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From medieval talking penises and naughty priests to sexuality as transcendence in the Kama Sutra, the History Channel's five-part History of Sex debunks the myth of history's innocence. In Ancient Civilizations, Mesopotamian men considered women property and believed that divine masturbation created Egypt, that there were no virgins, and that some mummies had erect phalluses. In classical Greece, husbands had their pick of sexual partners and proper wives went dildo shopping. The Eastern World considers the spirituality and teaching of sex, including Chinese pillow books. The Middle Ages examines both denigration of the body and lusty, bawdy frivolity as well as the fashionable art of codpiece stuffing. The political extremes of repression and excess continue in From Don Juan to Queen Victoria with the pilgrims, the Marquis de Sade, frigid Victorian wives, and the golden age of prostitution and pornography. Finally, the 20th Century discusses the impact of motion pictures, automobiles, Stonewall, the pill, AIDS, and the Internet on sex. The series relies on upper-class men's historical records and therefore underrepresents women and homosexuals. However, the commentary from a diverse and insightful panel of academics and the rich selection of historic images make this a tasteful, informative history of sex. --Tara Chace
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