Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 400

Source: Own (Book Outlet)

Genres: Nonfiction

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Publication date: October 13th, 2014

Read on: August 16th to 23rd

Thoughts: When I first heard about this book I was more than interested. I had used the pill before, but more importantly, I'm always interested in scientific breakthroughs and how they came to be (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) or just the history of a big scientific topic (The Emperor of all Maladies), so learning about how the Pill was discovered and how it came to be one of the most popular contraceptives to date was certainly down my alley.

The book focuses on the roles of Margaret Sanger, Katharine McCormick, Gregory Pincus and John Rock in the pursue, formulation and finally establishment of The Pill. A very well researched book, with all the notes anyone could ask for and as many details as one could imagine for the development of the pill as well as for the personal lives of the people involved. As a woman, even though I knew it would be approved at the end, it was quite a ride to see how hard it was for this 4 people to make the Pill what it is today: effective, approved and widely available to the masses.

Unlike what I experienced with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, where the author pushed the sentimental angle a little bit too much for my licking, Eig stuck to the point...most of the time. The Emperor of all Maladies was a dense book, but even though it alternated with specific cases of patients and then the history of cancer itself, it never felt to me that pieces of information were superfluous. Unfortunately, there were several points in Eig's book where I did get such feeling, mostly when referring to personal parts of the people involved. It's not that I didn't care for this side of the story; it's just that sometimes a line would be dropped about their characters and it wouldn't give anything to the paragraph or the chapter even.

That said, I think Eig did a wonderful job with it's narrative. Some people might think that establishing the flow in a nonfiction piece it's easier, since the time path is already there, but this is so not true. Knowing how to thread the events and the people in a consistent and fluid manner is not easy, and Eig did it skillfully.

It is a very nice micro-history about not just the pill, but the lives of people who have influenced many. 

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