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Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America Paperback – October 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416540768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416540762
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former Columbia University Faculty Fellow Chesler succeeds admirably in bringing the extraordinary career and controversial personality of Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) to life in this skillfully researched and objective biography. Sanger, a political radical, devoted herself to ensuring women's access to contraception after observing the plight of the poor as a public health nurse. An astute organizer, she fought against the opposition of a conservative political and religious male establishment, building a national and international birth control movement. Chesler explores the negative as well as the positive aspects of Sanger's character, noting that she was known to manipulate people and sometimes modified her views to achieve her ends. A strong believer in her own right to a fulfilled sex life, Sanger married twice and took many lovers, including Havelock Ellis and H. G. Wells. This is an outstanding biography of a feminist reformer whose achievements changed the lives of women forever. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The contemporary social debate over women's reproductive rights provides a timely backdrop for this major new biography of Margaret Sanger and her struggle for birth control. Sanger spent 50 years organizing a movement and advocating for birth control rights that are taken for granted in today's Western world. Chesler believes that Sanger's impact on women's lives has not been adequately appreciated or documented. This biography succeeds admirably in filling the gap with a new look at Sanger's private and public life. Interwoven in this account are discussions of the sweeping social and political developments of the 20th century. Chesler presents a Margaret who rejected the conventional restrictive female role and, while living a hidden and unconventional private life, worked publicly to push society into accepting new rights for women. This work is carefully documented and, while not as breezy a read as some biographies, is a major contribution to women's history. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
- Judy Solberg, Univ. of Maryland Libs., College Park
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Worth the read, for anyone interested in women's history.
Beverly Diehl
Read this book, and see how similar the America of today is to the America of Margaret Sanger's time.
Diane Schlank
The book is fairly long so it took me awhile to read but it was worth it.
Heather

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading this book for a women's history class. I found it hard to put down. It's a shame that it is out of print, as Margaret Sanger's life story, and her struggle for the reproductive rights of women and female autonomy, make for enlightening reading. Ellen Chesler put in an enormous amount of work, documenting every detail, and weaving the whole into a very readable book. I would definitely recommend this to any reader, not only those interested in the empowerment of women, but also those NOT interested in it, since it might change their minds! Definitely an important work, and an important woman, for gaining an understanding of how the 20th century has been shaped.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sally G. Knight on June 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's a long biography, thoroughly researched. For that I'm grateful. I know I can rely on the information here. But, it does get to be a bit tedious of a read. Fortunately, the drive, dedication and determination of Ms. Sanger comes through all the minutia. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but seldom indifferent, we pretty much find out who this woman was. Certainly she was a product of her times, as are we all, but also a champion of a most basic human right, to be free to control our own reproductive lives. I'm so glad to know Margaret Sanger and to have developed a deeper understanding of how precious reproductive freedom is.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peterr Hansen on March 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
One thing that you have to realize is that Sanger was attempting something that required necessary evils. Sanger made many sacrifices in order to foster the female rights movements, one which included allying herself with people that she may have not agreed with, yet knew were morally corrupt. You can see a very blatant and obvious comparison with most politicians nowadays.....if you want to accomplish something revolutionary, and break the thick self-perpetuating mold of social construction, you have to go against your true beliefs sometimes. You have to look at her long time accomplishments in order to create an opinion of the woman. Yes, her eugenicist empathy was completely out of line, but she would have never gained support at the time if she hadn't appeased certain big dogs who required it. She was a victim of circumstance...in my opinion....but she was trying to help millions of women who were the true victims of circumstance, many of which had died from self-performed abortion....ultimately it's your call. Obviously the rights of women and African Americans are still far from where we'd like them to be...but because of Sanger women have gained the inspiration and motive that they lacked beforehand.
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Format: Paperback
Meticulously researched and footnoted, this somewhat ponderous tome (about 670 pages including the notes and index) does not make for a quick beach read. It's fascinating to learn how very many of the rights modern women take for granted come from the work of this brave and dedicated woman, who began the movement and started the clinics that eventually morphed into Planned Parenthood, both in the USA and internationally.

People - even doctors - didn't even TALK about the phrase (ssssh) BIRTH CONTROL a hundred years ago. Sanger changed that, brought an awareness of the need to offer women reproductive choices other than abstinence, too many babies, or illegal and risky abortions.

Sanger's reputation has been much besmirched in the last few decades by those who hate that women are making their own choices as to when - or whether to become mothers. As Chesler presents her, Sanger was far from perfect; she made enemies as well as friends and supporters. She was loath to give up the glory/credit for work that others joined in as well. (Sanger may have been one of the earliest pioneers of name branding.)

Redheaded, witty and attractive, she did not believe in monogamy (at least for herself) and engaged in countless affairs, including one with writer H.G. Wells, somehow managing it that none of her men became jealous of her other lovers or husbands; they were all happy, or at least content, having a tiny bit of her time and attention. Whether you believe this disgustingly immoral or not, it's still an amazing feat for anyone to pull off. She was not a good mother, neglecting her children for the cause of B.C.

But she was not a supporter of Nazism, race eugenics, or racism - those are all LIES propagated by those with an axe to grind.
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