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Book and Media Reviews
March 1, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(9):1067-1072. doi:10.1001/jama.295.9.1069

In this interesting book, Edward Shorter, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Toronto, sets out to make three main points: that sexual desire is biologically determined; that sex is a total-body phenomenon; and that, after full expression in classical antiquity, sex became mostly a genital activity, until the last 100 years (with dramatically accelerated changes during the past 40 years). Shorter makes clear that his book is a history not of sex but of sexual desire, that is, “what people yearn to do in their heart of hearts” (p 3). He also acknowledges that it concerns the West and not other cultures.