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You will not need to reach the 100 pages of notes and bibliography at the end to recognize the assiduous enterprise with which this history of contraception, and its opposition, from Comstock to the Knights of Columbus, has been accomplished. Even Queen Victoria whose name became synonymous with prudery said plaintively: ""what a hard task it is for us women to go through this very often."" But it was not from the feminist point of view (in spite of some of the best remembered later exponents of birth control-- Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes) as much as the socio-economic that family limitation became a cause-crusade through the years. Fryer traces the whole history of contraception from the time, in the 12th century B.C., when crocodile dung was used as a pessary, to the improvisation of the male sheaf (mid 19th century), to the present. In the 19th century, with the campaigning of Francis Place and Carlile, and the ""diabolical handbills"" of John Stuart Mill, the whole issue became more overt; in America Robert Owen sponsored it along with a little known physician, Knowlton; all, with the exception of Marie Stopes, who could not assume the unbearable ""responsibility for the unborn,"" were freethinkers. The birth control movement was an attempt to place human needs beyond the dictates of the Church, and to divorce the consequence of reproduction from an earlier concept of shameful pleasure. Sound social history, proliferating with examples from life and literature.

Publisher: Stein & Day