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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.
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The story of the extraordinary characters behind the invention of the contraceptive Pill

Table of Contents

Chapter - 1: A Winter NightChapter - 2: A Short History of SexChapter - 3: Spontaneous OvulationsChapter - 4: A Go-To-Hell LookChapter - 5: Lover and FighterChapter - 6: Rabbit TestsChapter - 7: 'I'm A Sexologist'Chapter - 8: The Socialite and the Sex ManiacChapter - 9: A Shotgun QuestionChapter - 10: Rock's ReboundChapter - 11: What Makes a Rooster Crow?Chapter - 12: A Test in DisguiseChapter - 12: Cabeza de NegroChapter - 14: The Road to ShrewsburyChapter - 15: 'Weary and Depressed'Chapter - 16: The Trouble with WomenChapter - 17: A San Juan WeekendChapter - 18: The Women of the AsylumChapter - 19: John Rock's Hard PlaceChapter - 20: As Easy as AspirinChapter - 21: A Deadline to MeetChapter - 22: 'The Miracle Tablet Maybe'Chapter - 23: Hope to the HopelessChapter - 24: TrialsChapter - 25: 'Papa Pincus's Pink Pills for Planned Parenthood'Chapter - 26: Jack Searle's Big BetChapter - 27: The Birth of the PillChapter - 28: 'Believed to Have Magical Powers'Chapter - 29: The Double EffectChapter - 30: La Senora de las PastillasChapter - 31: An Unlikely Pitch ManChapter - 32: 'A Whole New Bag of Beans'Chapter - 33: The ClimaxSection - i: EpilogueAcknowledgements - ii: AcknowledgementsSection - iii: NotesSection - iv: Selected BibliographyIndex - v: Index

About the Author

Jonathan Eig, a former senior special reporter at the Wall Street Journal, is the author of three highly acclaimed books, two of which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. His first book, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig (Simon & Schuster, 2005), won the Casey Award for best baseball book of 2005; his second book, Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season (Simon & Schuster, 2007), was named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, and the Washington Post. In his third book, Get Capone (Simon & Schuster, 2010), Eig discovered thousands of pages of new material on Capone, affirming his trustworthy reporting reputation in what the New York Times called a 'multifaceted portrait' and a 'gore-spattered thriller'.


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 * Written with pace and clarity, The Birth of the Pill is a vivid portrait of four brilliant and courageous misfits. -- Frances Wilson * Telegraph * 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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