Ben-Atar and Brown’s Taming Lust is a comparative study of two bestiality cases from the late 1790s. The authors’ detailed investigation discovers that the convictions of eighty-five-year-old John Farrell in Northampton, Mass., in 1796, and eighty-three-year-old Gideon Washburn in Litchfield, Conn. in 1799, were deeply anomalous; Farrell and Washburn were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for a crime that had not been punished by death in either Massachusetts or Connecticut for more than a century. During an era in which capital punishment was broadly on the wane and sodomy (the legal category into which bestiality was frequently subsumed) no longer carried the death penalty, what can explain the plight of these two elderly men who were successfully tried and convicted for a “victimless” crime that was almost exclusively associated with young men? Ben-Atar and Brown situate these exceptional trials and convictions within a changing political and religious climate, thus...
Taming Lust: Crimes against Nature in the Early Republic. By Doron S. Ben-Atar and Richard D. Brown (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) 209 pp. $84.95 cloth $24.95 paper
Greta LaFleur; Taming Lust: Crimes against Nature in the Early Republic. By Doron S. Ben-Atar and Richard D. Brown (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) 209 pp. $84.95 cloth $24.95 paper. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2015; 46 (3): 459–460. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/JINH_r_00885
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