“In A Good Time to Be Born, [Klass] takes the most complex human patterns of all—history, medicine, politics, art—and knits them into something unique and beautiful.”

—The New York Times

A Good Time To Be Born

How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future


The fight against child mortality that transformed parenting, doctoring and the way we live.

Only one hundred years ago, even in the world’s wealthiest nations, children died in great numbers—of diarrhea, diphtheria and measles, of scarlet fever and meningitis. Culture was shaped by these deaths; diaries and letters recorded them, poets and writers wrote about and lamented them. Not even the high and mighty could escape: presidents and titans of industry lost their children, the poor and powerless lost theirs even more frequently.


The near-conquest of infant and child mortality is one of our greatest human achievements. Perri Klass pulls the story together for the first time, paying tribute to scientists, public health advocates, and groundbreaking women doctors who brought new scientific ideas about sanitation and vaccination to families. Thanks to their work, early death is now the exception, bringing about a massive transformation in society and freeing parents to worry a lot more about a lot less.

Lecture: Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, CT

January 13, 2021

5:30 pm ET

Dr. Klass will speak at The Mark Twain House’s first “Trouble Begins at Home” of 2021. The Mark Twain House’s “Troubling” series is a great way for Twainiacs to come together to discuss all things Twain, share their passions, and have a bit of fun. Klass will be interviewed by Director of Collections Jodi DeBruyne on Wednesday, January 13th at 5:30 pm to discuss her book, Langdon Clemens, and how measles plays a role in both Twain’s fiction and his autobiography. This is a FREE event hosted virtually on Crowdcast. Donations encouraged.


Visit https://www.crowdcast.io/e/perri-klass-2 for more information and event registration. 

Book talk: Harvard Bookstore

January 22, 2021

7:00 pm ET

Dr. Klass in conversation with Professor Maria Tatar. 

More information soon!



Missed a talk? You can find recorded talks here.