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Everybody: A Book about Freedom

by Olivia Laing

"Astute and consistently surprising critic" (NPR) Olivia Laing investigates the body and its discontents through the great freedom movements of the twentieth century.

The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. In her ambitious, brilliant sixth book, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement.

Drawing on her own experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and traveling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, Laing grapples with some of the most significant and complicated figures of the past century―among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag, and Malcolm X.

Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as technologized and automated as our own. Arriving at a moment in which basic bodily rights are once again imperiled, Everybodyis an investigation into the forces arranged against freedom and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world.

in Our Country, Our Culture
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Published August 2022

W. W. Norton & Company

Paperback, 384 pages

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"A quintessential book for the precarious moment we’ve found ourselves in... [M]ultilayered and masterfully structured... Everybody should be required reading for anyone who cares about not just where we are now, but the future."
― Michele Filgate, Washington Post