When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to see if Nevadaâ€s brothels offered a less harmful model for a business that will always be with us. The Mustang Ranch has never before given an outsider such access, but fear of AIDS was hurting the business, and the Ranch was eager to get publicity for its rigorous standards of sexual hygiene. Albert was drawn into the lives of the women of the Mustang Ranch, and what began as a public-health project evolved into something more intimate and ambitious, a six-year study of the brothel ecosystem, its lessons and significance.
The women of the Mustang Ranch poured their stories out to Albert: how they came to be there, their surprisingly deep sense of craft and vocation, how they reconciled their profession with life on the outside. Dr. Albert went as far into this world as it is possible to go â€” some will say too far â€” including sitting in on sessions with customers, and the result is a book that puts an unforgettable face on Americaâ€s maligned and caricatured subculture.
From the Hardcover edition.
June 25, 2002
Average Customer Rating:
based on 106 reviews
Average Customer Review:
( 106 customer reviews )
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 36 found the following review helpful:
A very informative account of an under reported topicOct 17, 2001
By Brian D. Rubendall Unlike illegal drugs, prostitution has received very little in the way of serious study. That's what makes Alexa Albert's book, "Brothel" so valuable. Despite her queasiness with the subject matter, Albert has managed to write a well balanced book that frankly portrays the pros and cons of legalized prostitution. There are a lot of surprises in the book, not the least of which is that nuances of the personalities of the working girls themselves. They do not all come from poor backgrounds, nor are they all victims of prior sexual abuse. They do not all have drug problems, nor are they all subservient to men. In short, their backgrounds are as varied as their stories. Having said that, Albert's book is not for everyone. It is at times very sexually frank and contains some scenes that are not for the squeamish. I also found the passages where Albert worries about what her family will think of her research to be distracting and not relevant. It is enough for Albert to say that her feelings about what she witnesses are conflicted. This is a difficult subject, and this book should be read by both those who believe (as I do) that prostitution ought to be legalized on a wider basis and by those who would seek to try and eradicate it. Whatever your position, this book is guaranteed to surprise you.
15 of 15 found the following review helpful:
inside guide to legalized prostitutionNov 24, 2005
By B. Emory Albert was given special permission to investigate the link between condom use and # of STDs among the professional women of the Mustang Ranch brothel for a graduate assignment. Albert not only presents this information, but also the reasons these women chose this career, the background of the famed Mustang Ranch in NV (and other brothels in NV), and a look at the day to day lives of these girls. Albert has a lot of respect for these women and staff so this book is no means insulting nor overtly filled with details of victimization or sexual misconduct (rape or abuse). Albert does a good job at showing the perks and the downfalls of being a prostitute and detailing the history of the institution.
23 of 27 found the following review helpful:
Couldn't put it downMay 20, 2001
What an interesting and intriguing book. Perfectly told with great insight, clarity and reflection. I'd love to read more about what happened with some of the women and am ever more curious about the impact of legalizing the illicit. It clearly raises the question in my mind of what would be the benefits of legalizing prostitution in other states. And what of legal prostitution in other countries? Is the success the same or the parameters different? A great read - already recommended to many.
19 of 22 found the following review helpful:
thoughtful and sensitive studyJan 10, 2002
By Shannon B Davis
This is an excellent book in a documentary style about the Mustang Ranch in Nevada and legal prostitution. While most of the book covers the sex workers, there is also a chapter on their customer's perspectives. It offers a very interesting view into legal prostitution. It also talks about whether sex is a right, and sex as therapy. I think it fairly portrays both the good and the bad sides of this profession. This book argues for legal prostitution, and I think that most objective people will be convinced by the ample evidence that is offered. At the same time, legality doesn't make it any more fun, nor does it remove the social stigma of prostitution. The topic is fascinating, but so is the writing. I finished this book in a single evening, reading it from cover to cover.
9 of 9 found the following review helpful:
A glimse into the tabo world of prostitutionJul 02, 2001
I have been aware of the Mustang Ranch since I was a small child. It had an unknown mystical veil hanging over it which, of course, only made me more curious. However being a woman I knew the only way I could ever find out more about it was to go in as a working girl. That was out of the question so I retired any querrys into that relm. When I heard about "Brothel" I literally raced to the book store to buy it. I read it in one day and found it not only interesting but captivating. Mrs. Albert was a little bias in the begining but succuming to her curiousity her feelings changed and her mind opened. She tried to be nonjugmental but once imursed into the world found she no longer had to try. Her willingness to explore human kinds oldest profession, while experiencing and over coming her own stigmas, while still being able to give an honest and accurate portrail of the life these women lead is amazing and refreshing. By far the best real life book I have ever read.
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