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Pandora's Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution Paperback – May 23, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0879698096 ISBN-10: 0879698098 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1 edition (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879698098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879698096
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her judicious history of the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF), NBCC finalist Henig (The Monk in the Garden) notes that many of the objections posed to IVF in the 1970s would later be used against human cloning, in particular the argument that artificial reproduction interfered in intimate processes best left to nature and that it was the first step on a "slippery slope" leading to genetic engineering and selective breeding. Ironically, because IVF was such a political hot potato, the U.S. government declined to fund research in the field, leaving it essentially unregulated except by the imperatives of a marketplace. Henig's narrative begins in the days when IVF was controversial, experimental science; she describes the work of maverick Columbia University researcher Landrum Shettles; of English doctors Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe, responsible for the birth of the first "test tube baby," Louise Brown, in 1978; of Howard and Georgeanna Jones, who made the East Virginia Medical School a pioneering IVF center; and of doctors and philosophers in the new field of bioethics who strove to get a grip on the moral implications of it all. Few of the more frightening predictions about IVF have come true, the author notes, but the rate of birth defects in IVF babies is much higher than in normal conceptions. We don't know where reproductive technology ultimately will take society, Henig concludes, but it's likely that "we will adapt to new discoveries the way we have so often adapted." Her level-headed book provides a welcome context for the current debate over cloning.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Once upon a time, not so long ago, two couples, one in the U.S and the other in England, each wanted a baby. The English couple gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Alas, the American couple gave birth to a lawsuit. Yet both, along with attendant physicians, researchers, hospital administrators, lawyers, and politicians, together gave birth to a major controversy over the notion and reality of scientific experiments in human procreation. Quoting from authors including Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Carl Sagan (Broca's Brain), science and medicine specialist Henig writes intelligently about the raging discussion over the first instances of in vitro fertilization in the 1970s. She profiles the individuals involved, touching on similar research around the globe, and examines the good and ill consequences to date of science's foray into human reproduction and the implications of that foray. Henig manages to treat a complex and emotionally charged topic evenhandedly even as research presses ever forward with cloning and cross-species experimentation. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I'm a long-time science journalist and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. In addition to my most recent book -- Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?, co-authored with my daughter Samantha Henig -- I've written eight others, as well as articles about health and medicine for The New York Times Magazine, Civilization, Discover, Scientific American, Newsweek, Slate, and just about every woman's magazine in the grocery store. I'm vice president of the National Association of Science Writers, doyenne of a terrific writers salon that meets periodically in my living room, and in 2010 I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors as well as a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.

I went to Cornell, where I met my husband Jeff, a political scientist who teaches at Columbia University's Teachers College. Jeff and I raised our daughters, Samantha and her older sister Jess, in Takoma Park, Maryland, while Jeff was teaching at George Washington University. Now we're empty nesters in Manhattan, and spend our free time going to movies and museums, walking in Central Park, and reading for our co-ed book club.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Katha Pollitt on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Adjectives like "judicious" and "level headed" (see the Publisher's Weekly review) don't do justice to this lively and probing and timely book. Henig has the gift of conveying complex scientific information painlessly and the stories she tells are riveting, full of hubris, lawsuits,medical cowboys, desperate would-be parents, nutty fundamentalists (in one protest at an in-vitro clinic, they carried a sign that read "Incest in a Test Tube") and, of course, politics. If you've been following the debate over stem cell research, cloning or the work of the President's commission on bioethics ( its chairman,Leon Kass, appears in this book as an early opponent of IVF ) Pandora's Baby is invaluable. And if you haven't been following, this is a great place to start.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Pandora's Baby, Robin Henig tells of a confrontation which came to a head in 1973, where a hospital administrator in New York learned of a rogue experiment in progress which might have created the first human fetus through in vitro fertilization. His decision fostered a new era in reproduction technology and issues which continues to this day, and Henig's survey of IVF procedures and history provides the story of a technology under fire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Baker on May 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book was meticulously researched and very well written. Despite the overwhelming basis in history, science and fact, it was not dry or boring. It had both a human aspect - the weaving together stories of couples undergoing IVF and doctors' frustrations at the early science of it. The scope of this global. I expected it to focus on only America, but this was not the case. If you are interested in IVF, I would highly recommend this book.

It is not a "how to" guide nor is it a self-help book. The world today has wholly embraced IVF. This book shows the uphill battle doctors, patients and the world faced with getting to where we are today.
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Format: Hardcover
Pandora's Baby is narrated like a good story, and describes the controversy over the first test tube baby. I read this book over five or six years ago, and will go back to re-read it again soon. This book was one that combined science and literature quite beautifully. I am always looking for science based books that are both informative/educational, and well-written. Most science related books seem to disappoint on this level. Other books are usually fragmented in their description of the topic, or are dull. This book exceeds my expectation.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Sexton on December 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I got this book after reading the excerpts from a online book club since it is a topic I am interested in. Overall the book was very difficult to get through. It is really about medical ethics than it really is about the history of assisted reproduction. The "cast of characters" was very confusing to follow. To learn more about the couple you meet in the beginning takes chapters. I am not a science person but enjoy reading factual accounts. This book is more of an education lesson than entertainment.
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