Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Writer: Vern L. Bullough
Title: The History of Prostitution
Language: English
Place of Publication: New Hyde Park, New York
Publisher: University Books
Year of Publication: 1964
Format: 156x238mm
Pages:ix+304;Notes, 263; Appendix I, 287; Appendix II, 293; Index, 297
Illustrations: 2 single colour (dust jacket)
Binding: Purple cloth in duotone dust jacket
Weight: 744gr.
Original Price: USD 7.50
Entry No.: 2011014
Entry Date: 12th July 2011

Prostitution, like the weather, has often been talked about, but very rarely has any scholar bothered to do any research on the topic. Few serious studies on prostitution have been undertaken by social scientists over the past fifty years. Although an occasional sociologist, psychiatrist, or anthropologist has concerned himself, the historian has totally neglected the subject. As a result this book is the first attempt at a serious history of prostitution in English in this century. Despite a lack of historical monographs, there is both a demand and a need for studies on the topic. This is evidenced by the fact that bookstores still sell and libraries still stock the work of the American, W.W. Sanger, who wrote before the Civil War. Despite its inadequacies the Sanger work has been almost continuously reprinted, without any revision, since it first appeared. Yet Sanger made no real effort to be objective but instead made a plea for the legalization of prostitution.

Dr. Bullough  starts with an all-encompassing definition of prostitution, includes a short discussion on primate behavior, and then carries the story from primitive societies to contemporary times. In each chapter he examines the general attitude of the period toward women, the place of sex in society, and the extent and nature of prostitution. There is a long section on religion in which Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian and Taoist ideas on sex and prostitution are examined. From such an examination it becomes apparent that while some religions have condemned prostitution and others have condoned it, the prostitute has continued to exist. Perhaps somewhat surprising is the large number of religious writers who in the past have encouraged prostitution. In the concluding section the author discusses the various psychological and sociological explanations of prostitution, summarizes the appearance of the prostitute and prostitution in today’s world. From the last chapters it appears that it is not only historians who have neglected the study of prostitution, but other students of social sciences  as well. As a result the author argues that his study cannot be conceived of as a definitive monograph on prostitution, but rather as laying the foundation for future studies by other scholars. To assist such research the book is well footnoted and indexed, and includes two appendices, one a bibliographical guide to reference works in the field, and the second a list  of euphemisms for prostitute and prostitution which the author encountered in his studies.

The author, Dr. Vern L. Bullough, is a historian who has specialized in the history of medicine and of science. He has published numerous articles primarily on medical history, in various learned journals. He was assisted in his researches by his wife, Bonnie L. Bullough.

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