Item description for Without Sin: The Life and Death of the Oneida Community by Spencer Klaw...
Overview Working with the unpublished letters and diaries of Oneida's own members, Klaw has produced a fascinating study of religion, morals, and utopian idealism--"a sympathetic but shrewd account of one of America's most successful--and most sexually obsessed--religious cults" (Geoffrey C. Ward, co-author of The Civil War). 8 pages of photos.
Publishers Description Without Sin chronicles the rise and fall of nineteenth-century America's most succesful experiment in Utopian living: New York's Oneida Community (1848-1880). Founded by the charismatic Christian Perfectioniost John Humphrey Noyes, this remarkable society flourished for more than thirty years as a unique world where property was shared, men and women were equals, sex was free and open, work was to be joyous, and pleasure was felt to be "the very business that God set Adam and Eve about."
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Studio: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 1994
Publisher Penguin (Non-Classics)
ISBN 0140239308 ISBN13 9780140239300 UPC 051488018001
Availability 0 units.
More About Spencer Klaw
Spencer Klaw has written for Esquire, Harper's, American Heritage, and The New York Times Magazine, among other magazines and journals. He is the author of The New Brahmins: Scientific Life in America and The Great American Medicine Show. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Barbara.
Reviews - What do customers think about Without Sin: The Life and Death of the Oneida Community?
Fascinating place--and book May 13, 2007
First of all, "K", whose review also appears here, misspells the author's name--it is "Klaw". The author, who died recently at 84, was a life-long journalist and historian of journalism with a distinguished career at Columbia U and UCBerkeley. Unlike "K", I was not required to read this book, but sought it out after a serendipitous visit to the historic Mansion House of the Oneida sect in the central NY town of that name--where the action was set. This book is a well researched and well documented account of the rise and fall of founder John Noyes's Utopian world-view and of the hundreds of Americans connected to it and to him. This experiment in Utopian living was the foundation of the Oneida Community silver flatware company, among other interesting connections. Klaw's annotated bibliography is extensive, giving one everything one might want to know for further reading and exploration. As "K" reported, the book is an absolute page-turner! The Oneidans had a lot of good ideas, along with some truly bizarre ones. Read the book and then visit the historic site, which is open to the public and also rents rooms for overnight stays, in the town of Kenwood, near Oneida NY.
A little dry in the beginning, but very interesting! Jun 20, 2000
OK, I admit that I was requred to read this book for my American History class...but once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down! Claw uses lots of primary sources and gives a very sympathetic depiction of the rise and fall of the Oneida colony. Claw has depicted Noyes as a man with a very strong sexual magnetism - but flip to the middle section and check out a picture of this guy. Yuck!
I found the first third of the book pretty boring - the descriptions of John Noyes' childhood and early adulthood are particularly bland. Keep reading though, because the last 2/3rds of the book are mindblowing. Who knew that feminism and Christianity could co-exist? I really enjoyed the books' description of everyday life at Oneida, and the sexual politics that made the community so unique. This is not exactly a summer beach read, but it is definately a thought provoking analysis of one of America's more interesting religious "cults".