ERIC BERKOWITZ is a writer, lawyer and journalist. He has a degree in print journalism from University of Southern California and has published in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Weekly, and for the Associated Press. He was an editor of the West Coast’s premier daily legal publication, the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He lives in San Francisco.
“[An] extraordinary book… I don’t think I’ve ever read such an entertaining historical work. It has the wisdom granted by perspective, without the condescension of someone who thinks we’re wiser than our ancestors. Whether you want to fuel your indignation, or simply furnish yourself with enough jaw-dropping data to galvanize a hundred party conversations, you really must shell out for this book. It’s worth every penny.” —The Guardian
“Sex and Punishment is an illuminating and deftly told account of the two urges that have done so much to define civilization: humanity’s appetite for sex and its concern to regulate the consequences. As Eric Berkowitz shows, both impulses have been in flux for centuries, and his colorful history serves as a timely reminder of just how arbitrary—and ludicrous—the moral certainties of one era can appear to the next.” —Sadakat Kadri, author of The Trial: A History, from Socrates to O. J. Simpson
“Very interesting, very enlightening, very well written, and very timely; Sex and Punishment performs an important service in narrating the pre-twentieth-century history of sexual mores and regulation to a nonspecialist audience.” —Richard Posner, author of Reflections on Judging
“Berkowitz describes the real stories of medieval cross-dressers, London’s rent boys, gay charioteers, and a whole lot of people who were judged for their forbidden sex. The book makes for an excellent, fascinating, and provocative read about carnal desire and what lengths humankind will go to fulfill and control it.” —The Advocate
“It’s rare that a book so well researched and provocative is also so downright entertaining. Sex and Punishment will have you gripped and fascinated (and sometimes laughing out loud) at how legal systems over the millennia have attempted to regulate mankind’s unruly carnal desires. The chapter on ancient Mesopotamia alone is worth the price of the book.” —Tony Perrottet, author of Napoleon’s Privates and The Sinner’s Grand Tour
“In Sex and Punishment, Eric Berkowitz leads us through the inventive and ultimately futile ways that mankind has tried to tame its most troublesome pleasure. His compehensive tour is sometimes funny, more often scary but always entertaining.” —A. J. Langguth, author of Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution
“There may be no question more vexing than ‘What is normal human behavior?’ and no facet of ‘normality’ more arbitrarily defined—and viciously policed—than sexual morality. Eric Berkowitz has done an excellent job of showing just how far from certain any of us should be that we really know what is ‘normal’ or ‘ethical’ when it comes to human sexuality. Sex and Punishment is built on solid scholarship and spiced with plenty of sordid details that will make you the hit of any cocktail party.” —Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality