The Birth of the Pill

The Birth of the Pill

How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched A Revolution

Book - 2014
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Immersed in radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes, this is the fascinating story of one of the most important scientific discoveries of the twentieth century.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2014]
ISBN: 9780393073720
Branch Call Number: 363.96 EIG
Characteristics: x, 388 pages ; 25 cm


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Mar 13, 2017

Very insightful and informative was moving and really helps me have a deeper appreciation for The Pill. Must read for women's history insight.

ernstblofeld Jun 17, 2015

While this book is interesting and informative, it's very, very poorly written, to the point of distraction.

For the most part it reads like a bright 9th grader trying to have "style" and be “pithy.”

There are a number of basic factual inaccuracies (e.g. the U.S. had no jet fighters in WWII), confused and contradictory paragraphs and general laziness (e.g. referring to the Soviet Union as “Russia”; boiler-plate passages about life and the role of women in post-war and 1950s America better belonging in Time magazine or the like).

OK, this guy isn’t an academic but even the occasional attempts to put x, y and z into a larger context are weak.

This book sure made me curious about Margaret Sanger though.

Apr 29, 2015

Superb book tells how 4 visionary humanitarians worked together to bring about one of the greatest advances in human history- the birth control pill.

MaxineML Nov 13, 2014

This may be one of the (if not the) best micro-history non-fiction books I've ever read. This was fantastic.

A well-written page turner, with just enough heart and historical context to make it a truly understandable read. I'm not sure I can recommend this enough.

Eig focuses on 4 of the main actors in the search for the creation of a science-based, pill form of birth control. There is Margaret Sanger, the aging founder of Planned Parenthood; Katherine McCormick, one of the first women to graduate from MIT and the sole receiver of her husband's fortune; Dr. John Rock, a Catholic ob-gyn who also thought that birth control was not against church teachings, and also happened to be considered one of the best doctors in America; and Dr. Gregory Pincus, a Jewish scientist who was kicked out of Harvard for his experiments with in-vitro fertilization.

Eig brings all of these characters to life, along with snapshots of life in the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's - adding just enough historical context so you understand the struggles these folks encountered, without adding in any snide remarks about how thinking has changed from then to today.

Pincus began work on the pill in the 1950's. And the experiments he did to prove the efficacy of the pill, by simply giving it to women (without telling them what it would do, or what the side effects may be) would never pass any ethics committees today, but back then it was ok to randomly give asylum patients drugs that you had no idea of the effects of.

Still, it was really the four people that Eig focuses on that made this happen - without Pincus' scientific drive, without McCormick's money, without Rock's demeanour to prove the pill was safe, and without Sanger fighting for women's rights in the 1920's and beyond this never would have happened.

A truly fantastic and riveting read!


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