In this book the author presents a history of heterosexuality, explores the contemporary psyche of sexual orientation, and shows how culture creates and manipulates thoughts and experiences of desire, love, and relationships. Like the typewriter and the light bulb, the heterosexual was invented in the 1860s and swiftly and permanently transformed Western culture. The idea of "the heterosexual" was unprecedented. After all, men and women had been having sex, marrying, building families, and sometimes even falling in love for millennia without having any special name for their emotions or acts. Yet, within half a century, "heterosexual" had become a byword for "normal," enshrined in law, medicine, psychiatry, and the media as a new gold standard for human experience. In this chronicle, the author, a historian digs deep into the past of sexual orientation, while simultaneously exploring its contemporary psyche. Illuminating the hidden patterns in centuries of events and trends, this work shows how culture creates and manipulates the ways we think about and experience desire, love, and relationships between men and women. Ranging from Henry VIII to testicle transplants, from Disneyland to sodomy laws, and from Moby Dick to artificial insemination, the history of heterosexuality turns out to be anything but straight or narrow. This work tells the story of a complex and often contradictory man-made creation that is all too often assumed to be an irreducible fact of biology.