Catalogue


This man's pill : reflections on the 50th birthday of the pill /
Carl Djerassi.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
description
viii, 308 p. : ill.
ISBN
0198508727 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
isbn
0198508727 (alk. paper)
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
4598801
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Carl Djerassi, born in Vienna but educated in the US, is a writer and professor of chemistry at Stanford University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-09-01:
As a genre, the superstar scientist's memoir tends to be either very bad or very good. At best, it humanizes the person and offers perspective on the work. At worst, it smothers the reader with arcane details and reeks of arrogance. Djerassi, a true polymath best known as the inventor of the birth control pill, is too skilled a writer and broad a thinker to fall victim to the latter tendency. His new book is artful, thoughtful, and entertainingly iconoclastic. Still, for those familiar with his work, it covers much old territory. For example, in 1992 he published an autobiography (The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse), and 1994's From the Lab into the World addressed many of his thoughts on the social impacts of the Pill. The first five essays of this new book deal with the development and distribution of the Pill, most of which Djerassi has discussed in prior titles. The most interesting essays here are those in which he expounds upon his forays into literature and the arts a later life passion that he credits to perspective gained as a result of what he had experienced because of the Pill. In all, a worthy if not entirely fresh memoir. Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-07-16:
"Until 1969, I would have described myself as a `hard' scientist, the proudly macho adjective employed by chemists and other physical scientists to distinguish their work from the `soft,' fuzzy fields such as sociology or even psychology," writes Djerassi, whose historic synthesis of a steroid contraceptive in 1951 revolutionized human reproduction. In this learned memoir, he describes the turning point as the publication of his first public policy article in Science magazine, an event that he says marked the beginning of a life change attributable ultimately to the pill. The first part of this memoir is a well-reasoned apologetic on the pill's origins and its benefits to women, where Djerassi follows familiar debunkings: of fundamentalists, on the one hand, who regarded the pill as "a symbol, if not an agent, of what they perceived as a pervasive moral decline," and of feminists, on the other, who he says viewed the manmade contraceptive as the supreme gesture of patriarchy. The balance of this book, however, explores how the pill altered the rules of the author's own life, raising his awareness of "the social consequences arising from scientific and technological developments" and leading him down unexpected creative avenues; Djerassi, now in his late 70s and an emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford, has since become a prolific playwright and author of five novels and a book of poetry. His meditations on "science-in-theater" and other aspects of the writing life (along with frequent quotations from Djerassi's favorite authors) are sprinkled through the book, giving this winning, disorganized set of reflections depth and heart. (Oct. 15) Forecast: While few readers are likely to share Djerassi's precise combination of interests, this book should draw the attention of the parents of boomers, and the countercultural boomers themselves and it could break out on reproductive interest alone. Djerassi's play, An Immaculate Misconception, dealing with current fertility issues, opens in New York this fall. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
'Advance praise for This Man's Pill:'Carl Djerassi's scientific authorship of one of the most socially significantinnovations of our time is well known. In this book, he examines theimplications and social reception of the Pill with a combination of humanisticconcern and careful socio-scientific analysis that is as rare as it isvaluable.''Kenneth J Arrow, Nobel laureate in Economics, 1972
'Advance praise for This Man's Pill:'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 isvaluable.''Kenneth J Arrow, Nobel laureate in Economics, 1972
"A learned memoir.... Djerassi's meditations on 'science in theater' and other aspects of the writing life are sprinkled through the book, giving this winning, disorganized set of reflections depth and heart."--Publishers Weekly "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
"A learned memoir.... Djerassi's meditations on 'science in theater' and other aspects of the writing life are sprinkled through the book, giving this winning, disorganized set of reflections depth and heart."-- Publishers Weekly "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
'fascinating . . . entertaining'Redaktion Angewandte Chemie, 2002
'his essays are well worth reading' Nature 20/12/2001
'his essays are well worth reading'Nature 20/12/2001
'It is attractively written, appealing to non-scientists as well as to chemists'Chemistry in Britain, January 2002
'It is attractively written, appealing to non-scientists as well as tochemists'Chemistry in Britain, January 2002
''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 expressionof science in literature, with poetry, fiction and the drama as his media. Join this voyeuristic feast.''Joshua Lederberg, The Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 1958
''To a degree almost totally foreign to scientists, Carl Djerassi has puthimself and his science under the microscope. In the process, he ranges farafield from the social implications of this monumental synthesis of the birthcontrol "Pill" to his most recent excursions into the expression of science inliterature, with poetry, fiction and the drama as his media. Join thisvoyeuristic feast.''Joshua Lederberg, The Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 1958
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, July 2001
Publishers Weekly, July 2001
Library Journal, September 2001
Los Angeles Times, October 2001
San Francisco Chronicle, October 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In This Man's Pill, Djerassi reflects on the impact the invention of the contraceptive pill has had on the world, and on Djerassi himself. It includes an account of the early history of the pill.
