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on April 29, 2011
I found this book absolutely fascinating. It gives engaging, nuanced, and insightful analysis of the complex interests surrounding these laws and the intersections of disability, class, race, ethnicity, immigration, gender and sexuality they implicate. While these particular laws may have fallen out of favor, the issues remain _highly_ relevant today. I rarely find an "academic" book so readable and compelling.
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on May 27, 2011
The Ugly Laws is a very thorough and interesting historical account of how the disabled were treated and mistreated in America's past. It does have its shortcomings, however. For one thing, it is very verbose and repetitive. It also delves too deeply into side issues such as language semantics and characters in fiction literature. It would have been much better if it had more stories of real people affected by the ugly laws, such as Arthur Franklin Fuller. Still, in spite of its problems, The Ugly Laws captured my attention and kept it for the duration of my reading of it.
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on August 15, 2013
I respect the research Susan Schweik has done in "The Ugly Laws" but found its arcane language and theorizing off-putting. As others have noted, what insight is presented here is buried in highly academic, theoretical language that probably only a few eggheads will fully understand. All the post-modernist buzz words and jargon about heteronormativity, cultural bodies, apparatuses of disruption, Foucault, etc. wore me down and made me lose interest in the jumble of theories. I've read other books about disability and have a graduate degree, so I'm no slacker. It would be nice if academics made some effort to be a little more accessible. I recently read Kim Nielsen's concise A Disability History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) so it can be done. That's probably an unfair comparison, as Schweik's book is a detailed analysis of the ugly laws while Nielsen's is a survey of disability history over several centuries, but I learned and retained a lot more from Nielsen's clearly written, engaging book (including the essence of what one needs to know about the ugly laws). "The Ugly Laws" may indeed be a valuable contribution but it's hard to wade through and I don't recommend it for general readers.
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on August 18, 2014
This is utterly appalling that people were treated so inhumanely due to have disabilities! I'm amazed at how humanity can be towards others that are different from themselves and then to pass laws against innocent persons is unbelievable. My rating does not reflect the author. It's like watching the news and being turned off by all the crime being reported. I would suggest this book to others. I'm keeping it in my library.
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on December 10, 2011
This book has two faces.

On the one hand, it reflects an enormous amount of original research, locating obscure local ordinances from around the country and relying on important archival sources. Kudos to the author for not merely resting on the research of others. I am keeping this book on my shelf as a reference.

But the book is almost impossible to read cover to cover. Instead of just starting with a theoretical framework and using that theory (or theories) to describe the results of the research, the theory overwhelms almost every chapter. And the author seems to continually shift perspectives -- trying in the same page (and sometimes the same paragraph) to describe the enactment and enforcement of the laws as a historical events, critically examine the motives of the actor under various perspectives, and also explain how the incidents were used and understood in the modern disability-rights movement. While each point is important, mushing them together makes it hard to understand anything.
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on September 22, 2014
There is some good research here, but I could not finish this book (I rarely abandon one). Dry & repetitive
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on August 31, 2012
Ugly Laws is an important contribution to disability studies. It is carefully researched, well written and explores and generates important ideas. It is a model of the type of scholarship that will advance this exciting relatively new field.
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on May 17, 2016
This book was one that scared me. Being a victim of polio I could easily have been put away.
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on April 15, 2013
All I can say is buy it! You won't be disappointed only intrigued. Shipped fast and packaged nicely! A Must Read!
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on November 30, 2015
Fascinating and important read!
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