I was flattered. The N.Y. Times said my book "specializes in the raunchy and perverse". The Journal of the American Medical Association said it wasn't fit for waiting rooms. To top it off, I got to describe an eggplant penis enlarger on national television. (Well, CNBC anyhow.)

Newsweek, May 23, 1994.

"Ages of Consent: The Story of Sex
History: The Good Parts"

"No, son, Madonna didn't invent sex. But you wouldn't know that, thanks to the prudish historians who've left all the juicy stuff out of modern textbooks. Here's a little something to help set the record straight. In "HISTORY LAID BARE" (463 pages, HarperCollins, $11) Richard Zacks (not a pun) exposes "love, sex and perversity from the ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding." Excerpted sources range from a Hittite law tablet (1400 B.C.) that proscribes bestiality--except with horses or mules--to a series of a letters in which author Lewis Carroll unsuccessfully attempts to wheedle permission to photgraph an acquaintance s three young daughters in the nude. Tasty anecdotes abound.

When the British first pulled into Tahiti in 1767, sailors found that local women would make themselves available in return for hardware--an arrangement that eventually stripped the ship of cleats and left two thirds of the crew sleeping on deck "for want of nails to hang their hammocks," the ship's master wrote. There's plenty more the teacher skipped, including a bit of performance art costarring Byzantine Empress Theodora and a live goose; Jean-Jacques Rousseau's avowed predilection for spankings; a coital competition sponsored by by Pope Alexander VI; eyewitness descriptions of the Devil's phallus ("as long as some kitchen utensils"), and a dirty joke scribbled in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook. Here's hoping that historians will start putting a little more lead in their pencils."


People magazine, Feb. 21, 1994

A cross between a history book and the Mesopotamian Enquirer, this amusing compilation is subtitled "Love, Sex, and Perversity from the Ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding." It touches on such topics as Joan of Arc's virginity tests, Puritan bestiality and Ben Franklin's delight in older women, as well as such miscellaneous perversions as Nero's sadism, King James's homosexuality and New York colonial governor Lord Cornbury's cross-dressing. An ideal book for browsing, "History Laid Bare" suggsts an idle game: supposing which ancient pervert would go on which daytime talk show. Lord Cornbury, of course, goes to Donahue. (HarperCollins).


U.S. News & World Report, June 20, 1994

"Had Geraldo gotten an earlier start there would be no need for Richard Zacks's "History Laid Bare: Love Sex and Perversity from the Ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding" (HarperCollins). Instead, Zacks, a classicist and syndicated columnist has dissolved the copious amounts of white-out historians have slopped over the sordid details of the past.


Journal of the American Medical Association

"Brief case histories of strange genital injuries that required medical care are scattered among ribald verses, royalty in a brothel and deceptive seductions. Always described is the exaggerated monster-sized penis. No wonder so many still worry about penile size today."

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