OVERRIDE

Devices and Desires

A History of Contraceptives in America

Andrea Tone

Hill and Wang

A down-and-out sausage case worker by day who turned surplus animal intestines into a million-dollar condom enterprise at night; inventors who fashioned cervical caps out of watch springs; and a mother-of-six who kissed photographs of the inventor of the Pill—these are just a few of the fascinating individuals who make up the history of contraception in America. Scholars of birth control typically frame its history as one of physicians, lawmakers, and political activists. But in Devices and Desires, Andrea Tone breaks new ground by showing what it was really like to buy, produce, and use contraceptives during a century of profound social and technological change. She combines lively portraits of figures with a thorough history of technological and industrial developments.

Tone begins with the passage of the 1873 Comstock Act, which criminalized the birth control business, and ends with the inventions of today (including Depo-Provera and Norplant). Along the way, she assesses the social and economic effects of chemical prophylaxis kits for World War I soldiers, condoms, the Lysol antiseptic douche, and the 1973 Dalkon Shield disaster (among others). In lively and engaging prose, her book illuminates the industry's transformation from an illicit trade located in basement workshops and pornography outlets to one of the most successful, legitimate businesses in American history.

REVIEWS

Praise for Devices and Desires

"Once in a while, you come across a book that is so original, so persuasive, so meticulously researched and documented . . ." --Barbara Seaman, The Nation

". . . Tone brings an original dimension to the story [of birth control] and . . . offers fascinating vignettes of small-time birth control entrepreneurs." --Daniel J. Kevles, The New York Times Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Andrea Tone

  • Andrea Tone, an associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the author of The Business of Benevolence and the editor of Controlling Reproduction: An American History. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.
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    Devices and Desires

    A History of Contraceptives in America

    Andrea Tone

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    Hill and Wang

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