Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
Illuminating, moving and fun
on 11 May 2003
I find the series title a bit off-putting. It suggests the opposite to what it says. Don't be misled. There is nothing patronising or naff about this book. It is the intellectual autobiography (more or less) of a very intelligent person who, amongst other things, took the leading role in setting up and running the Human Embriology Authority. Mary Warnock takes us through her own growing up in school, university and war, and thus gives the personal context in which her views developed. She covers not only in vitro fertilisation, but experiments on embryos, abortion, euthanasia, the moral upbringing of children, human rights and post-modernism. She may be less than 100% in favour of the latter. Post-modernists sometimes get close to arguing that any views on anything are of equal worth - but here is a person who believes that the quality of argument really matters: we should not allow ourselves to be conned by superficial assertions.
I found everything the author had to say interesting and stimulating. Towards the end of the book, though, I found her views on children beginning to make me think of her as Nanny Warnock [editing a couple of years later, and having re-read the work, I'm not really sure why I thought this], and her views on whether we should extend "rights" to animals perhaps less like argument and more like assertion of a characteristically determined kind. But what's the point in reading only what you agree with?
It is exquisitely written in economical, elegant English prose. I found the opening chapter, the most narrative, especially compelling. Worth reading from this point of view alone.
I'm surprised there aren't a lot of reviews for this pleasurable and affecting work already. Indeed, having reread it eight years on from my first review, I find I like it the more