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Summary

When is seduction about more than just sex? In this brilliantly original history, Clement Knox explores these questions as well as the philosophy, legality, politics, art and literature of a force that underwrites our world.

In the first history of its kind, Clement Knox reassesses our ideas of seduction from the Garden of Eden to the world of #MeToo. This is a grand narrative that encompasses Casanova’s pursuit of pleasure, the fight for women’s rights waged by early feminists Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Caroline Norton, the travails of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, hounded for his violation of America’s labyrinthine, racialised seduction laws, and the strange world of vampires, hypnotists and monsters conjured up by Nazis and xenophobes seeking to stoke social and sexual panic. Seduction is a problem that refuses to go away. Seemingly laid to rest during the sexual revolution, as men and women across the world shrugged off the taboos and strictures of the past, it has exploded back into public consciousness as we grapple with a world populated by pick-up artists, incels and online dating algorithms.

Modern, big-thinking and enormously entertaining, Knox offers an extraordinary range of stories, and shows how our ideas about desire, courtship, and power have always developed in step with a changing world.

©2020 Clement Knox (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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Long winded and unfocused

I was really looking forward to reading this but quickly it's academic tone and rambling story telling paled. I persevered but now i've finished I rather wish I hadn't.

The early chapters go into tedious detail on the lives of Casanova, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. Much on their life and actions and little reflection on what that means for the theme of the book.

Jazz, flappers and the sexual revolution of the 1960s, incels, pickup artists and #metoo are all dealt with perfunctorily in the last chapter. There might be a good book in here if it had been pruned hard, as it is, it feels like a first pass at a phd dissertation before their tutor suggested many rewrites.

The narration is generally good and professional. though many mispronounced words, which would have been nothing much if the general text had been less rambling.

So overall, not what I'd hoped and I'm considering getting a refund.