ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Agent—c/o St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Science journalist. Producer for BBC-TV.
AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for Assault on the Male.
The Feminisation of Nature: Our Future at Risk, Hamish Hamilton, 1997, published as Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999, republished as The Estrogen Effect: How Chemical Pollution Is Threatening Our Survival, Griffin (New York, NY), 2000.
The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of ScientificRivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World, Fourth Estate (London, England), 2000, published as Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved theMystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, St. Martin's Press (London, England), 2002, published as The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Dreams of Iron and Steel: Seven Wonders of theNineteenth Century, from the Building of the London Sewers to the Panama Canal, Fourth Estate (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: A British journalist specializing in science and technology, Deborah Cadbury is the author of several books, among them Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature, Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science, and Dreams of Iron and Steel: Seven Wonders of the Nineteenth Century, from the Building of the London Sewers to the Panama Canal.
Cadbury's Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature is an analysis of declining rates of human fertility. Cadbury explores indications that the increased prevalence of synthetic chemicals, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and plastics, may have disturbed the hormonal systems of human beings and other mammals. According to Cadbury, the synthetic chemicals might overwhelm hormonal systems with estrogen-like substances that exert what she calls a "feminizing" influence. Cadbury contends that these estrogen-like chemicals may serve to diminish male potency and increase the likelihood of various illnesses, including cancers of the testicles, prostate, and breasts. She has also determined that the chemicals can be discerned worldwide in earth and water and can be traced in various living creatures.
Altering Eden was hailed as a compelling study. A Publishers Weekly critic described the book as "a chilling account of industrialization's adverse . . . effects," and John Gribbin, writing in the Times Educational Supplement, called it "a loud and clear warning that it is time to mend our ways." Another reviewer, Susan Greenfield, wrote in New Statesman that Cadbury's book "is authentic and honest enough to conclude without attempting to sew everything up prematurely." Greenfield also observed, "The gloomy but riveting spectre of this book is that we have unwittingly struck the ultimate Faustian bargain." Elaine Showalter, meanwhile, wrote in the London Observer that "Cadbury marshals some disturbing evidence for her hypothesis."
In 2001 Cadbury published Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science, which tells the story of the beginning of modern paleontology, starting in 1812 when Mary Anning discovered a giant skeleton in the cliffs of Dorset, England. The discovery of dinosaur skeletons created an uproar among biblical scholars, who tried to reconcile these discoveries with their own beliefs. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Terrible Lizard "a must-read book for dinosaur enthusiasts, and for anyone who has ever wondered about the source of . . . human origins." Gilbert Taylor, in Booklist, referred to Terrible Lizard as a "richly descriptive book" and a "good . . . contribution to popular paleontological historiography."
A centuries-old mystery comes under Cadbury's scrutiny in The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA. Louis, the young son of the ill-fated Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, was imprisoned by French revolutionaries in the late eighteenth century and died of neglect and disease at age ten. In the years following his death, several pretenders to his name and stature appeared, as would similarly happen with Russian princess Anastasia following the Russian Revolution in 1917. In Cadbury's book she discusses the history of the dead prince's "afterlife" and recounts the DNA tests that put an end to most questions regarding this popular mystery. In a Quadrant review R. J. Stove praised her work as "finely recounted" and called The Lost King of France "the best book in the English language which can be imagined on its theme." Dubbing the work "winning" and "highly readable," a Publishers Weekly reviewer also had praise, writing that "Cadbury does an exemplary job describing the history, the mystery and the tragic fate of Louis XVII."
In Dreams of Iron and Steel Cadbury returns readers to the nineteenth century, as engineers tackled huge projects that represented a revolution in technology: the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the construction of the Great Eastern, a cruise ship designed to carry 4,000 passengers. Focusing on the human rather than the technological, Cadbury brings to life "the visionary, sometimes almost delusional men" who made such dreams a reality, noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, adding that Dreams of Iron and Steel is "dedicated to the human ingenuity displayed in . . . battles with a stubborn and capricious natural world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science, p. 1716; December 15, 2003, David Pitt, review of Dreams of Iron and Steel: Seven Wonders of the Nineteenth Century, from the Building of the London Sewers to the Panama Canal, p. 722.
Contemporary Review, April, 2003, review of The LostKing of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA, p. 255.
Library Journal, November 1, 1999, Noemie Maxwell Vassilakis, review of Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature, p. 118; November 1, 2002, Robert C. Jones, review of The Lost King of France, p. 99.
New Statesman, August, 1997, Susan Greenfield, "Oestrogen Alert," p. 4950.
Observer (London, England), June 20, 1997, Elaine Showalter, review of The Feminisation of Nature, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, September 6, 1999, review of Altering Eden: The Feminization of Nature, p. 90; May 7, 2001, review of Terrible Lizard, p. 229; September 2, 2002, review of The Lost King of France, p. 70; December 15, 2003, review of Dreams of Iron and Steel, p. 63.
Quadrant, June, 2003, R. J. Stove review of The LostKing of France, p. 79.
Times Educational Supplement, August 8, 1997, John Gribbin, "Alligators with the Soft Bite," p. 25.*