This book has been on my to-read list for years as it's one of the classics in S/M history and culture. Geoff Mains clearly loves the gay Leather community, which makes this book extra beautiful.
His idealistic perspectives show up in his description of what is expected of members of the Leather community: "Neither arrogance nor braggadocio is tolerated in the leather community. To many, the pushy man in leather is merely a drag queen in another disguise. Loudness is an unacceptable substitute for patient self-assurance; it and frenetic exhibitionism are signs of unrecognized insecurity. Genuine emotion and warmth are understood and appreciated, emotional lack of restraint is not."
Isn't that an amazing description (aside from the snarky bit about drag queens)? The emphasis on building community is very strong, as is the focus on service and fundraising both within and outside of the community. I feel that we lose sight of this ideal at times and this was a good reminder of how much good the Leather community can do in the world.
After the first section, the book gets a bit more dense. The author has done a lot of research on pain theory and dives into it at unexpected times. A lot of the theory he references has fallen out of favor with the medical community at this point, but it's still a fascinating read - IF you enjoy science writing! For anyone who is not science-minded, this would get pretty ponderous. The rest of the book is quite scattered, with topics such as bondage, fisting, and piss play intermingling with physiology and philosophy. If you can follow it, there's a lot of good and interesting information in here.
There is a great discussion towards the end about the development of the lesbian Leather community, specifically SAMOIS (founded in 1978), and how the gay men were slowly adjusting to coexisting with them. The author also contrasts the dynamics within the lesbian and gay communities with those of the straight S/M community at the time.
If you want a peek into the history of of the gay Leather community, this is definitely a book to add to your collection. Be prepared to skim some of the slower, heavier sections if you don't get off on physiology though!