Masters Of Sex

Masters Of Sex

3.4 5
by Thomas Maier

In Masters of Sex, critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at William Masters and Virginia Johnson, their pioneering studies of intimacy, and the sexual revolution they inspired. Masters and Johnson began their secret studies in a small Midwest laboratory, and soon became the nation's top experts on sex. Over the course of more than… See more details below


In Masters of Sex, critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at William Masters and Virginia Johnson, their pioneering studies of intimacy, and the sexual revolution they inspired. Masters and Johnson began their secret studies in a small Midwest laboratory, and soon became the nation's top experts on sex. Over the course of more than forty years, they analyzed and explained the secrets of orgasm, emotional fulfillment, and sexual dysfunction. But they divorced after twenty years amid a clash of success, betrayal, and jealousies. Weaving interviews with the notoriously private William Masters and the ambitious Virginia Johnson, Maier offers a titillating portrait of the legendary couple. Entertaining, revealing, and beautifully told, this groundbreaking book sheds light on the eternal mysteries of desire and intimacy, and their complicated roles in the American psyche.

Editorial Reviews

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
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
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.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
1.49(w) x 10.00(h) x 7.00(d)

What People are saying about this

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)
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)
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."

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