The Birth of the Pill
How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution
W. W. Norton 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books Network July 3, 2015 Lilian Calles-Barger
Jonathan Eig is a New York Times best-selling author of four books and former journalist for the Wall Street Journal. His book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2014) gives us a lively narrative history of the development and marketing of the birth control pill. He presents us with four risk-taking outsiders whose path became intertwined in the pursuit of a reliable and simple contraceptive. The feminist Margaret Sanger, in her campaign for the rights of women, sought a reliable birth control method as a means to sexual and social liberation. The genius scientist Gregory Pincus’s research stretched the boundaries of law and ethics and tied him to the business interest of Searle pharmaceuticals. The wealthy socialite Katharine McCormick’s singular focus and funding kept the research going. The handsome promoter John Rock, a Catholic infertility doctor, was willing to go against his church’s teaching and provide untested drugs to desperate patients. The story begins in the radical and sexually freewheeling Greenwich Village of the early twentieth century. Eig follows Sanger’s crusade for birth control information, cultural change, scientific victories and defeats, and the marketing of what became the first FDA-approved contraceptive pill in 1960. This is a well-researched and riveting story of four exceptional people and a revolution in the intimate lives of women and men. The birth control pill forever changed how we think about marriage, sexuality, and parenting.