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Comment: Condition: As new condition., As new dust jacket. Binding: Hardcover. / Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan / Pub. Date: 2004-05-07 Attributes: Book, 324 pp / Stock#: 2048346 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany Hardcover – May 7, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition (May 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403965021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403965028
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story."-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
"Richard Weikart's outstanding book shows in sober and convincing detail how Darwinist thinkers in Germany had developed an amoral attitude to human society by the time of the First World War, in which the supposed good of the race was applied as the sole criterion of public policy and 'racial hygiene'. Without over-simplifying the lines that connected this body of thought to Hitler, he demonstrates with chilling clarity how policies such as infanticide, assisted suicide, marriage prohibitions and much else were being proposed for those considered racially or eugenically inferior by a variety of Darwinist writers and scientists, providing Hitler and the Nazis with a scientific justification for the policies they pursued once they came to power."--Dr. Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, and author of The Coming of the Third Reich
"This is an impressive piece of intellectual and cultural history--a well-researched, clearly presented argument with good, balanced, fair judgements. Weikart has a thorough knowledge of the relevant historiography in both German and English."--Alfred Kelly, Edgar B. Graves Professor of History, Hamilton College
"Taking a middle ground between scholars on both sides, Richard Weikart has traveled far and wide to bring together a broad range of important programs, institutions, and thinkers who shaped the social and political ramification of Darwinian thought in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany. Many of the voices Weikart conveys appear here in English for the first time."-- Kevin Repp, Yale University

From the Inside Flap

"This is one of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable. Rather than simply connecting the dots, so to speak, the author provides a sophisticated and nuanced examination of numerous German thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were influenced to one degree or another by Darwinist naturalism and their ideas, subtly drawing both distinctions and similarities and in the process telling a rich and colorful story. "
-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

More About the Author

Richard Weikart is professor of history at California State Univ., Stanislaus. He earned his Ph.D. in 1994 at the University of Iowa in modern European history with specializations in modern Germany and modern European intellectual history. His dissertation, which was subsequently published as a book, _Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein_, won the biennial prize of the Forum for History of Human Science for best dissertation in that field. He subsequently published with the scholarly publisher Palgrave Macmillan two books on the history of social Darwinism and evolutionary ethics in Germany: _From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany_ and _Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress_. He has also published a book on the theology of Bonhoeffer. In addition to his books, he has published many articles, review essays, and reviews in scholarly journals.

Customer Reviews

I imagine none of the people who gave it a one star review actually read it.
HorrorReader
For his part, Nietzsche read Darwin, but was even more radical in drawing moral conclusions from his views on evolution and eugenics. (p. 49.)
Peter S. Bradley
And, the most influential Darwinist since Darwin himself, Ernst Mayr doesn't get a mention either.
David A. Gibson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The subject of Nazi Germany still is a very popular topic for books, articles and public discussion. Having read many books and articles on this area of history, I can confidently conclude that this is one of the most important (and one of the best scholarly sources). In contrast to many authors who quote each other (and must rely on secondary sources printed in English), Weikart's work relies heavily on primary sources published in German during the time he is covering. Weikart is fluent in the language (I only studied it to pass my Ph.D. reading exams) and lived in Germany to do his research. As a result, Weikart includes much new material for scholars to mull over for the next century. He covers the basic question asked about this era, namely, why did Nazism start and grow in the most educated nation in the world and why did so many scientists (especially biologists of various types) and medical doctors firmly side with Nazism? Understanding why Nazism happened is critical to insure that it never happens again. This work focuses on the major influence of Darwinism, but also covers in a very balanced way other influences. Like a story, he develops a major point in each chapter, building onto the story and his conclusion. The 42 pages of notes fully document his conclusions. This book is a must for anyone interested in not only Nazi Germany but the whole question of the source of morality and ethics.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) on June 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent overview of late 19th -early 20th century German `Social Darwinism', detailing the widespread politicisation of intellectualism and `science' in Germany, well before the Nazis and Hitler ever came to power. It reveals much of where Hitler and the Nazis actually got their views from; eg ideas on extreme militarism, race superiority and race determinism, human inequality and expendability, `might is right' policies and ideas, and various other extreme forms of eugenic/Social Darwinism, which were widespread amongst German intellectuals. Numerous German intellectuals and their ideas are detailed in his book (eg Forel, Ploetz, H.Chamberlain, Hellward, Schonerer, Haeckel, Dodel, Woltmann, Lenz, Fritsch, Ribbert, Kirchhoff, Peschel, Kaup, Jaeger, Buchner, Lehmann, Schallmayer, Luschan, Tille, and others), in the decades preceeding Nazism, many advocating Nazi-type ideas supposedly based on `science', before Hitler ever came to power, who followed a long trend of data distortion probably derived from the tenuous relationship between German political culture, and German science.

It is very surprising what various, highly respected German scientists/intellectuals of the time, well before the Nazis, actually believed or debated, as being `justified' by biology.
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65 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Larry Arnhart on October 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The review by G. Sherwood is silly.

He criticizes Weikart's book for not showing how the eugenics movement in the United States provided a model for Hitler. But that's not the concern of Weikart's book, which is to provide an intellectual history of the orgins of Nazism in German social Darwinism.

I disagree with Weikart. I think the title of his book should be "From Haeckel to Darwin," because I think Daniel Gasman has shown conclusively that Ernst Haeckel was the primary ideological influence on Nazism and Hitler. Actually, if you look at the index to Weikart's book, you will see more references to Haeckel than to any other person.

But I agree with Weikart that Hitler and his Nazis exploited an ambiguity in Darwinian biology that could be used to promote racism and eugenics. Hitler was able to use the Darwinian language of "survival of the fittest" to promote his own schemes. This is the dark side of Darwinian science.

The problem is that there is little evidence that Darwin himself promoted Nazi eugenics. In fact, the social Darwinists that influenced the Nazi movement often disagreed with Darwin's account of the natural moral sense, as Weikart indicates.

And yet Weikart does show very clearly the intellectual history of Nazi racism as the product of a distorted Darwinian legacy. For that, we should be grateful.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By bill greene on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book reveals a lot about German intellectuals and their love of the "mad" philosophers who called for a superior race and a "Superman Leader." Weikart provides an interesting and detailed review of those intellectual currents leading up to the rise of the Nazi Party. Hitler's most vicious and racist ranting seemed to represent a mere paraphrasing of earlier intellectual arguments that had long-since seeped into the German psyche. Darwin's role by comparison was minor and less directly supportive of eugenicists' positions.

Most of the reviewers emphasize the importance of Darwin and the varied Darwinian theories--debating to what degree Darwin's theory of Evolution actually inspired Hitler's policies. Indeed the author is faulted for not making that connection either stronger or weaker. I suspect those who must connect Darwin with Hitler's theories are primarily motivated by a desire to bring some "science" into their pre-conceived ideas about racial differences. But, note that Hitler's policies and success were assured with or without Darwin and his Book.

For readers interested in this subject I would recommend the 4th chapter in William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." Shirer had actually lived in Germany during Hitler's rise to power, and he documents the same intellectual history in Germany that had advanced the extreme hatred for other races, the worship of power, a lust for conquest, and dreams of a superman leader who, free of all moral constraints, would lead them to crush all weaklings and enemies of the Aryan culture.
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