[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 26, 1992

The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse: The Autobiography of Carl Djerassi

Author Affiliations

Medical Communications Resources Inc Rye, NY

JAMA. 1992;268(8):1033. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080107038

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


Dr Djerassi is a Renaissance man. He is a distinguished scientist, an able entrepreneur, and a talented writer. However, his autobiography is a bewildering sequence of anecdotes, confessions, commentaries, and lectures that do not work together.

This is not to say that there aren't some interesting moments. Djerassi is a profound observer of modern medical history, and his experiences are of great interest. In particular, he has had success as a scientist-entrepreneur, coupling academe and industry. I would have liked to have found a more extensive analysis of how and why he succeeded and how other synergies of US industry and academe could develop.

For me the most enjoyable parts of the book were those in which Djerassi presents his own creative ideas. His efforts to develop a computer program that would function as a referee for a scholarly journal, his concepts of scientists as modern seafarers, and his ideas