One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History

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Overview

Ben Franklin saved the American revolution by seducing French women. An early American sex scandal set the nation on the path to the Civil War. A gay love affair between James Buchanan and Senator William King aided the secession movement. The sex lives of America’s most powerful leaders have been so whitewashed by historians that people think George Washington and Abe Lincoln were made of marble, not flesh and blood. Here, notorious Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and historian David Eisenbach reflect on the ...

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One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American Hi

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Overview

Ben Franklin saved the American revolution by seducing French women. An early American sex scandal set the nation on the path to the Civil War. A gay love affair between James Buchanan and Senator William King aided the secession movement. The sex lives of America’s most powerful leaders have been so whitewashed by historians that people think George Washington and Abe Lincoln were made of marble, not flesh and blood. Here, notorious Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and historian David Eisenbach reflect on the sexual mores of eras past and present, and the evolving role of the press as truth seekers and opinion makers, and discuss how America can reform its politics and begin addressing the real problems that threaten our nation. Along the way, they shed new light on key events like the American Revolution and the Civil War, showing that the root of political moralism is not religious conviction but cynical hypocrisy and revealing how Americans can fulfill the promise of the Pledge of Allegiance and truly secure liberty and justice for all.

Did You Know?

• Ben Franklin’s well-earned reputation as a ladies’ man aided his effort to secure France’s military assistance during the Revolutionary War.

• Thomas Jefferson exposed Alexander Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds to foil his plans to modernize the banking system and industrialize the economy.

• James Buchanan’s gay love affair with a slave owner made him a proslavery advocate who encouraged secessionists on the eve of the Civil War.

• During World War I, Warren G. Harding had an affair with a German 

spy who blackmailed the Republican Party when he ran for president.

• The FBI believed that John Kennedy had affairs with a Nazi spy during World War II and an East German spy during the Cold War.

• During the Lewinsky scandal, Larry Flynt used his sex files to help save Bill Clinton’s presidency.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Legendary Hustler publisher, First-Amendment crusader, and cultural provocateur Flynt joins forces with Columbia University professor Eisenbach to pull back the covers on key figures in American history, revealing in a heavily-annotated guide to presidential peccadilloes that sex scandals are nothing new. While most readers will be familiar with Bill Clinton's "sexual relations," J. Edgar Hoover's eccentricities, and JFK's fondness for women, they're likely to be surprised at the extent that the Kennedys' bed-hopping (including Jackie's) was kept quiet in favor of political and financial gain. And the raunchy public writings and private behavior Ben Franklin and other famous Americans will make some readers blush. The authors illustrate the extent to which politicians' private lives bleed into public policy that affects millions of Americans; FDR opened the door for Hoover to manipulate virtually every politician in office, for instance, and James Buchanan's 32-year affair with another man helped pave the way for the Civil War. Those looking for salacious details will find them, but Flynt and Eisenbach favor analysis over sensationalism, providing a new perspective of the men and women who have shaped our nation. (May)
Kirkus Reviews

Of prurient politicians and pulsating presidents.

Having earned renown as a pornographer and as a champion of First Amendment rights, Flynt moves onto slightly more scholarly turf by recruiting professor Eisenbach (American History/Columbia Univ.) to the cause of studying all the naughty stuff about our leaders. The result is something of a set of salacious index cards, not really connecting to anything except passing the test—presumably, that test being the reader's ability to titillate an audience at the next cocktail party with juicy details about Dolley Madison's derriere and Eleanor Roosevelt's fondness for Sapphic threesomes. What's that, you say? Well, Dolley was known in her time for bestowing kisses and much, much more on the powerful men of her day, calming down just a little after marrying future president and well-known drag James Madison. But, but, a reader familiar with those fine denizens of Montpelier and the Executive Mansion will object, that's not true. Right, admit the authors: "Although the tales of Dolley's rampant promiscuity are not true, the story of how they got started provides insight into how this one woman rocked the political world of the young Republic." And so most of this book is a collection of saucy gossip guaranteed to thrill an impressionable eighth-grader. The authors' general strategy is to present this gossip as fact—for how could one sell dirty stories about Lincoln, Eleanor, and even J. Edgar otherwise—and only then to backpedal to what everyone knows, which is that Bill Clinton was a horndog, James Buchanan a walker on the wild side, J. Edgar a walker in women's pumps, etc.

Meh. If you're not up on the sex life of, say, Millard Fillmore, then you might learn a thing or two here. Otherwise, this book mostly titters and snickers at the back of the class.

From the Publisher
“Well reasoned, well written, and well documented.”—Booklist

“Those looking for salacious details will find them, but Flynt and Eisenbach favor analysis over sensationalism, providing a new perspective of the men and women who have shaped our nation.”—Publishers Weekly

“Dig into the unwholesome side of American history to uncover how the sexual peccadilloes of the men we elect have transformed the world for good and ill.”—The Stranger

“Only liars will pretend that this book isn’t absolutely fascinating.”—Buffalo News

 

"Presidential hanky-panky is as old as the nation itself. But no one can bring it to life quite like Larry Flynt."—Steven E. Levingston, Washington Post

“The book is unapologetic, assertive, and sure to be controversial.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

"It is amazing that this inherently salacious subject could be treated in such a thoughtful and  documented fashion, scholarly even, and yet be such a great read."—Robert Scheer, author of The Great American Stickup

“Americans often like to think that extramarital sex – or even a strong libido – is somehow a sign of poor character in our presidents. One Nation Under Sex explodes that myth. From Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson onward, our most respected leaders have always engaged in bedroom behavior that would outrage the cultural commissars—at no harm to the republic. You don’t have to agree with all of Larry Flynt’s and David Eisenbach’s readings of history to enjoy this sex-filled tour through more than 200 years of scandal.”—David Greenberg, presidential historian, Rutgers University, and author of Nixon’s Shadow

