"For decades, anti-gay organizations have gleefully pointed to a Masters & Johnson study that claimed to cure homosexuality. It has also been used by the so-called "ex-gay" industry to "prove" gays could go straight, if they just tried hard enough.
In a groundbreaking book, "Masters of Sex", author Thomas Maier discovered through in…

NY Mag: Si Newhouse as Old Hollywood-Style Chief, Praises "Newhouse" Bio as "Excellent"

In the current issue of New York mag, Steve Fishman wrote a terrifically insightful profile of Si Newhouse and his media empire, and he also managed to say some kind words about my biography of the Conde Nast chieftain. Here's what Fishman said.
Both of Sam’s sons were college dropouts who worked in the business from the age of 21. Sam tapped Donald, his younger son, to run the newspapers. Si was installed at Condé Nast—he finally became chairman in 1975. “Those who knew him well seem to think he trusted the judgment of his younger son, Donald, more than Si,” writes Thomas Maier in his excellent biography Newhouse.
It was clear what Newhouse’s father thought of magazines; they were baubles, suitable for socially ambitious middle-aged ladies. Si, though, would ultimately prove his father wrong about the value of the magazines and about his talents.

St. Louis Mag: Masters of Sex is a "Smart, Absorbing Book" ... "Restrained but Evocative."

Staff Shelf: Masters of Sex

I’m reading galleys of Tom Maier’s restrained but evocative new book--Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love--and thinking about how quickly the social kaleidoscope shifts. Decades ago, in grad school at Saint Louis University, I wrote a paper about the response of St. Louis Catholics to the opening of the Masters & Johnson research clinic in the early 1960s. The quotes near seared a hole in my IBM-Selectric, correction-key-corrected pages. Now, Masters and Johnson's findings seem so obviously important, and so much more biological than prurient, that it’s hard for me to remember just how outraged St. Louis was--and how brazen I felt even tackling the topic.
On the other hand, even those two cool clinicians found the forbidden territory so steamy, they left the lab at night and headed straight for a hotel (Masters was determined they should relieve any tensions with each ot…

KMOX - John Carney Interview

Can listen to the June 1 podcast of a half-hour interview with host John Carney.

Inquiry:WICN, 90.5FM -- Interview on "Masters of Sex"

William Masters and Virginia Johnson revolutionized our medical and personal understanding of human sexuality by studying real couples and individuals having sex in a laboratory environment. Their best-selling book of their research, HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE, catapulted them into celebrity status in the 1960s and redefined everything people thought they knew about female sexuality. In their private counseling sessions they had nationally known politicians and movie and TV stars as their patients. But the personal relationship between Masters and Johnson was complex and controversial. Tonight on Inquiry, we speak with writer THOMAS MAIER about his revealing new biography MASTERS OF SEX: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM MASTERS AND VIRGINIA JOHNSON-THE COUPLE WHO TAUGHT AMERICA HOW TO LOVE.

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