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Event Details

Wed, November 04, 2020

18:00 – 19:30

If you would like to attend the live Zoom session, please send us
an email to, by November 3, 2020, and
you will receive the link to enter the session.

Perri Klass, Co-Director of NYU Florence
presents her new book

Perri Klass, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at NYU
in conversation with
Gunilla Olsson, Director UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti
Larry Wolff, Silver Professor of History; Co-Director, NYU Florence

The fight against child mortality 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.

Join us for a conversation about the ways that science and medicine can transform family life, about history and medicine and child welfare, and taking care of the people we love.


A Good Time to Be Born” is an ambitious, elegant meditation on what the doctor-writer Perri Klass describes as one of our greatest human achievements: a reduction in child mortality… she takes the most complex human patterns of all — history, medicine, politics, art — and knits them into something unique and beautiful.
The New York Times, October, 2020
Other book reviews.
Featured Biographies

Perri Klass


Perri Klass is Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University and Co-Director of NYU Florence; her new book is A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future,  a study of the decline in infant and child mortality, and the effects on parenting, pediatrics, culture, and society. Dr. Klass writes the weekly column, “The Checkup,” for the New York Times. Her nonfiction books include Every Mother is a Daughter, coauthored with her mother, and Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit In, coauthored with Eileen Costello, M.D., A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student, and Baby Doctor: A Pediatrician’s Training. Dr. Klass is the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, which works through pediatric primary care to promote reading aloud to young children.

Gunilla Olsson


Gunilla Olsson was appointed as the Director of the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti in 2020. Prior to her current position she was serving in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General as Head of the Transition Team for the repositioning of the UN development system. Gunilla served as the UNICEF Representative in Indonesia from 2014 to 2017 and as UNICEF Director of Governance, United Nations and Multilateral Affairs from 2010 to 2014. In addition to her UNICEF experience, Gunilla has held several senior leadership positions over the course of her career and led many complex change processes, including as Executive Director of Change and Reform and Director of Policy at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as Director and Deputy Head of the Department for Global Development and Head of Policy and Projects at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and in various capacities at other bilateral and multilateral agencies. Gunilla has more than 35 years of experience working on child rights, sustainable development, poverty and equity, in the field, at UN headquarters and in government. She holds a degree in Social Anthropology, Economic History and Political Science from the University of Stockholm and has completed specialized courses on leading change, including at Harvard Business School.

Larry Wolff


Larry Wolff is the Silver Professor of History at New York University, Executive Director of the NYU Remarque Institute, and Co-Director of NYU Florence. His most recent book is The Singing Turk: Ottoman Power and Operatic Emotions on the European Stage from the Siege of Vienna to the Age of Napoleon (2016). He is also the author of Paolina’s Innocence: Child Abuse in Casanova’s Venice (2012); The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture (2010), Venice and the Slavs: The Discovery of Dalmatia in the Age of Enlightenment (2001), Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (1994), The Vatican and Poland in the Age of the Partitions (1988); and Postcards From the End of the World: Child Abuse in Freud’s Vienna (1988).His next forthcoming book (2020) is Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe.  He has received Fulbright, American Council of Learned Societies, and Guggenheim fellowships, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.