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Customer Review

104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and important, October 26, 2003
This book is a fascinating account of the eugenics movement that flourished in the United States during the first third of the twentieth century. With the help of an international team of researchers the author details the movement's history: creation of the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island; the leadership of poultry researcher Charles Davenport; extensive Harriman, Rockefeller, and Carnegie funding; state laws legalizing compulsory sterilization; widespread acceptance by college presidents, clergymen, mental health workers, school principals, and leading progressive thinkers such as Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Woodrow Wilson; its validation by the United States Supreme Court in 1927 when it voted 8 to 1 to uphold the constitutionality of Virginia's eugenic sterilization law; and much, much more.
The book's most dramatic and controversial conclusion is that the American eugenics movement fueled the triumph of Nazism in Germany and thereby helped bring on the Holocaust. As Black writes in his Introduction, "the scientific rationales that drove killer doctors at Auschwitz were first concocted on Long Island at the Carnegie Institution's eugenic enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor." To his credit he provides a great deal of evidence to make his contention plausible, if not totally convincing.
The extremes to which the Nazis took their eugenics--euthansia killings of "unfit" Germans and the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, and others--gave eugenics a bad name from which it never recovered. This important book sheds much needed light on one of the darkest and most bizarre chapters of American history.
Charles Patterson, Ph.D., author of ETERNAL TREBLINKA: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 16, 2009 9:58:47 AM PDT
Gerhardtj says:
Good overview that motivated me to put the book onto my order list.

Posted on Mar 22, 2010 10:16:33 PM PDT
Ali says:
Thank you for the lucid review.

Posted on Jul 29, 2012 11:05:01 PM PDT
applewood says:
Fascinating history, but it doesn't sound like it covers post WW2 eugenics in America? Is there any mention of what's been done more recently?

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 1:39:57 PM PST
Charles Patterson writes, "The extremes to which the Nazis took their eugenics--euthansia killings of "unfit" Germans and the extermination of Jews, Gypsies, and others--gave eugenics a bad name from which it never recovered."

This statement is plausible enough, and thus easily overlooked. But it's wrong nevertheless. And it's not only wrong, it is dangerous. For history is already busily repeating itself, and if we believe Mr Patterson, we might sleep right through it.

It was not the "extremes" to which the nazi's took the eugenic doctrine that gave it a bad name; it was simply the fact that the Nazi's LOST THE WAR. Criminals - of all stripes and all educational levels - are not terribly afraid of being associated with other criminals, not even with the extremists among them. They are terribly afraid only of being associated with the LOSERS. This is because they lack a moral compass and hence make their distinctions not on the basis of moral criteria, but on the basis of power or lack of it, success or failure, victory or defeat.

Think about it: why is it that the French Revolution does NOT have such a bad name? Is it because its atrocities were less atrocious? Very unlikely. So why is it? Of course part of the explanation is: the Freemasons. Had it not been for their vigorous propaganda, the French Revolution would have been seen as a 'bloc' of hybris, bloodshed and hypocrisy rather than a 'bloc' of what they call freedom, equality and brotherhood. But the historical outcome played a more important role. For if the French Revolution had been crushed the way the Third Reich was crushed, the Masonic fervour would surely have been crushed along with it. But it wasn't, and that, much more than any dearth of atrocities, is why the bloody farce called French Revolution has retained its good name.

Nor is there that much difference between those who want to kill aristocrats because they are aristocrats and those who want to kill Jews because they are Jews. Or is there? What they have in common is that they want to kill people, and that the people they want to kill belong to a group that is relatively scattered and defenseless, and defined not by choice or conviction but by the accident of their birth.

Well, the mindset that made the atrocities happen is still with us - abundantly so and powerfully so. It is the mindset of the Elite. Whether they call it Family Planning or Forced Depopulation, it is now going on and will be stepped up soon.

They cannot help themselves. They are just spoiled children, wielding lethal toys and persuading adult humanity to disarm and then to freeze, group by group, so as the more easily to be shot dead. For its own good, of course.

They really HATE for their targets to fight back.

Shall we oblige them?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 2:47:32 PM PST
applewood says:
Well put Koen de Groot!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 12:41:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 11:33:46 PM PST
Ali says:
Eugenics is the mindset of everyday people. Most people 'wish' to be elite. The negative eugenics movement proliferated since masses of everyday people---not only the social elite---found the rhetoric and activities expedient to their own agenda within their own lives. Thus, yes, negative eugenics is still happening, embedded within our biomedical ideology.

Although family planning is not motivated by mere altruism, it is not merely pernicious, however. Would one prefer the days when having a sex life gave one a dozen children? Population growth is not an especial problem today because, like it or not, eugenicists curtailed it while the rest of us were fixated on petty rivalries.

Those who gave us family planning also gave us the institutions and technology enabling us to sit here criticizing eugenics. We common folk did not accomplish by ourselves all that we take for granted. To move forward, and further improve society, we must move beyond the germ theory of sociology.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2012 9:42:02 AM PST
Karl Towers says:
Ali, the expansion of wealth and therefore standard of living is the reason for the reduced birth rate, it is not the result of eugenics. The more affluent people become, the fewer children they tend to have. Birth control methods are not rocket science, after all. The necessary technology would have been developed alongside other technologies as a matter of course.

"To move forward, and further improve society, we must move beyond the germ theory of sociology."

This sounds very much like a progressive mantra for social experimentation. You should explain what you mean by "moving forward" and "improving" society. Who gets to decide what that means?

Posted on Sep 16, 2013 12:50:55 PM PDT
"The extremes to which the Nazis took their eugenics...gave [it] a bad name from which it never recovered."

I'd add "thankfully", to the above. Why would anyone wish it to recover? As Mr. Towers wrote, who gets to make decisions about what amounts to "genetic cleansing."
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