This Man's Pill: Reflections on the 50th Birthday of the Pillby Carl Djerassi
October 15, 1951 marks the birthday of one of the key episodes in 20th century social history: the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive in a small laboratory in Mexico City -- an event that triggered the development of the Pill. Carl Djerassi has been honored world-wide for that accomplishment, which ultimately changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction in ways that were not foreseeable. On the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event, Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection and occasional humour on the impact this invention has had on the world at large and on him personally. He credits the Pill with radically altering his academic career at Stanford University to become one of the few American chemists writing novels and plays.
This Man's Pill presents a forcefully revisionist account of the early history of the Pill, debunking many of the journalistic and romantic accounts of its scientific origin. Djerassi does not shrink from exploring why we have no Pill for men or why Japan only approved the Pill in 1999 (together with Viagra). Emphasizing that development of the Pill occurred during the post-War period of technological euphoria, he believes that it could not be repeated in today's climate. Would the sexual revolution of the 1960s or the impending separation of sex ('in bed') and fertilization ('under the microscope') still have happened? This Man's Pill answers such questions while providing a uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
"A memoir of the birth control pill's monumental impact on its creator's life, as well as a capsule history of the Pill's development.... [Djerassi] looks at the Pill's acceptance around the world and raises some interesting what-if-it-hadn't-been-invented questions, but the heart of the matter is how the oral contraceptive changed Djerassi's own life. It brought him out of the chemistry lab and turned him into a novelist, poet, playwright, and innovative educator.... Knowingly and gloriously boastful."Kirkus Reviews
"To a degree almost totally foreign to scientists, Carl Djerassi has put himself and his science under the microscope. In the process, he ranges far afield from the social implications of this monumental synthesis of the birth control 'Pill' to his most recent excursions into the expression of science in literature, with poetry, fiction and the drama as his media. Join this voyeuristic feast."Joshua Lederbe
"Carl Djerassi's scientific authorship of one of the most socially significant innovations of our time is well known. In this book, he examines the implications and social reception of the Pill with a combination of humanistic concern and careful socio-scientific analysis that is as rare as it is valuable.'"Kenneth J Arrow, Nobel laureate in Economics, 1972
Meet the Author
Carl Djerassi is Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. One of the world's leading organic chemists, he is one of the few scientists to win both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is the author of five novels and several plays, and was named by Time Magazine one of the 30 most eminent people of the millennium.
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