Hera Cook, The Long Sexual Revolution: English Women, Sex, and Contraception, 1800–1975, Oxford University Press, 2004; 426 pp.; £45.00; ISBN 0-19-925239-4

How much do you know about the sex lives of your family or closest friends? We might talk endlessly of sex in twenty-first century Britain, but there still remains a veil of privacy, rectitude and embarrassment over what people get up to in the bedroom and beyond. Turn to the past, and such silences grow more deafening. The sources for exploring nineteenth and twentieth-century sexual cultures are patchy and problematic. Perhaps more importantly, historians have been strangely uninterested in such questions. Whilst the history of sexuality is an increasingly vibrant field, Foucault's over-determining influence has focused attention on questions of regulation, power and subjectivity. As a result, ironically, we seem...

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