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Breeding Contempt: The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States Hardcover – August 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0813541822 ISBN-10: 0813541824 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"A deeply researched and richly nuanced account of the methods and motives that shaped this dark chapter in American history—and that continue to haunt contemporary debates."
(Leila Zenderland author of Measuring Minds 2099-01-01)

"Mark Largent's account of more than a century of involvement of leading Americans in coerced sterilization movements is disturbing and provocative."
(Philip J. Pauly author of Biologists and the Promise of American Life 2099-01-01)

"The history of eugenics has enjoyed increasing scholarly attention over the past ten years. Mark A. Largent's book contributes to this rejuvenated literature with a narrative that skillfully follows the history of coerced sterilization in the United States from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Largent's history reveals how campaigns in favor of sterilization extended well beyond the rise and fall of the mainstream eugenics movement."
(American Historical Review 2009-06-01)

"An important and thoughtful book that pushes scholars to view the relationship between eugenics and coercive sterilization more carefully and to reconsider the impact that American professionals other than biologists had on popular ideas about and social policy governing reproductive fitness."
(Journal of the History of Biology 2008-01-01)

"A well-researched, thoughtful and accessible history of forced sterilization in the USA. Breeding Contempt has much to commend it. The breadth of research and its clear writing make it an essential contribution to the history of science in the USA. Its slim size and accessible arguments make it especially useful for undergraduates, and its careful attention to the complexity of sterilization—involving medicine, biology, and the coercive power of the state—raises many important and difficult questions about this largely unknown aspect of American history."
(Social History of Medicine 2009-01-01)

"Breeding Contempt is a useful contribution to a growing scholarly literature
on eugenics and sterilization in the U.S."
(Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 2008-01-01)

"Largent gives the fullest account to date of the tens of thousands of sterilizations performed in the United States, and in disentangling this history from the maligned eugenics movement, he reveals the varying motivations behind the practice over the last 150 years."
(Bulletin of the History of Medicine 2008-01-01)

About the Author

Mark A. Largent is an associate professor of science policy and the director of the Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy Specialization at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He is the editor of the Studies in Modern Science, Technology, and the Environment series published by Rutgers University Press.

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More About the Author

Mark Largent is an Associate Professor in James Madison College at Michigan State University, Associate Dean in Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University, and directs the Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy Specialization. He earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota's Program in the History of Science and Technology in 2000 and has taught history of science, science policy, and American history classes at Michigan State, Oregon State, and the University of Puget Sound. His first book, Breeding Contempt, explores the history of compulsory sterilization in the United States. In 2012 he published Vaccine: The Modern American Debate, which traces the emergence of parents' current concerns about the modern vaccine schedule. Early in 2015 his third book, Keep Out of Reach of Children: Reye's Syndrome, Aspirin, and the Politics of Public Health will be published.

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