By Abby West
Updated October 20, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

What’s more natural than childbirth, right? Birth, Tina Cassidy’s examination of how evolution, culture, and technology have long meddled in the birth process shows just how unnatural it can sometimes seem. Due to the shape of human pelvises and big-headed babies, childbearing is painful. Add man’s attempt to ”help” and it gets even trickier. ”What is state of the art one year is outmoded and unfathomable the next, leaving us to laugh at the hocus-pocus…or recoil in horror at the damage done.” Though Cassidy’s well-researched and engaging account is not for the faint of heart (craniotomies and placenta cocktails, anyone?), it’s a clever, almost reverent look at an enduring everyday miracle.