The Birth of the Pill
In the winter of 1950, Margaret Sanger, then seventy-one, and who had campaigned for women’s right to control their own fertility for five decades, arrived at a Park Avenue apartment building. She had come to meet a visionary scientist with a dubious reputation more than twenty years her junior. His name was Gregory Pincus.
In The Birth of the Pill, Jonathan Eig tells the extraordinary story of how, prompted by Sanger, and then funded by the wealthy widow and philanthropist Katharine McCormick, Pincus invented a drug that would stop women ovulating. With the support of John Rock, a charismatic and, crucially, Catholic doctor from Boston, who battled his own church in the effort to win public approval for the controversial new drug, he succeeded. Together, these four determined men and women changed the world.Spanning the years from Sanger’s heady Greenwich Village days in the early twentieth century to trial tests in Puerto Rico in the 1950s to the cusp of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, this is a grand story of radical feminism, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes. Brilliantly researched and vividly written, The Birth of the Pillis a gripping account of a remarkable cultural, social and scientific journey
Brilliant ... reads like a thriller ... For all the criticisms levelled at it in later years, the Pill's philosophical impact has been as significant as its physical effect. Its advocates deserve this vivid and life-affirming history. -- Joan Smith * Observer * Riveting ... written with pace and clarity, The Birth of the Pill is a vivid portrait of four brilliant and courageous misfits. -- Frances Wilson * Daily Telegraph * Rousing and involving ... a reminder of just how hard-fought, cobbled-together and compromise-ridden are the histories of some of the social structures we take for granted. * Independent on Sunday * Jonathan Eig's vivid book is a rebuke to all those who lambast the Pill for unleashing promiscuity, family break-up and other Sixties sexual revolutionary sins: he reminds us that for women the pre-contraceptive world was vicious, poor and hard. -- Janice Turner * The Times * The American journalist Jonathan Eig is neither a woman nor, indeed an expert of women's reproductive health (his previous bestsellers, as he points out, were about 'ballplayers and gangsters'). Rather gamely, considering the sensitivities and politics involved, he's chosen to write a history of the development of the birth control pill - and he carries it off with wit, verve and scholarly research. -- Isobel Lerwick * Financial Times *
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