Adventures in the Orgasmatron
How the Sexual Revolution Came to America
By Christopher Turner
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374100940, 544pp.)
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
List Price: $35.00*
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One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011
Well before the 1960s, a sexual revolution was under way in America, led by expatriated European thinkers who saw a vast country ripe for liberation. In Adventures in the Orgasmatron, Christopher Turner tells the revolution’s story—an illuminating, thrilling, often bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression.
Central to the narrative is the orgone box—a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool. A person who sat in the box, it was thought, could elevate his or her “orgastic potential.” The box was the invention of Wilhelm Reich, an outrider psychoanalyst who faced a federal ban on the orgone box, an FBI investigation, a fraught encounter with Einstein, and bouts of paranoia.
In Turner’s vivid account, Reich’s efforts anticipated those of Alfred Kinsey, Herbert Marcuse, and other prominent thinkers—efforts that brought about a transformation of Western views of sexuality in ways even the thinkers themselves could not have imagined.
Christopher Turner lives in London and writes for The Guardian and other publications.