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The Politics of Sex in America

List Price: $17.95

February 14, 2012 | Paperback | 6x 9, 400 Pages | ISBN 9781619020689
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"An insightful look at the history of sexual mores and politics and how we got to such a contentious place." —Booklist

Americans are coming to wonder what happened to hope and change. How did we get here, to this divisive paralysis, in what was supposed to be a new era of progressive change? How did we get from Barack Obama’s historic victory in 2008, to the Republican sweep of Congress just two years later, to the Republicans’ unexpected post-election preoccupation with gays, sex, birth control, and abortion?

From the Age of Nixon to the Age of Obama, one of the prime forces fueling America’s political wars has been the reaction against the sexual revolution and the progressive movements which emerged from it, most notably feminism and gay rights. In Delirium, Nancy Cohen charts the birth of the sexual counterrevolution: how conflicts about sex, women’s rights and women’s roles, gay civil rights, and family values drove Americans into irreconcilable camps, polarized national politics, split and remade our political parties, and unhinged the nation. It explores a determining facet of our political debate and will become required reading as we enter the 2012 presidential election season.

NANCY L. COHEN is a historian and author of four books, including the widely acclaimed Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America and The Reconstruction of American Liberalism. Her writing on American politics has appeared in the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, and other publications. She has taught politics and history at Occidental College, UCLA, and Cal State Long Beach. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. For more information, visit


“An insightful look at the history of sexual mores and politics and how we got to such a contentious place.” —Booklist

“In her critique of bipartisan extremism, historian Cohen expertly details its rise within the Democratic and Republican parties by mining seven presidential elections… Cohen uses quantitative evidence to claim, quite cogently, that the sexual counterrevolution has overplayed its hand and that “cultural progressivism is the new American way,” making this book an impressive contribution to the political dialogue.” —Publishers Weekly

“Nancy L. Cohen narrates the history and continued salience of the sexual backlash with the wisdom of a fine historian and the passion of a liberal activist. Delirium is an indispensable source for understanding how profoundly the politics of the body has swayed the body politic.” —Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

“With abortion rights, birth control, and gay marriage still roiling American politics, it is obvious that the conservative reaction against the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s remains a powerful force in our world today. Nancy L. Cohen, a lively writer and excellent historian, places our current situation in historical perspective, tracing how over the past forty years the sexual counterrevolution has helped shape the political landscape. A fascinating and disturbing book.” —Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom

“Nancy L. Cohen’s Delirium is a provocative and original examination of the politics of equality—those who believe in our basic rights, and those who do not. She deftly takes us through forty years of history to explain why our country feels so divided, and, more importantly, how we can find our way back to rational political discourse. Anyone who cares about civil rights and the future of the country needs to read this book.” —Lisa Bloom, legal analyst and New York Times bestselling author of Think

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