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Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero Paperback – Aug 4 2003


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Praise for Morgantaler: A Difficult Hero

"This engaging and insightful biography of Dr. Henry Morgantaler, the complex, vain and brave man who challenged Canada’s abortion laws, is threaded with the tumultuous history of the right-to-choice movement. Catherine Dunphy, a fine journalist, writes a fascinating account of Morgantaler, his friends, his foes¾ and how the victory was won."

—June Callwood

"Morgantaler is not only an intimate biography of an extraordinary Canadian, it is a fascinating history of the struggle for women’s choice in Canada. Morgantaler’s tumultuous life and his contradictory relationship with the movement that supported him comes alive on every page. Even I learned things I didn’t know."

—Judy Rebick

" A riveting study of a complex, self-aggrandizing, and breathtakingly selfish man whose path is strewn with his victims: family members, wives and partners, legions of lovers, even colleagues. It is also the record of a hero hailed by grateful women everywhere he goes, a courageous and driven man who symbolizes the struggle to legalize abortion in Canada."

—Elizabeth Abbott, Montreal Gazette

"This shrewd and unblinking biography of one Canadian’s most controversial figures gives full weight to Henry Morgentaler’s suffering and strength as a survivor of the holocaust while tracing the turbulent story of his campaign for women’s right of choice."

—Citation of the Jury for the 1997 Governor General’s Literary Awards Nominations

"Still running eight out of Canada’s sixteen free-standing abortion clinics three decades after he began, Morgentaler personifies a profound transformation in Canadian society. Dunphy’s biography not only chronicles that transformation, but also exposes the contradictions of an obstinate but extraordinary man…the biography’s strength is its glimpses of the private man behind the impervious face and superior intellect."

—Maclean’s

"Dunphy…has indeed written a superb documentary on women’s work in the pro-choice movement, along with a complicated, honest and affecting portrait of Henry Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero, as the book is called. There’s a deep pleasure in reading our own Canadian history¾ our women’s history¾ written from a woman’s viewpoint. And Dunphy, an award-winning writer, carries the story forward with lively anecdote, subtle observation and open-minded inquiry. This is the best book ever written about a ground-breaking era in our recent shared past."

—Michele Landsberg

"I have always thought that those who sought to frighten, threaten, bend or break Henry Morgentaler simply did not understand him. After Auschwitz and Dachau, after bitter opposition from every government, he stands¾ simply¾ for the principle of choice for women. ‘There is nothing you can do to me,’ he seems to say, ‘that has not been attempted by experts. You change. I will not.’ This marvelous book explores the mystery of that strength and that commitment. It is a spellbinding inquiry into Henry Morgentaler, a man of uncommon and singular courage."

—Clayton Ruby

"This book will anchor the reader’s attention from the first page to the last, through a lifetime of political activism, challenges and persecution. Catherine Dunphy has explored the man behind the issues and Morgentaler emerges as a single-minded crusader, a caring doctor and teacher and a dedicated activist. I found Morgentaler engrossing but personally disturbing as it revisited many memories tinged with pain. Henry did for the abortion issue what the abortion issue did for Henry and both suffered and flourished as a result."

—Dr. Marion Powell

"This is a gripping book, splendidly written, about a man, a movement and a historic era that began in pre-war Europe, encompasses the Holocaust and the rebirth of feminism, and ends as we approach the millennium. Catherine Dunphy accomplishes an amazing feat in illuminating the forces that created a complex hero; Morgentaler comes to life in the context of his times, in a biography that is truly greater than the sum of its parts."

—Judy Steed

From the Back Cover

Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero is the definitive biography of one of Canada’s most controversial personalities. Dr. Henry Morgentaler is the unlikely hero at the center of Canada’s most divisive issue—the right to legal and medically safe abortion—and a man of intense contradiction. He is a champion of women, a humanist, and a caring, compassionate doctor, beloved by patients from all social strata. Yet his relationships with friends, family, and lovers over the years have been troubled. Morgentaler is no easy hero, but he is an intriguing subject.

This book is the first to tell his story completely, in all its complexity. It traces the life of a man forced to face death at an early age in Auschwitz, a man who has chosen to live as a perpetual and deliberate outsider, and a man who may not himself understand why he feels he must go to battle for an issue that few Canadians are comfortable with. Morgentaler paints a fascinating portrait of a heroic Canadian figure, complex in his motivations, loved and hated for his central role in the country’s most dangerous debate.


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