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Cassidy, Tina

Cassidy, Tina

PERSONAL:

Married Anthony Flint; children: Hunter, George.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Boston, MA. E-mail—[email protected] tinacassidy.net.

CAREER:

Boston Globe, Boston, MA, editor and reporter, c. 1993-2005.

WRITINGS:

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born (nonfiction), Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of blog Tina Cassidy's Blog.

SIDELIGHTS:

Tina Cassidy's book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born is a detailed, graphic description of birth and birthing practices throughout history. It grew out of the author's response to her own childbirth experience, which ended in an emergency Caesarean section after a long labor. The decision to resort to surgery may not have been truly necessary, but "rather than feeling hot outrage at her ordeal, Cassidy chose cool-headed inspiration," and began to research and write her book, noted Alexandra Jacobs in her New York Times Book Review assessment of Birth. Jacobs added: "What she discovered in her research is revolting, in both senses of the word. For a book about birth is also inevitably a book about death." Cassidy explains why humans have the hardest time of all creatures when giving birth, due to their large skulls and small pelvic structure. She cites the alarming statistics that show the United States having a very high rate of childbirth mortality, despite being a much more technologically advanced society than many with lower mortality rates. She traces the changing perception of childbirth from natural event, treated in natural ways, to an experience increasingly controlled by medical practitioners who found many ways to make birth truly traumatic, with strange and invasive methods of sedating and manipulating the laboring woman. She documents the quickly changing fads among childbirth practitioners, from drug cocktails that erase the woman's memory of her experience to the creation of cozy hospital rooms intended to evoke the feeling of being in a home.

Cassidy's book is vivid in its depiction of childbirth instruments and practices, making it unsuitable for fainthearted readers, according to some critics. At the same time, it is short and breezy in tone, a "clever, almost reverent" narrative, according to Abby West in Entertainment Weekly. A Kirkus Reviews writer called it "fascinating, funny and occasionally shocking." Washington Post Book World writer Sara Sklaroff commented: "Cassidy has put together a concise survey, with more breadth than depth. Some of the material won't be all that surprising to anyone who has prepared for childbirth…. But there's plenty of new gore for those who want it."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Entertainment Weekly, October 27, 2006, Abby West, review of Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, p. 77.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Birth, p. 817.

New York Times Book Review, September 24, 2006, Alexandra Jacobs, review of Birth.

Publishers Weekly, August 21, 2006, review of Birth, p. 63.

Washington Post Book World, October 22, 2006, Sara Sklaroff, review of Birth, p. 8.

ONLINE

DadLabs,http://www.dadlabs.com/ (February 14, 2007), Clay Nichols, review of Birth.

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