“Larry Flynt has waged a lifelong battle against hypocrisy and prudery: shattering every propriety and slaughtering every sacred cow. The political classes have never been safe from his special brand of satire. Now he turns his rabble-rousing sensibility backwards with a similar imperative. No more whitewashing! Smash decorum! Bring down the elites!”—Laura Kipnis, How To Become a Scandal and of Against Love

"As a Washington, DC, investigative reporter for two decades, I was certain the secret personal lives of politicians had an unappreciated affect on public policy and, eventually, history.  Here's the book that documents it."—Rudy Maxa, former Washington Post reporter and columnist

“Teaming up Larry Flynt with Columbia University historian David Eisenbach seems like an odd match but Flynt and Eisenbach have combined their talents and perspectives to produce a unique book that transgresses the holy empire of American history by providing a serious investigation of the sex lives of the Presidents. Be warned: this is not smut; this is an important and thorough historical excavation of how sex built the White House and our nation.”—Jim Downs, Professor of History, Connecticut College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230105034
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 713,721
  • Product dimensions: 9.32 (w) x 6.46 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt is the legendary publisher of Hustler magazine and has been a famous crusader for Frst Amendment and privacy rights for over three decades. His landmark Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, is taught in law schools throughout the United States. A former political candidate himself, Flynt remains active in his longstanding campaign to expose sexual hypocrisy in politics and transform the national political dialogue. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

David Eisenbach, Ph.D., is a professor of American history at Columbia University, where he teaches courses on political history and the presidency. He was the creator, writer, and host of the two-hour History Channel special, The Beltway Unbuckled, about how presidential sex shaped American history.  His first book, Gay Power: An American Revolution, won the ALA 2007 Stonewall Honor Book award and the Lambda Literary Foundation named it a finalist for the LGBT Studies Award. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Founding Flirts and Fornicators 5

Chapter 2 Sex and the Civil War 37

Chapter 3 Affairs of State 65

Chapter 4 The Ballad of Franklin and Eleanor 101

Chapter 5 America's Sex Czar 133

Chapter 6 The Nude Frontier 169

Chapter 7 Sex, Death and the Kennedys 195

Chapter 8 The Full Bill Clinton 223

Conclusion Fulfilling the Pledge 257

Notes 265

Index 284

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sexy Political Book

    "One Nation Under Sex" by Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach, PH.D. is a very compelling and fantastic book. I was fortunate to actually see them in person (and get their signatures) just this past Thursday because they were doing a book signing in downtown D.C. at one of the bookstores. There were many people in attendance, and I remember how both Larry and David wanted to ensure that they shared some of the information that was in the book. I am glad that they took the time to do this because it added more dimension and understanding of some of the messages that they were communicating through the book. I am about to list a combination of what is in the book, and what was discussed during their appearance. Please understand that I am a happily married heterosexual woman who is tolerant and open-minded to all backgrounds and sexual orientations. I had to share this because my thoughts on what is in this book may potentially be shocking to some, but easy to understand with a preface of my background. The following are some juicy tidbits that were discussed at the book signing appearance of Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach PH.D.:
    Abraham Lincoln's intimate relationship with a handsome slave owner
    The theme of the book is to get the message across that presidents are human, and many of the best presidents have had healthy sexual appetites.
    The Roosevelt's had a complex love affair that included other people.
    Harding, Wilson, and Kennedy were some of the wildest presidents.
    J Edgar Hoover (a well-known FBI director) denied Mafia's existence. The Mafia had possible photographic evidence of Hoover's and Clyde Tolson's sexual relationship. This was a big deal because the book cites certain instances where J Edgar Hoover took a no-holds barred approach with the sex lives of other powerful politicians.

    The following is some of the captivating information that is contained in "One Nation Under Sex" that is tied into what was mentioned at the speaking appearance and is strongly tied into history:

    1)Benjamin Franklin was in his 70's when he was sent to help America win French support for George Washington's army. Benjamin Franklin was selected as ambassador to France because he had a reputation as a ladie's man (pages 5-36).
    2) During the time he was in office from 1857 to 1861, President James Buchanan encouraged proslavery forces in the lead-up to the Civil War, and he chose to allow Southern states to secede towards the end of his term (pg. 50). James, the only known bachelor president, fell in love with Alabama politician William Rufus King (pg. 50). I admit that I found their union to be that of two soulmates because they stayed together for 32 years, until William died in 1853 (pgs. 50-51) However, I do agree with the authors (Larry and David) that President James Buchanan's relationship with William King (who was a slaveowner) explained his refusal to stop the South from seceding, and why proslavery states had valuable time to gather their forces before Lincoln became president (pg 54)
    3) Lincoln's relationship with a handsome 23 year old, his wife Mary Todd, and a 44-year old Captain shaped his personality in becoming the Great Emancipator, which is common knowledge that Abraham Lincoln is credited with helping to end slavery (pgs. 37-63)
    4) Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman was a lesbian couple that helped transform Eleanor Roosevelt into a political powerhouse (pgs. 113-114) Nancy and Marion are cre

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Save your money for a better read

    Average prose. Provided very little knew information about sexual scandals pertaining to our past presidents. Information which most likely can be found on Wikipedia. A term paper that any college student could have written. Especially with the closing comments.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    Surprisingly good

    A great read if you are interested in history, politics or scandal. Even if only some of the stories are true, the implications are enormous. It makes you think about what other world, national or local events have occurred as a result of decisions made in the heat of the moment!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Blaaaaaa

    Just get a free sample and you wouldnt be waisting your money and if you like it then buy it

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Interesting

    I learned so much about some of our founding fathers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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