A whirlwind tour of the sexual revolution in America, Make Love, Not War grew from the author's fascination with a bygone period of rebellion and experimentation whose effects linger throughout the culture. Born in 1969, David Allyn remembers "growing up with the vague sense of having missed something magical and mysterious. I remember the adolescent's agony of realizing that my parents and teachers had witnessed extraordinary social transformations, the likes of which we might never see again." Allyn's zest for his subject, and his dewy-eyed admiration of the sexual pioneers of the '60s and '70s, make him a pleasure to read, although the topic may be too large for a book of this size. There is little space to put subjects like public nudity, the demise of censorship, and the challenge to miscegenation laws into historical context. The author's more detailed discussions fare better, and he offers engaging new source material -- in many cases from his own interviews -- on open marriage, the joys of the Pill, gay liberation, and the sexual double standard. Although an advocate for sexual freedom, Allyn notes the paradox that "perhaps, in the end, shining the light of liberation into every dark corner of daily life has made it more difficult to indulge in some sexual pleasures spontaneously and unself-consciously." We may now feel an urge to define ourselves sexually at a young age, he argues, missing out on the thrill of the forbidden, and the chance to just fool around.
When Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl hit bookstores in 1962, the sexual revolution was launched and there was no turning back. Soon came the pill, the end of censorship, the advent of feminism, and the rise of commercial pornography. Our daily lives changed in an unprecedented time of sexual openness and experimentation.
Make Love, Not War is the first serious treatment of the complicated events, ideas, and personalities that drove the sexual revolution forward. Based on first-hand accounts, diaries, interviews, and period research, it traces changes in private lives and public discourse from the fearful fifties to the first tremors of rebellion in the early sixties to the heady heyday of the revolution.
Bringing a fresh perspective to the turbulence of these decades, David Allyn argues that the sexual revolutionaries of the '60s and '70s, by telling the truth about their own histories and desires, forced all Americans to re-examine the very meaning of freedom.
Written with a historian's attention to nuance and a novelist's narrative drive, Make Love, Not War is a provocative, vivid, and thoughtful account of one of the most captivating episodes in American history.
About the Author
David Allyn has a Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught history at Princeton. He is now a journalist and writer, and his articles have appeared in the Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The New York Daily News, and the Journal of American Studies. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.