The Most Secret Quintessence of Life
Sex, Glands, and Hormones, 1850-1950
Through a series of case studies drawn from Central Europe, the United States, and Britain, The Most Secret Quintessence of Life explores how the notion of sex hormones enabled scientists to remap the human body, encouraging hopes that glandular interventions could cure ills, malfunctions, and even social deviance in ways inconceivable to previous generations. Many of these dreams failed, but their history, Chandak Sengoopta shows, takes us into the very heart of scientific medicine, revealing how even its most arcane concerns are shaped by cultural preoccupations and anxieties.
"It is easy to write interestingly about sex, harder to be scholarly about this fascinating subject, and hardest of all to be both scholarly and interesting. Chandak Sengoopta has achieved this last feat. The Most Secret Quintessence of Life is a major contribution to the history of sexuality and its medical investigation during the formative period of what is now the thoroughly respectable medical speciality of endocrinology. . . . This fine monograph is cultural history of medicine at its best."