The Humble Little Condom: A History

Overview

One of the most basic—and ancient—forms of birth control is the condom. Utilized by all cultures for millennia, and referred to by many colorful euphemisms, it has featured in the lives, loves, and letters of some of the most famous men in history. Shakespeare, Casanova, George Bernard Shaw, to mention only a few, all appreciated and wrote about the importance of using "preventatives." Aine Collier provides a unique glimpse into human sexual habits, customs, beliefs, and attitudes in this first history of the ...
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Overview

One of the most basic—and ancient—forms of birth control is the condom. Utilized by all cultures for millennia, and referred to by many colorful euphemisms, it has featured in the lives, loves, and letters of some of the most famous men in history. Shakespeare, Casanova, George Bernard Shaw, to mention only a few, all appreciated and wrote about the importance of using "preventatives." Aine Collier provides a unique glimpse into human sexual habits, customs, beliefs, and attitudes in this first history of the prophylactic device that goes back to at least the ancient Egyptians. As she amply demonstrates, the story of this humble piece of paraphernalia is full of intriguing insights into human character with all its flaws and foibles as well as many fascinating historical details:

• Clergymen of the Middle Ages left records of birth control methods that "worked."
• Columbus’s men returned from the New World infected with the "Great Pox" (syphilis) leading to the rediscovery of the condom as a disease preventative.
• Sixteenth-century Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio (discoverer of the Fallopian tube) should be considered the father of the modern condom; he was the first to add a pink ribbon to his sheaths, a flourish that remained standard for centuries.
• When women had few choices in the world of commerce, a significant number found a legitimate and profitable business niche producing and selling sheaths.
• During the Great Depression, while other businesses went bankrupt, condom manufacturers found themselves doing a booming trade throughout the 1930s, one of Wall Street’s few successes. Sadly, it was cheaper to pay 25 cents for a rubber than to have children.
• German gummis were acknowledged to be the finest in the world, until the Nazis made them illegal, fearing Jewish doctors had coerced innocent Germans into using them as birth control.
• AIDS has brought the condom full circle. Not for the first time in history has the little device been vilified as a promoter of dirty, illicit sex and lauded as a life-saving device.

Thoroughly researched yet presented in a witty, enjoyable style, The Humble Little Condom is both an entertaining read and an educational, impeccably researched popular history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book has it all—sex, money, infidelity, war, poetry, the famous and the infamous, politics, hypocrisy. What a read! … Although there are plenty of laughs, this is a serious history, and one that was hard to put down. I had no idea the condom had such a long and complex story."
—Frederick Gottlieb, MD, MPH, C. Everett Koop Public Health Physician Award recipient

"Illuminating... This fascinating book is as much a history of attitudes and morality as it is about the humble condom. Thoroughly researched yet never dry..." —Monsters and Critics.com

"A wonderful, compact tome, chock-full of posters, packages, and poems on the centuries-old device used by millions… Everything you ever wanted to know about the condom, and quite a few things you probably haven't thought of. Funny, ribald, uninhibited, and well researched. I recommend it."
—Phil Harvey, president, DKT International, author of The Government vs. Erotica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591025566
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,384,893
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Aine Collier, EdD, is an assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland University College. She holds degrees in European history, international business, and English education. She has been a historian for the Hughes Flying Boat Museum and a 1932 Olympics archival project, as well as an oral historian for a series of interviews with famous figures from the peace movements of the 1930s and 1960s.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    Curiously Refeshing Reading

    Aine Colliers new book is an entertaining,interesting,enlightening and uncensored look at a little known aspect of human history.The book is impeccably researched and skillfully written with a healthy dose of elan.It is a delight to read.

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