four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
By: 
Liza Mundy
user_rating: 
0

How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World

A-Everything ConceivableStorks don’t bring babies—airplanes filled with frozen embryos do! From the early days of in vitro fertilization to cutting-edge fertility clinics, parents-to-be spare no effort or expense to have a child with at least some of their genetic material. Science has caught up with that demand: there are half a million frozen embryos in America, the fertility drug industry racks up $3 billion a year, and fertility tourism to former Communist-bloc countries like Romania is booming. This increased control over making babies for a range of parents—from single moms to gay and heterosexual couples—has raised complex cultural, legal, and ethical questions that are rapidly changing society. Everything Conceivable doesn’t aim to answer them, but it makes sure they are addressed.
Knopf. 406 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 1400044286

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Everything Conceivable may be the best title of the year. And for those curious, it is an irresistible dispatch from the far frontier of parenthood. These days, as Mundy notes, the radical thing may not be to end a pregnancy, but to begin one." Karen Long

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Ms. Mundy opens a mind-boggling Pandora’s box to issues that surely give us pause. This book is destined to become a bible for those seeking to examine the many ways of making babies and the complex questions that result." Karen N. Thomas

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Indeed, some of the case histories here, meant to illustrate Mundy’s thesis that advances in reproductive technology have thrown the world into flux, seem more useful as backup for claims that biology remains destiny, that human nature hasn’t budged since the Stone Age." Polly Morrice

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"The topic of assisted reproductive technology is complex, yet Mundy keeps the narrative moving forward without dumbing down the story. She leads the reader through oblique concepts, acronyms and statistics, embedding the facts within the human stories, making her book palatable for serious students of the subject as well as the general reader." Julie Foster

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The insights of Mundy’s book, particularly in its darker passages, stand as illuminating cautionary tales to a society as much in love with technology as with genetically reproducing itself. … It is long past time that someone laid out publicly not only the joyous pictures of cute IVF babies but also the significant health risks faced by everyone involved in the process." Sharon Ullman

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"While Mundy does not hesitate to give us the gory details, she seems resolutely determined not to draw any broader conclusions from them. … She seems so enchanted by her subjects and so sympathetic to their plights that she refuses to touch more than briefly on the questions that their stories raise." Debora L. Spar

Critical Summary

Liza Mundy, an award-winning feature writer for the Washington Post, delivers a dispassionate, comprehensive view of assisted reproduction in the 21st century. She has clearly done her research, building the project from an initial assignment to look at infertility among minorities to a book that examines the manifold ramifications of our newfound ability to circumvent evolution. Her clear-eyed look at the world strikes a few reviewers as a bit too removed, and her interviews and case studies sometimes gloss over deeper sociocultural issues, but the overall consensus is that Mundy wades through this complicated, emotional subject with aplomb.