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From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany Hardcover – June 30, 2004
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'One of the finest examples of intellectual history I have seen in a long while. It is insightful, thoughtful, informative, and highly readable.' - Ian Dowbiggin, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
Review of the Hardback Edition
'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, USA
'Richard Weikart, the author of this captivating and well-documented book, makes it clear that he intends to provide the reader with a scrupulously historical study of the Darwinian influence on eugenics, euthanasia, racial theory, and militarism in Germany.' - Paola S. Timiras, The European Legacy
From the Inside Flap
-- Ian Dowbiggin, Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of "A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America"
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great book. quite thick, but if you delve into it, it provides a rich store of quality information and ideas.
is this a condemnation of darwin? no. Read more
If you're interested in how Nazi Germany came to embrace natural selection, this is the book. It's excellent. I've looked up many of the sources cited since reading it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by NJ resident
Very useful for college essay I had to write. Very difficult to find in physical bookstores. Only Barnes and Noble could order it and it was much more pricey because they only had... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Emily
German intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th century embraced evolutionary thinking to a degree unknown in any other country. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Thomas Shuford
An exposition of what can happen to a nation who loses their moral compass.Published 19 months ago by Trevor B. Harvey
Well written and well thought out. I imagine none of the people who gave it a one star review actually read it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by HorrorReader
Weikart is probably the world's expert on social darwinism. He says nothing in the book that isn't defended with dozens of quotes from prominent scholars at the time. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by Travis Williams