Margaret Sanger by Jean H. Baker
A Life of Passion

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Synopsis

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. Her views on reproductive rights have made her a frequent target of conservatives and so-called family values activists. Yet lately even progressives have shied away from her, citing socialist leanings and a purported belief in eugenics as a blight on her accomplishments. In this captivating new 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 and midwife in the gritty tenements of New York's Lower East Side, Sanger grew increasingly aware of the dangers of unplanned pregnancy--both physical and psychological. A botched abortion resulting in the death of a poor young mother catalyzed Sanger, and she quickly became one of the loudest voices in favor of sex education and contraception. The movement she started spread across the country, eventually becoming a vast international organization with her as its spokeswoman.


Sanger's staunch advocacy for women's privacy and freedom extended to her personal life as well. After becoming a wife and mother at a relatively early age, she abandoned the trappings of home and family for a globe-trotting life as a women's rights activist. Notorious for the sheer number of her romantic entanglements, 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 Jean H. Baker

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Jean H. Baker is the author of Sisters: The Lives of America's 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.
 
Published November 8, 2011 by Hill and Wang. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Margaret Sanger

Kirkus Reviews

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She acknowledges Sanger's support of eugenics but asserts that Sanger was being pragmatic, requiring allies and finding many in the then-popular eugenics movement.

| Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

The Wall Street Journal

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Baker presents Sanger as a complex woman fertile with ideas, including not only the spectacular blessing of birth control but also eugenics and population control.

Dec 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

San Francisco Chronicle

Baker notes in her new biography "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion," Sanger has gone from renown to unknown - unclaimed by feminists critical of her support of eugenics, and thoughtlessly overlooked by a country still uncomfortable with women's reproductive rights.

Dec 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

(One quibble: despite calling Sanger an "adroit fabulist" and her 1938 Autobiography "at best incomplete propaganda," Baker relies heavily on that book, as well as another memoir, 1931's My Fight for Birth Control, to flesh out Sanger's early life.) From that point on Sanger worked tirelessly...

Nov 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

National Review Online

In her 1922 work, Pivot of Civilization, Sanger remarked that the state should respond with either “force or persuasion” when “the incurably defective are permitted to procreate.” Most tellingly, perhaps, in her 1920 book, Woman and the New Race, Sanger referred to birth control as “nothing more...

Dec 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

National Review Online

Baker portrays Sanger as a woman who had a strong will to succeed at everything she set her mind to, and who indulged her every passion during a time of great restriction.

Dec 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

Bloomberg

“Unyielding, relentless and egotistical” is how a supporter described Margaret Sanger -- though she added, “in a way that was wonderful to behold.” In “Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion,” historian Jean H.

Jan 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Margaret Sanger: A Life of Pa...

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