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May 28, 1982

Reproductive Anthropology: Descent Through Woman

Author Affiliations

Bluefield, WVa


by Donald A. M. Gebbie, 371 pp, with illus, $46.95, New York, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1981.

JAMA. 1982;247(20):2836. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320450068050

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Reading this book is like listening to a resolutions committee at a large medical convention bring in an endless and tiresome resolution. You know the kind I mean: where the resolutions committee chairman reads off six to ten "whereas" clauses before arriving at the point of the resolution. After completing each chapter, the reader is in the position of having heard one more whereas clause from the author. We keep hoping that he will eventually get to the point, but he never does. In addition to this disconcerting, verbose wandering through obstetric history, Dr Gebbie bows to present-day militant feminism by referring to the human race as "wan." This appears to be a newly coined word combining the first letter of woman with the last two letters of man, creating a new word that is simply distracting to the reader.

The title of the first chapter, "In the Very Beginning,"