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 Dec 16 - 22, 2004 

Feature

The Story of O

How could something that most of us only experience for 12 minutes a year be the driving force of humanity? A new book explores the rich, strange history of the orgasm.

By Priya Jain

"Aside from the need to breathe and eat," writes Jonathan Margolis, "the pursuit of orgasm has been one of the strongest single determinants of human behavior throughout history." It is hard to disagree with him, especially once you've come to the end of his new book, O: An Intimate History of the Orgasm. Documenting attitudes toward sex from the cavemen to modern times, Margolis shows how human culture has been driven by the pursuit of that most elusive, fleeting and inconsistent pleasure. For despite our obsession, he writes, "most individuals will experience a mere twenty seconds of orgasm a week, a minute or so a month, or a total of twelve ecstatic minutes a year."

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