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America and the Pill

America and the Pill

A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation

The Northeastern United States — home to abolitionism and a refuge for blacks fleeing the Jim Crow South — has had a long and celebrated history of racial equality and political liberalism. After World War II, the region appeared poised to continue this legacy, electing black politicians and rallying behind black athletes and cultural leaders. However, as historian Jason Sokol reveals in All Eyes Are Upon Us, these achievements obscured the harsh reality of a region riven by segregation and deep-seated racism.

White fans from across Brooklyn — Irish, Jewish, and Italian — came out to support Jackie Robinson when he broke baseball’s color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947, even as the city’s blacks were shunted into segregated neighborhoods. The African-American politician Ed Brooke won a senate seat in Massachusetts in 1966, when the state was 97% white, yet his political career was undone by the resistance to busing in Boston. Across the Northeast over the last half-century, blacks have encountered housing and employment discrimination as well as racial violence. But the gap between the northern ideal and the region’s segregated reality left small but meaningful room for racial progress. Forced to reckon with the disparity between their racial practices and their racial preaching, blacks and whites forged interracial coalitions and demanded that the region live up to its promise of equal opportunity.

A revelatory account of the tumultuous modern history of race and politics in the Northeast, All Eyes Are Upon Us presents the Northeast as a microcosm of America as a whole: outwardly democratic, inwardly conflicted, but always striving to live up to its highest ideals.
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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Modern / 20th Century

On Sale: September 6th 2011

Price: $15.99 / $18.5 (CAD)

Page Count: 232

ISBN-13: 9780465024599

What's Inside

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“The Pill kicked off a revolution in assumptions about sex and its consequences. Elaine Tyler May’s adept, succinct book makes it clear that the appearance of worry-free contraception immediately concretized the idea that choices about reproduction should be left to the individuals involved.”
New Republic

“May writes that the pill profoundly benefited married women.... It’s in such small but seismic shifts, this slender but important book reminds us, that history is made.”
—Boston Globe

“May skillfully shows how women fought for access to the pill, as well as for a safer pill against some pretty big contenders, pharmaceutical companies and the Catholic Church among them.”
Washington Post

“May’s material is fascinating.... Although America and the Pill is sometimes celebratory, it is actually most useful in illuminating some of the darker corners of the pill’s history, a history that women’s health activists ought to know.”
American Prospect

“[A] noteworthy uncontentious précis of the pill’s half-century in American life.... Understanding that the book is fundamentally, nonargumentatively pro-pill, one couldn’t ask for a better short history of its subject.”

America and the Pill concisely explains the development, evolution, and influence of this revolutionary technology on American culture from the 1950s through the present.... May has written an accessible, engaging text that commemorates an important contraceptive revolution.”
Journal of American History

“[I]n America and the Pill, historian Elaine Tyler May tidily debunks perceptions of oral contraception as feminism’s magic bullet.... America and the Pill is a lean, captivating history.... May is a skilled writer, and she weaves the book’s abundant personal accounts of women’s experiences with the Pill with discussion of governmental policies and historical records to create clear and legible scholarship. By the end of America and the Pill, I hadn’t just learned about the Pill--I had a better sense of our nation’s cultural history.”

“With characteristic clarity and wit, May has produced a compelling history of oral contraception that incorporates medicine, morals, and popular media. In concise and carefully crafted chapters she honors the feminists who enabled the initial research, explores the utopian hopes that the pill would solve world problems, and exposes the myths about its revolutionary impact. A wonderful read for students and a timely source for professionals and the public concerned about sexuality, reproduction, and social policy.”
—Estelle B Freedman, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in U.S. History at Stanford University and author of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women

“Brilliantly written and cogently argued, Elaine Tyler May’s America and the Pill beautifully portrays the intersection of the sexual revolution, the rise of feminism, and the emergence of the birth control pill. With a keen sense of how culture and politics interact, she explores all the ramifications of this extraordinary change, especially through the words of the women most directly affected. This is a tour de force.”
—William H. Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University and former president of the Organization of American Historians

“Elaine Tyler May is one of those rare historians who can take a set of complicated issues and make them both fascinating and comprehensible. This book belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who wants to understand how the Pill changed the lives of women—and men.”
—Margaret Marsh, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and University Professor of History, Rutgers University

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