Format Hardcover
Publication Date 05/06/25
ISBN 9781639365883
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 400

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A History of Childbirth and the Female Struggle to Govern Our Bodies

Lucy Inglis

A groundbreaking history of childbirth filled with medical, political, and social triumphs, Born is the story of how we give birth set against the female struggle to govern their ability to reproduce.

Born moves around over time and large geographical, social, and cultural distances, but returns continually to a series of themes: the experience of pregnancy, the act of childbirth, and latterly, the fight for reproductive autonomy.

Whatever their ultimate outcomes, pregnancy and the act of childbirth are at once an individual and communal event. No two births are the same, yet the history of childbirth informs us about so much more than this intimate moment in the lives of a woman and her offspring. The act of childbirth informs us as unique individuals, yet at the same moment makes us part of something much greater than ourselves.

This book is the sum of many stories that combine war, art, science, and politics with the fundamental act of human existence. It is not a book about parenting or motherhood beyond the moment of delivery and the short time afterward. Instead, this is a story of the evolving role pregnancy and childbirth have played in societies through history, of the mysticism, the practicalities, and the power struggles that have shaped nations, yet also, individual identities.

Our narrative starts out in prehistory and ends now, with the reversal of Roe v. Wade, taking in mother-and-child bone fragments of the Ice Age, the cries from the medieval birthing chair, and the calls to rally of our modern age. This is how we are Born.

Lucy Inglis is the creator of the award-winning Georgian London blog and her book of the same name was shortlisted for the History Today Longman Prize. She is also the author of two novels for young adults, including City of Halves, which was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Branford Boase award. She lives in London.

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Endorsements & Reviews

Praise for Lucy Inglis’s Milk of Paradise:
"This sweeping history explores our millennia-long relationship with Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy. Deftly tracking opium’s path along global trade routes, Inglis illuminates various cultures and industries that have sprung up around it, from the Chinese opium den to the contemporary pharmaceutical manufacture of opioids." The New Yorker
"As Lucy Inglis recounts in her sweeping new history of opium, the tension between the substance’s medicinal virtue and its dangers is ancient. [She] untangles these contradictions with gusto. A deeply researched and captivating book." The Economist
"Lucy Inglis has done a wonderful job bringing together a wide range of sources to tell the history of the most exciting and dangerous plants in the world. This book tells us more than about opium; it tells us about ourselves.” Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
"A model of lucidity. This timely account will interest advocates and concerned citizens. Inglis’s skillful command of style will please them all." Library Journal (starred)
"A learned, engaging, and ambitious look at the cultural history of a product that’s much talked about these days but little understood. Inglis provides a sweeping history of the cultivation and uses of opium across a millennium and across cultures, showing how it’s been stitched into the fabric of our societies, time and again, always a complex and provocative relationship." CrimeReads
"A sweeping, panoramic history of opium and its deep roots in a vast array of societies and cultures. A keen analysis of how entrenched opium is in modern culture in everything, from medicine to war to addiction to commerce. A well-crafted history of civilization seen through the prism of one of the most profitable agricultural products in human history." Kirkus Reviews
"In this wide-ranging and at times vivid narrative, Inglis charts several millennia of opium’s history. A must-read for anyone interested in the roots of the opioid crisis." Publishers Weekly
"Lucy Inglis’s fabulous book Milk of Paradise is the history of civilization as shaped by opium. A triumph, epic in scale and full of humanity." The Times (London)
"An invaluable resource for any reader who wants an exhaustive understanding of the world’s opioid crisis. As Inglis makes clear, opium has long been a substance of deep social, political, religious, and economic significance." - American Conservative "An important book.” The New Criterion