Katia Hetter
March 02, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Long before tennis star Renée Richards broke ground for transsexuals in the late 1970s, Laura Dillon became a man in the ’40s. Pagan Kennedy’s The First Man-Made Man details the British aristocrat’s transformation. Dillon dressed like a man, took hormones, and underwent 13 operations courtesy of a plastic surgeon who had treated soldiers wounded in World War I. Michael Dillon then became a doctor, wrote a treatise on transsexuals, fell for a male-to-female transsexual, was exposed by the British tabloids, and sought inner peace in India. Dillon’s tale makes for a wild read. It’s also an absorbing look at a century of medical breakthroughs that allow people to change noses — or genitalia — to match their identities. A-

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