Long Description
On October 15, 1951, in a small laboratory in Mexico City, one of the key episodes in 20th century social history occurred: the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive--an event that triggered the development of the Pill. Carl Djerassi has been honored worldwide for that accomplishment, which ultimately changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction in ways that were not then foreseeable. Now, on the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event, Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection and humor, illuminating the impact this invention has had on the world at large and on him personally. 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? Djerassi also credits the Pill with radically altering his life, allowing him to become one of the few American chemists to have a second career, that of a novelist and playwright. These talents are clearly evident in This Man's Pill, a superbly written and uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
Main Description
Carl Djerassi was responsible for the chemical synthesis of the first steroid oral contraceptive: he is widely referred to as the 'father of the Pill'. In This Man's Pill, Djerassi reflects on the impact the invention of the oral contraceptive pill has had on the world, and on himself. It includes a revisionist account of the early history of the Pill, debunking many of the journalistic and romantic accounts of its scientific origin. Here is a uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world, published to coincide with the Pill's 50th birthday this month.
Main Description
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 honoured worldwide for thataccomplishment, 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 inventionhas 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 thePill, 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-Warperiod 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 whileproviding a uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
Main Description
October 15, 1951 marks the birthday of one of the key episodes in 20thcentury social history: the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive in asmall laboratory in Mexico City - an event that triggered the development of thePill. Carl Djerassi has been honoured worldwide for that accomplishment, whichultimately changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction inways that were not foreseeable. On the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event,Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection andoccasional humour on the impact this invention has had on the world at large andon him personally. He credits the Pill with radically altering his academiccareer at Stanford University to become one of the few American chemists writingnovels and plays. This Man's Pill presents a forcefully revisionist account ofthe early history of the Pill, debunking many of the journalistic and romanticaccounts of its scientific origin. Djerassi does not shrink from exploring whywe have no Pill for men or why Japan only approved the Pill in 1999 (togetherwith Viagra). Emphasizing that development of the Pill occurred during thepost-War period of technological euphoria, he believes that it could not berepeated in today's climate. Would the sexual revolution of the 1960s or theimpending separation of sex ("in bed") and fertilization ("under themicroscope") still have happened? This Man's Pill answers such questions whileproviding a uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed theworld.
Main Description
On October 15, 1951, in a small laboratory in Mexico City, one of the key episodes in 20th century social history occurred: the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive--an event that triggered the development of the Pill. Carl Djerassi has been honored worldwide for that accomplishment, which ultimately changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction in ways that were not then foreseeable. Now, on the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event, Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection and humor, illuminating the impact this invention has had on the world at large and on him personally. 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? Djerassi also credits the Pill with radically altering his life, allowing him to become one of the few American chemists to have a second career, that of a novelist and playwright. These talents are clearly evident in This Man's Pill , a superbly written and uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
Main Description
On October 15, 1951, in a small laboratory in Mexico City, one of the key episodes in 20th century social history occurred: the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive--an event that triggered the development of the Pill. Carl Djerassi has been honored worldwide for that accomplishment, which ultimately changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction in ways that were not then foreseeable. Now, on the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event, Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection and humor, illuminating the impact this invention has had on the world at large and on him personally.This Man's Pillpresents 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? Djerassi also credits the Pill with radically altering his life, allowing him to become one of the few American chemists to have a second career, that of a novelist and playwright. These talents are clearly evident inThis Man's Pill, a superbly written and uniquely authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
Publisher Fact Sheet
An account of the invention of the birth control pill by the chemist who discovered it on its Fiftieth Anniversary.
Table of Contents
An exaltation of thirty: Murasaki and company
Genealogy and birth of the pill
Bitter pills
The view from Tokyo
Sex and Immortality
From the pill to the PC
Science-in-fiction is not science fiction
Is it autobiography?
Behind the scrim of fiction
The softer chemist
The pill and Paul Klee
Science on stage
What if?
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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