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Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West,

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  54 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews

In Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance, John Riddle showed, through extraordinary scholarly sleuthing, that women from ancient Egyptian times to the fifteenth century had relied on an extensive pharmacopoeia of herbal abortifacients and contraceptives to regulate fertility. In Eve's Herbs, Riddle explores a new question: If women once had

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published June 30th 1997 by Harvard University Press (first published 1997)
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Jan 14, 2013 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bit long-winded at times and it took me a few sessions over a long time period to finish, but interesting, with quite thorough research by the author. Scary how medieval women had more knowledge and choice than modern women in this way, or at least knew someone who did and could help them. In the 21st century, we've lost a lot of our reproductive rights and it's still being fought over by politicians, mostly male, and women who've fallen for the lies told about themselves. Every empowered woman ...more
My overall impression was quite positive and I think I might say that I liked the book. However, I have some critical thoughts about it. The most important thing for me is that the way the data is organized is a but messy. I guess that instead of chronological order it would have been more useful to organize it topically: for instance, to trace first the folk tradition of using herbs and than to turn to herbals that were written by more authoritative people. Also, I sometimes lacked the author's ...more
Ann Evans
Feb 03, 2011 Ann Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched book on the uses of contraceptives and abortifacients from ancient times to the present, in the Western world only. It is so full of surprises, and so full of implications for all women. I am wondering how I have ever gotten through life not being aware that women in ancient Rome were every bit as capable of controlling family size as we are today. It suggests that we have bought in to some silly presumptions, and given all power over to pharmaceutical companies when we c ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Sky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read!

I recommend it for anyone interested in old wise woman lore. The information is just as valuable today as it was hundreds of years ago.

Also, it gave an interesting chronology of pro-life vs pro-choice. To see how vastly the population's opinion of what constitutes life has changed over the years was enlightening.

This book is a great stepping stone to further research as well.
Aug 03, 2008 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good... lists all the DOZENS of herbs with contraceptive properties, and definitely makes you wonder why hormonal birth control is such a clusterfuck. The book is more history than science, however, too many reviews of ancient judicial systems for me.
Aug 05, 2010 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as research for a writing project. It was much better than anticipated. I learned a great deal.
Rosanna Nafziger
Jan 02, 2016 Rosanna Nafziger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Riddle presents some convincing evidence for the widespread use of contraceptive and abortifacient herbs throughout history, relying on historical texts, census data, and animal studies of these herbs' effects. He argues that the historical fascination with emmenagogues was really a coded way to talk about abortifacients and contraceptives (since this secret women's knowledge was persecuted as witchcraft).
Jan 04, 2016 Lily is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: herbalism-birth
I'm not done yet...but as a feminist doula in training with a focus on reproductive justice work and herbalist with a bent on ethnobotany and folk medicine and reclaiming suppressed women's histories this book is a treat! I tried to start a reading group around it, and people showed interest, however it's hard to come by and unavailable as of yet in open source. I want to read all of his books on contraception in the ancient eastern world too, and give these books to everyone I know with a femal ...more
Nov 30, 2008 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
long winded at times, but thorough. a great history on contraceptives and child-bearing, which i really appreciated.
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