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Pandora's Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution

Subject Area(s):  Biology in SocietyHuman Biology and DiseaseGeneral Interest TitlesHistory of Science

By Robin Marantz Henig

© 2006 • 326 pp.
Paperback • $16.95 8.47
ISBN  978-087969809-6
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This is the highly acclaimed book by Robin Marantz Henig about the early days of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the ethical and legal battles waged in the 1970s, as well as the scientific advances that eventually changed the public perception of "test tube babies." Published in paperback for the first time, this timely and provocative book brilliantly presents the scientific and ethical dilemmas in the ongoing debate over what it means to be human in a technological age.

About the author: Robin Marantz Henig is the author of eight books. Her previous book The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She writes about science and medicine for the New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer, as well as for publications such as Scientific American, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post.

Robin Henig garnered two prestigious awards in 2006: The Science in Society Award, the highest honor in science journalism, awarded by the National Association of Science Writers, and The Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize awarded by The History of Science Society for the best book in the history of science for general readers.


Prologue: Monster in a Test Tube
Part One: Ex Ovo Omnia
1. Room Temperature
2. The Dance of Love
3. Laughingstock
4. Out of Control
5. Fits and Starts
6. Laboratory Ghouls
Part Two: The Modern Prometheus
7. Toward Happily Ever After
8. Baby Dreams
9. Science on Hold
10. The First One
11. A Baby Clone
12. Hang On
Part Three: Test Tube Death Trial
13. Fooling Mother Nature
14. Pandora's Baby
15. Normality
16. Prometheus Unbound
17. Verdict
Part Four: Not Meant To Be Known
18. Right to Life
19. Opening Pandora's Box
20. Tables Turned
21. From Monstrous to Mundane
22. Pandora's Clone
23. Mixed Blessings
Selected Readings


review:  “Pandora's Baby is an engrossing, hard–to–put down read telling how a once highly controversial potential advance becomes a widely appreciated tool for today's life.”
      —James D. Watson, Ph.D., Nobel laureate and author of The Double Helix and DNA: The Secret of Life

review:  “Pandora's Baby is informative, thought–provoking, and gracefully written. With the voice of a good storyteller and the authority of a careful researcher, Henig brilliantly probes the moral, philosophical, and social issues surrounding that most intimate of all scientific endeavors: the creation of human life.”
      —Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams

review:  “Fortunately, whether you have to explain the newest facts of life or simply want to understand them yourself, you can now turn to Robin Marantz Henig's beautifully written and timely book on the way in vitro (Latin for “in glass”) fertilization, or I.V.F., began with the tinkering of a few researchers during the 1960's, and how it became widely available. . . .Washington has refused to pay for the most controversial avenues of reproductive research. Yet in an age when for–profit companies and university scientists often become partners in the hope of striking it rich, it is no longer possible to close Pandora's box.”
      —The New York Times

review:  “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.”
      —Publisher's Weekly

review:  “Thanks largely to the publicity surrounding [the world's first test tube baby Louise] Brown, and the reassuring normality displayed by her and by the other test–tube babies that followed, Henig worries that we have forgotten the dark, tortured, surreptitious and often just plain weird origins of in vitro technology. She exhumes these beginnings, and in the process reminds readers of just how tentative and suspect IVF was. She also stresses how very recent this lurch into the brave new baby–making world has been and how, like so many other technologies, IVF moved rapidly from horrified disbelief into routine acceptance. . . [A]lively history.”
      —The Washington Post

review:  “...a fascinating book which should also appeal to non–medical readers.”
      —The Ulster Medical Journal

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