―A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize
―Shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
―A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2011
―A Discover Magazine 2011 Must-Read
―A Slate Best Book of 2011
“Ms Hvistendahl’s distinctive contribution is twofold. She provides a history of the modern practice of sex-selective abortion, based on new and detailed research, and she helps readers think about its possible consequences….One hopes her book will help the subject get its due.”
The Economist
Unnatural Selection is an important book and a fascinating read. Mara Hvistendahl is a delightful writer: witty, engaging, and acute. But the tale she tells is deeply disturbing. Asia alone is missing 160 million women and girls, a number equal to the entire female population of the United States. According to Hvistendahl, the culprit is less deeply rooted cultural gender bias than rising wealth, elite attitudes, and Western influence and technology. Development, at least for the coming decades, will produce not only fewer children overall, but also many fewer girls. The result is a future for many parts of the world, from India to China, Azerbaijan to Albania, where brides are much more likely to be bought, women are much more likely to be trafficked, and men are much more likely to be frustrated. For the present, we must confront the stark reality that the availability of ultrasound and ready abortion are sharply reducing the number of women in the world.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs, Princeton University
“A bracing work of investigative reporting….As news of these (gender) imbalances has spread, many have blamed ancient preferences: India’s patriarchal social systems, for instance, or Chinese beliefs that only boys provide for ageing parents. Hvistendahl’s research puts the lie to these lazy claims.”
Josh Kurlantzick, The Financial Times
Unnatural Selection reads like a great historical detective story, and it’s written with the sense of moral urgency that usually accompanies the revelation of some enormous crime.”
Ross Douthat, The New York Times
“Massively well-documented….Engrossing….[Hvistendahl] has not only done her research but has also carried out extensive investigative journalism in several countries.”
Elaine Showalter, The Washington Post
“An ambitious, provocative, and carefully crafted book….After reading it, I will never think about Asia’s disappearing daughters in the same way again. “
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Asian Review of Books
“A hard-hitting, eye-opening study….Hvistendahl’s important, even-handed exposé considers all sides of the argument and deserves careful attention and study.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Provocative, wide-ranging…. A thoughtful, smartly researched overview of medical developments, policymaking and cultural trends that combined to upset the global sex ratio.”
Nina Mehta, Bloomberg
“A critically important story of demographic surprises and skewed sex ratios, trafficked wives and mail-order brides. Thanks to the devaluation of females and misused technologies, sex selection has reached staggering dimensions in recent decades. Hvistendahl’s call to action is the most well-documented and compelling yet.”
Judy Norsigian, executive director, Our Bodies Ourselves