November 29, 2021 8:16 AM EST

There is probably no more famous—or controversial—Supreme Court decision in American history than Roe v Wade. Yet despite her huge significance in contemporary culture, the story of “Jane Roe” has rarely been told. Norma McCorvey, the person behind the pseudonym, was a young Louisiana-born woman whose unexpected pregnancy in 1969 upended her life, as other pregnancies had for past generations in her family. Journalist Joshua Prager offers a masterclass in reporting in his book The Family Roe, which weaves concentric rings of activists and Christian fundamentalists, lawyers and Harvard Medical School graduates—groups called to action in the fiery debates over the case—to reveal a rich tapestry of American life and values in the 20th-century.

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