The Birth of the Pill

How Four Pioneers Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution

3.96 based on 570 ratings & 70 reviews on

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.
Riveting ... written with pace and clarity, The Birth of the Pill is a vivid portrait of four brilliant and courageous misfits.
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

About Jonathan Eig

Jonathan Eig, a former senior special reporter at the Wall Street Journal, is the author of several 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, won the Casey Award for best baseball book of 2005; his second book, Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season, 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 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,' a 'gore-spattered thriller,' and 'as much a dark history of urban America between the world wars as it is another mobster's life story.' And in The Birth of the Pill, Eig again tackles an enormous volume of unexamined personal correspondence in an original and richly-textured narrative.

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