Devices and Desires by Andrea Tone
A History of Contraceptives in America

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A down-and-out sausage-casing 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 contraceptives in America. Scholars of birth control typically frame this history as one of physicians, lawyers, and political activists. But in Devices and Desires, Andrea Tone breaks new ground by showing what it was really like to produce, buy, and use contraceptives during a century of profound social and technological change.

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 economical effects of chemical prophylaxes 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 trails from an illicit trade located in basement workshops and pornography outlets to one of the most successful legitimate businesses in American history.


About Andrea Tone

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Andrea Tone, an associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the author of "The Business of Benevolence" & the editor of "Controlling Reproduction: An American History". She lives in Decatur, Georgia.
Published June 1, 2001 by Hill & Wang. 368 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Advances, when they came, followed compromise or setbacks: Sanger’s dream of making contraception available to the poor clashed with her need to make it respectable, for example, and condoms became widely available in the military only after nearly 400,000 soldiers contracted venereal disease in ...

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Although some might argue that condoms already fill this need, Tone points out the irony that "the most frequently used contraceptive in th[is] country—by a wide margin—is irreversible female sterilization."

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