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Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Our World 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400044283
ISBN-10: 1400044286
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A revolution is taking place and it's being driven by the most fundamental of all human urges—the desire to reproduce. This revolution is the subject of Mundy's utterly fascinating book on assisted reproduction. The breadth and thoroughness of Mundy's investigation makes it nearly impossible to come away without having your opinions challenged if not changed altogether. Mundy, a feature writer for the Washington Post, combines a science reporter's objectivity with a mother's understanding, and she delivers her emotionally charged and often scientifically complex material in clear, bright and eminently readable prose. Mundy's research starts with the facts: 80 million people worldwide suffer from infertility; 500,000 frozen embryos exist in America alone; and fertility drugs are a $3-billion a year business. From there she interviews mothers, fathers, infertility doctors, surrogate mothers, egg donors, sperm donors and adult children conceived through surrogacy and in vitro fertilization. The picture that emerges is one of a social experiment so new and untested—legally, medically, ethically and socially—that it behooves us all to be as informed as possible. There couldn't be a better starting point than this book. 75,000 first printing. (Apr. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Liza Mundy, an award-winning feature writer for the Washington Post, delivers a dispassionate, comprehensive view of assisted reproduction in the 21st century. She has clearly done her research, building the project from an initial assignment to look at infertility among minorities to a book that examines the manifold ramifications of our newfound ability to circumvent evolution. Her clear-eyed look at the world strikes a few reviewers as a bit too removed, and her interviews and case studies sometimes gloss over deeper sociocultural issues, but the overall consensus is that Mundy wades through this complicated, emotional subject with aplomb.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044283
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Everything Conceivable" by Liza Mundy is fascinating to say the very least. This book takes the reader on a thorough, unbiased trip through the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). As Liza Mundy proves with every turn of the page "reproductive technology is mirroring social change, but it also enables and drives that change, in ways that will affect every single citizen, and probably already have." Thus this book should intrigue everyone, both male and female, fertile and infertile because these issues indeed "affect every single citizen."
Liza literally takes the reader with her into reproductive clinics where doctors are performing selective reduction or stirring up humans in petri dishes. She brings the reader into the homes of the loving parents who's child came from those petri dishes and talks with both male and female gamete donors. "So broad is the patient base, and so eager is the field to accommodate them, that assisted reproduction has gone from being an oddball fringe technology to being perhaps the most socially influential reproductive technology of the twenty-first century." This exsquisite compilation is not just of facts and figures but stories full of raw emotion, real people, real life right here and now with consequences so far reaching that soon no one will escape them.
Meet same sex couples, their egg donors and surrogates. Meet the children of IVF and hear how they feel about not being biologially related to one of their parents. Hear tales of motherly exchanges via a website dedicated to mothers and children of sperm donor #1476. Ask yourself how you feel about a man donating sperm to his infertile son's wife so that his son will be raising his literal half brother.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gracefully written, meticulously researched, compassionately reported, this is a Sorcerer's Apprentice story of technology that has vastly outstripped anyone's judgment. For once, the problem is not political or corporate corruption -- the failure to consider the most fundamental notions of policy or ethics is due, more than any other cause, to the overwhelming passion of people who want to be parents, as Mundy notes more committed and unselfish than any other people classified as "patients" in our health care system. Filled with heart-wrenching -- and heart-lifting -- stories, scientific and technological developments that seem like something out of a comic book but are going on right now in your neighborhood, unforgettable characters, mind-bogglingly difficult choices, and Mundy's own wisdom, this is one of the finest and most important non-fiction books I have read in years.
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Format: Hardcover
For those who don't know anything about the field of assisted reproductive technologies, this serves as a great, though rather wordy, introduction to the $5-billion U.S. fertility industry. Mundy's style is engaging in general, and the content is captivating on its own because it is so sci-fi to most people. This book is packed full with personal stories from the front lines of "investigative reporting": meet real egg donors and gestational surrogates and their recipients, agonize with real families who are deciding which of their triplets to "selectively reduce," meet real lesbian couples who conceived with donor sperm, etc.

One thing that I didn't like about this book is that Mundy missed, it seems to me, an opportunity to give more of a voice to the children conceived with donor gametes, and more consideration and thought to their rights, problems and concerns. In the one chapter that she does have on the subject of children's rights, the children themselves actually don't get much of a voice. Much of the chapter is again devoted to the perspective of parents and professionals in the fertility industry, who also get the whole rest of the book. The fact that the children only get what is in essence half or less than half of a chapter in a whole book about repro tech is in itself very telling. It seems that the resulting children are often an afterthought in an industry that is geared entirely to satisfying the desires of infertile adults.

The other thing I didn't like was Mundy's occasional editorializing in this book. She is obviously in favor of using the reproductive technologies she writes about, she is pro-choice, and also clearly a Democrat -- and whenever she talks about anyone who has different opinions they are inevitably labeled "far Right".
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Format: Hardcover
While our current technology may be some years away from the industrial cloning techniques of "Brave New World" or the custom-optimized embryos of "Gattaca", we can already store and manipulate the raw materials of embryo creation so that a woman can give birth to a child not genetically hers created from egg and sperm whose donors may no longer be living. Furthermore, with our increasing knowledge of the genetic contribution to disease and human traits and the availability of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to screen embryos before implantation in the uterus, we can not only screen for unwanted genetic traits, but also for desirable ones.

Liza Mundy explores these issues and many others in "Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World", a thorough and in-depth look at the science, business, practice, ethics and implications of assisted reproduction and related technologies. As a veteran science reporter, Mundy brings an objectivity and immediacy to her descriptions of the people and technology involved in this growing business. As a mother, Mundy brings a humanity and compassion in her interviews with couples seeking reproductive help and the people, including donors, surrogates and doctors, who are willing to provide that help, for a fee.

While people actively seeking assisted reproduction or those in the science and business of it might seem to have the most relevant interest in "Everything Conceivable", everyone in society has a stake in these new reproductive technologies and their expansion of our traditional definitions of kinship; their effects on current society and future generations; and even their challenge to what it means to be human.
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