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Publisher's Summary

A masterpiece of reporting on the Supreme Court’s most divisive case, Roe v. Wade, and the unknown lives at its heart.

Despite her famous pseudonym, no one knows the truth about “Jane Roe”, Norma McCorvey (1947-2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1970 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent years with Norma, discovered her personal papers, a previously unseen trove, and witnessed her final moments. With an explosive revelation at the core of the case, he tells her full story for the first time. 

Prager also traces Roe’s 50-year trajectory through three compelling figures: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first Black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. 

Essential to our understanding of this key debate, the right to choose or the right to life, The Family Roe will change the way you think about our enduring American divide.

©2021 Joshua Prager (P)2021 Recorded Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about The Family Roe

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Well-rounded and informative

So much insight, woven with intimate portraits of history-making figures. The author took the time to truly learn the motivations of each person involved on both sides of the issue. Care is taken to understand every perspective. Although many medical procedures are graphically described and can be unpleasant to learn about, the realistic and descriptive language points a true picture, while also explaining the heartwrenching decisions behind such difficult choices. I only wish, knowing the author is Male, that the narrator would also have been male. Although she does an excellent job, to me, it skews the perspective and does make a difference when the author inserts himself into the narrative.

5 people found this helpful

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Wow! The things you don’t know…

Having been born just prior to the “Roe baby” abortion has been a topic throughout my life. The multiple players, how their lives crossed and how it plays into current events is eye opening. Great listen regardless of what side you are on.

4 people found this helpful

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Just wow.

Simply amazing.

Regardless of your stance of Roe v. Wade, Joshua Prager’s magnum opus on the key players of the landmark decision is simply amazing. Prager spent eleven years with this, the Family Roe, and his hard work and dedication to detail and the truth is refreshing. Another reviewer trashed this book as not being about the deliberations of the SCOTUS, but about the “depressing life of Roe and her parents and grandparents.” That’s WHY it’s called “The FAMILY Roe” and not “The SCOTUS’s Legal Reasonings Behind Roe.” (Spoiler: the SCOTUS legal reasonings are part of the book.) This is a comprehensive biography of nearly every life that influenced--or was influenced by--Norma McCorvey and the Roe decision, and all those stories are important elements of the big picture of The Family Roe.

This book is a deep dive into the lives of everyone who was impacted by the original decision—Norma McCorvey’s parents and grandparents, her upbringing, her sexuality, her relationships, the fathers of her children, her temperment and mental status, and the truths and mistruths circulated over the decades, as well as how she was manipulated, exploited, and "handled" by the revolving door of abortion activists on every side of the debate up to and including the day of her funeral. The Roe story isn't a simple one because it isn't a story about one person-- and it's a story that won't ever be concluded. Regardless, it's important becaue it perfectly illustrates how the media, law, politicians, religious groups, and individuals all see things from different vantage points, and how each has the ability to twist and turn those same events into something that suits them.

This book arrives at a pivotal time in American history. Roe v Wade was handed down less than a week before my own birth in January of 1973. Like me, millions of American women have never known a time in their lives when a woman's right to a legal abortion has not been the law of the land. Few Americans even understand how and why the SCOTUS arrived at their decision or the trajectory of the lives of those who participated. This is an important book.

Excellent job, Mr Prager. And thank you Michelle and Jennifer and Shelley.

3 people found this helpful

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Well done!

I am the age of Shelly. I never knew (or bothered to inquire) about the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. I recalled my mom summarizing the mini-series for me back in the late ‘80s and knew the ultimate decision/ramifications etc. I didn’t even know that the “baby” was ever born (I assumed she wasn’t)…then I saw a stupid yahoo news story regarding Shelly, coached in information regarding the recent Texas abortion ruling(s). Out of interest, I looked for a book to educate myself.
Wow. Just Wow! Great job, author and Sisters (Shelly, Melissa and Jennifer)! Thank you for you hard work, vulnerability and transparency. What a great, thorough (and interesting) treatise on this historic decision!

2 people found this helpful

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Engrossing and Illuminating.

This is a well-written story. Thoughtful and sad, yet uplifting in the end. The background was quite fascinating with generational story upon story. The legal Information required focus, and certainly underlined just how complicated this issue was to bring to court. Unfortunately, 2021 is seeing a fearful come back of anti-abortionist bizarre laws.

2 people found this helpful

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I have learned so much!

So well written and narrated. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about this history from the angle of so many lives that were touched by "Jane Roe!"

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Great read

Loved this book, great information, bought the printed version so I can read it myself.

1 person found this helpful

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An Incredible Story

This is an incredible story that covers the effect of poverty, addiction and mental illness on one of the most moral and difficult questions of all time. There is no right answer as this book sadly points out. All who proclaim to be righteous and on the side of having all the answers are just as fallible as our protagonist “Jane Roe.” The documentation illustrates just how hard the author worked to finally get the story of her life straight. A true accomplishment.

1 person found this helpful

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The Family Roe

This book tells the story in its broadest scope, highlighting the life of Jane Roe, her origins, her descendants, and prominent pro-choice and pro-life activists. It gives the background for trying to understand the conundrum abortion has become in America. It is well written, and the performance is engaging.

1 person found this helpful

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Review of "The Family Roe."

I did not enjoy this book. It was WAY too long. It would have benefitted from far more discipline in the writing and editing processes.

1 person found this helpful