“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

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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.

Faculty in Conversation: Perri Klass and Dan Fagin

April 29, 2021

12:30 pm ET

Join NYU alumni to hear Professor Perri Klass discuss her new book A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future with Professor Dan Fagin.

Dan Fagin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes frequently about environmental science and is a journalism professor at New York University. His bestselling book, Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer for General Nonfiction, as well as the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, the National Academies Science Book Award and the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, among other honors. A rave review in the New York Times described Toms River as “great journalism” and “a new classic of science reporting.” Dan’s new book project is about monarch butterflies and the future of biodiversity in the Anthropocene.

The talk will be moderated by: Sylvan Solloway, Director of Career Services at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Learn more and register here.




Missed a talk? You can find recorded talks here.