John Heidenry, a former Penthouse Forum editor, has written one of the very few detailed accounts of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. He describes the preliminary period of the 1950's and before leading into the Sexual Revolution, and also describes the depressing reaction to the sexual revolution which led to very successful efforts in the 1980's and 1990's to stamp it out so it would never return again.
The only other book which can come close to matching Heidenry's tome is MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR (2000) by Harvard scholar David Allyn (no relation to me). Heidenry was a major player in the heady days when PLAYBOY imitators such as HUSTLER and PENTHOUSE (which employed Heidenry as an editor of the PENTHOUSE FORUM) were big publishing success stories. Perhaps this is why one of the strongest offerings of his book are detailed accounts of the various sex enthusiast publishing efforts and empires, and description of such key movers and shakers as Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt.
The war on the Sexual Revolution and its successful if unethical tactics are described by John Heidenry in detail, and are the best part of his very well written book. Former Avco-Embassy Films publicist John Leo seems, according to Heidenry, to have single handedly invented the Herpes scare of the early 1980's, trumpeted forth from the pages of the secular publishing giant, TIME Magazine, and also from the pages of the Catholic Church affiliated COMMONWEAL. Leo penned articles in the early 80's for both publications ballyhooing the Herpes scare as the worst disease to afflict humankind since the Black Plague of the the Middle Ages, and seems to have done it "without a shread of epidemiological evidence." Leo is labeled one of the "principal anti-sex gurus," another of whom included George Leonard, the former West Coast Editor of LOOK Magazine. Leonard had once suggested in LOOK that sexual intercourse could and would be shown on network television, but went on, in 1982, to renounce his advocacy of the Sexual Revolution in his book titled THE END OF SEX. According to author Heidenry, Leonard had a lot of company in the world of pro-sex turned anti-sex journalists. The Sexual Revolution, he states, was largely assassinated by turn-coat media professionals.
Heidenry concludes that sexual activity continues in the world of human beings, even though the Sexual Revolution died. "As survey after survey affirms, people are having the same amount of sex. The human sex drive appears to be a constant factor in history. Most kinds and amounts of sex people are having appears to be increasing, though some forms of high risk behavior such as one night stands and wife swapping ("swinging") became, after the fall of the Sexual Revolution, highly unfashionable."
The Sexual Revolution was an important cultural event in American and world history. Very little has been written about it recently, and John Heidenry's excellent book is a wonderful exception. Every person who desires to understand the subject of sexual relations should obtain and read this book.