Whether enemy or ally, demon or god, the source of satisfaction or the root of all earthly troubles, the penis has forced humanity to wrestle with its enduring mysteries. Here, in an enlightening and entertaining cultural study, is a book that puts into context the central role of the penis within Western civilization. David M. Friedman shows that the penis is more than a body part. It is an idea, a conceptual but flesh-and-blood measuring stick of a man's place in the world. Deified by the pagan cultures of the ancient world and demonized by the early Roman church, the penis was later secularized by pioneering anatomists such as Leonardo da Vinci. After being measured 'scientifically' in an effort to subjugate some races while elevating others, the organ was psychoanalysed by Sigmund Freud. Now, after being politicized by feminism and exploited in countless ways by pop culture, the penis has been medicalized. As no one has before him, Friedman shows how the arrival of erection industry products such as Viagra is more than a health or business story.
It is the latest - and perhaps final - chapter in one of the longest sagas in human history: the story of man's relationship with his penis.
David M. Friedman has written for Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, Vogue, The Village Voice, and many other publications and was a reporter for Newsday. He lives in New York City.