October 15, 1951 marks the birthday of one of the key episodes in 20th century social history: the first
synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive in a small laboratory in Mexico City - an event that triggered the
development of the Pill. Carl Djerassi has been honoured worldwide for that accomplishment, which ultimately
changed the life of women and the nature of human reproduction in ways that were notforeseeable. On the
50th anniversary of this pivotal event, Djerassi weaves a compelling personal narrative full of self-reflection
and occasional humour on the impact this invention has had on the world at large and on him personally. He
credits the Pill with radically altering his academic career at Stanford University to become one of the few
American chemists writing novels and plays.
This Man's Pill presents a forcefully revisionist account of the
early history of the Pill, debunking many of the journalistic and romantic accounts of its scientific
origin. Djerassi does not shrink from exploring why we have no Pill for men or why Japan only approved thePill
in 1999 (together with Viagra). Emphasizing that development of the Pill occurred during the post-War
period of technological euphoria, he believes that it could not be repeated in today's climate. Would the
sexual revolution of the 1960s orthe impending separation of sex ("in bed") and fertilization ("under
the microscope") still have happened?
This Man's Pill answers such questions while providing a uniquely
authoritative account of a discovery that changed the world.
Carl Djerassi, professor of chemistry at Stanford University, is one of the few American scientists to
have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive
- "the Pill") and the National Medal of Technology (for promoting new approaches to insect control).
of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesas well as many foreign academies, Djerassi has received 18 honorary doctorates together with numerous other honours, such as the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the first Award for the Industrial Application of Science from the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Chemical Society'shighest award, the Priestley Medal.
Review from other book by this author Carl Djerassi's scientific authorship of one of the most socially significant innovations of our time is well known. In this book, he examines the implications and social reception of the Pill with a combination of humanistic concern and careful socio-scientific analysis that is as rare as it is valuable.
Kenneth J Arrow, Nobel laureate in Economics, 1972
fascinating . . . entertaining
Redaktion Angewandte Chemie, 2002
It is attractively written, appealing to non-scientists as well as to chemists
Chemistry in Britain, January 2002
his essays are well worth reading
To a degree almost totally foreign to scientists, Carl Djerassi has put himself and his science under the microscope.
In the process, he ranges far afield from the social implications of this monumental synthesis of the birth control "Pill" to his most recent excursions into the expression of science in literature, with poetry, fiction and the drama as his media.
Join this voyeuristic feast.
Joshua Lederberg, Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 1958