Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love

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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by Thomas Maier
     
 

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Now a New Showtime Original Series

Showtime's dramatic series Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, is based on this real-life story of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Before Sex and the City and ViagraTM, America relied on Masters and Johnson to teach us everything we needed to know about what goes

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Overview


Now a New Showtime Original Series

Showtime's dramatic series Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, is based on this real-life story of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Before Sex and the City and ViagraTM, America relied on Masters and Johnson to teach us everything we needed to know about what goes on in the bedroom. Convincing hundreds of men and women to shed their clothes and copulate, the pair were the nation’s top experts on love and intimacy. Highlighting interviews with the notoriously private Masters and the ambitious Johnson, critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier shows how this unusual team changed the way we all thought about, talked about, and engaged in sex while they simultaneously tried to make sense of their own relationship. Entertaining, revealing, and beautifully told, Masters of Sex sheds light on the eternal mysteries of desire, intimacy, and the American psyche.

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Editorial Reviews

Louis Bayard
Thomas Maier's intelligent and well-conceived biography reminds us that, as recently as the mid-1960s, "the word 'pregnant' could be bleeped from any television show. Sex education was kept out of the classroom." Copulation itself was "the private domain of the marital bed." Masters and Johnson, with their pharmaceutical calm and their vast edifices of data, made sex an over-the-counter commodity—and, along the way, demolished some entrenched myths.
—The Washington Post
Cristina Nehring
"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.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
This densely packed biography analyzes the lives of well-known sex therapists William Masters and Virginia Johnson and their groundbreaking work on human sexuality. Drawing on numerous interviews with the couple, Maier (Dr. Spock: An American Life) creates a fascinating, provocative work that will serve as a standard on the topic. Unfortunately, actress Dorie Barton's narration is ill matched to the material; she seems at times to be addressing an audience of fellow sorority sisters. For this reason, the print copy alone is recommended, for university libraries supporting therapy curricula and for larger public libraries. ["Academics and amateur sexperts alike will rejoice," read the review of the Basic Bks: Perseus hc (Xpress Reviews, LJ 4/17/09).—Ed.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Newsday writer Maier (The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, 2003, etc.) offers a dry look at the research team who unlocked the secrets of America's bedrooms, ushering in the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. The authors of Human Sexual Response, the incendiary 1966 primer that inaugurated the field of couples sex therapy, William Masters and Virginia Johnson had been research partners since 1956, when Masters, a doctor specializing in fertility and reproductive dysfunction, hired Johnson as an assistant at Washington University. Johnson, a 31-year-old divorcee with two children, was a college graduate from Missouri with little knowledge of medicine but a good deal of aplomb. Masters, ten years her senior and married with two children, had just gotten the green light to explore the uncharted terrain of human sexuality. Warned that he was committing academic suicide, Masters nonetheless delved into the clinical observation of coupling, masturbation, climaxing and performance anxiety. All the while Johnson was at his side, coaching the testing partners, filming, recording data and remaining admirably uncritical. Over ten years the two cemented their research and, discreetly, their amatory partnership. Though they were forced out of the umbrage of the university, they enjoyed remarkable success in their private practice, unseating psychoanalysis as the preferred mode of healing sexual dysfunction. With the publication of their work, they also became famous and rich, though later books on homosexuality and AIDS tarnished their reputations. Maier tries to get at the kernel of this curious and enduring partnership-they finally married in 1971, divorced in 1992-though Masters in particularremains a hard nut to crack, and the narrative lacks the punch that such a subject should merit. An unsatisfying biography of a bold team whose influence on cultural mores and women's sexual emancipation cannot be underestimated.
From the Publisher

Nelson DeMille, bestselling author of The Gold Coast and The Gate House
“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.”

Gay Talese, author of Thy Neighbor’s Wife and A Writer’s Life
“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”

Debby Applegate, Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
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.”

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer
“No novelist could come up with something as remarkable as the real life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the married experts giving advice to America on sex and love. With insightful reporting and writing, Thomas Maier has captured this extraordinary relationship between these male and female sex researchers, a legacy that transformed the way couples live today.”

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
“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!”

Hugh Hefner, editor in chief, Playboy magazine
“Thomas Maier has written the intimate, engaging biography that Masters and Johnson deserve. Critics often accused the pair of ‘dehumanizing’ sex with their research—of removing its mystery. But as Gini Johnson told Playboy in 1968, mystery is just another name for superstition and myth. The more we know about the physiology of arousal, the better we can enjoy the uniquely human experience of sex for pleasure. Masters and Johnson showed tremendous courage in their research.”

Booklist (starred review)
“A wonderfully written and totally absorbing look at an amazing couple.”

O, The Oprah Magazine
“Perhaps influenced by its steamy subject matter, Masters of Sex…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.”

Library Journal Online
“Award-winning biographer Maier…delivers the first in-depth look at a complex couple who helped revolutionize the study of human sexual response. Academics and amateur sexperts alike will rejoice.”

Discover magazine
“Maier’s illuminating biography delves into the lives of the couple that started science’s sexual revolution.”

The American Prospect
“Absorbing…Masters of Sex is this spring's true must-read book for those looking to revisit the heady, early days of the sexual revolution.”

The Economist
“If there is a moral to this tale, it is perhaps that the human heart remains as much of a mystery as the sex organs once used to be.”

The Daily Beast
“Sedulously researched and deeply absorbing…Masters of Sex is a richly informed and elegantly organized account of the two people behind the logo that stood for new sexual horizons.”

The Buffalo News
“Writing a readable but serious biography of Masters and Johnson was no easy task. The natural impulse is to drain such passionate clinicality of personality and leave a hollow crusade in its place. Maier’s book resists it constantly. It’s about heroes and flaws and a couple of people whose lives underlay a good half of what we know for sure about what we all think we know so much.”

New York Times Book Review
“A bombshell…eye-opening.”

New York Times
“Told with patience and care...Maier writes well, and with humor.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465079995
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
07/30/2013
Edition description:
Media tie-in
Pages:
440
Sales rank:
144,517
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Gay Talese
"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)
Nelson DeMille
"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)
Hugh Hefner
"Thomas Maier has written the intimate, engaging biography that Masters and Johnson deserve. Critics often accused the pair of 'dehumanizing' sex with their research-of removing its mystery. But as Gini Johnson told Playboy in 1968, mystery is just another name for superstition and myth. The more we know about the physiology of arousal, the better we can enjoy the uniquely human experience of sex for pleasure. Masters and Johnson showed tremendous courage in their research."--(Hugh Hefner, editor in chief, Playboy magazine)
Pepper Schwartz
"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)
Debby Applegate
"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)
Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer
"No novelist could come up with something as remarkable as the real life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the married experts giving advice to America on sex and love. With insightful reporting and writing, Thomas Maier has captured this extraordinary relationship between these male and female sex researchers, a legacy that transformed the way couples live today."

Read More

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