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Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passionby Jean H Baker
Synopses & Reviews
Undoubtedly the most influential advocate for birth control even before the term existed, Margaret Sanger ignited a movement that has shaped our society to this day. Yet her star has waned. A frequent target of so-called family values activists, she has also been neglected by progressives, who cite her socialist leanings and purported belief in eugenics. In this captivating biography, the renowned feminist historian Jean H. Baker rescues Sanger from such critiques and restores her to the vaunted place in history she once held.
Trained as a nurse, Sanger saw the dangers of unplanned pregnancy and pioneered the first family planning clinic, the forerunner to Planned Parenthood. The movement she started spread across the country, eventually becoming a vast international organization with her as its spokeswoman. Baker demonstrates that Sangers staunch advocacy of womens privacy and freedom extended to her personal life as well: after abandoning the trappings of home and family for a globe-trotting life, she became notorious for the sheer number of her romantic entanglements. That she lived long enough to witness the advent of “free love” and the creation of the birth control pill—which finally made planned pregnancy a reality—is only fitting.
Margaret Sanger became one of the most vocal advocates for birth control at a time when the mere mention of such things was considered not only taboo but a felony. She pioneered the first family-planning clinic—the forerunner to Planned Parenthood—and became a lightning rod for the cause. In recent years, though, Sanger has been largely cast aside by the movement she spawned. In this lively biography, the historian Jean H. Baker argues convincingly that Sanger deserves the vaunted place in feminist history she once held.
Trained as a nurse, Sanger saw the dangers of unplanned pregnancy and made contraception her cause. Married and a mother at a relatively early age, she abandoned the trappings of home and family for a globe-trotting life as the figurehead of a movement. Notorious for the sheer number of her affairs, Sanger epitomized the type of “free love” that would become mainstream only at the very end of her life. That she lived long enough to see the creation of the birth control pill, which finally made planned pregnancy a reality, is only fitting.
About the Author
Jean H. Baker is the author of Sisters: The Lives of Americas Suffragists (Hill and Wang, 2005) and many other books on American history. She is currently a professor of history at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.
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