Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics (2023) is among many books I’ve read about the topic
Over the past few years I’ve read several books and articles about the history of eugenics. Among other things, the study of eugenics ties in with the study of totalitarianism, a topic I’ve addressed in previous posts such as:
Beyond Totalitarianism (2009) features specialist essays comparing Nazi and Stalinist mass murder in the 1930s and 1940s
The topic also ties in with institutionalization, legitimization, and sundry related concepts; some previous posts exploring such topics include:
Erving Goffman’s ‘total institutions’ warrant inclusion in a comprehensive theory of management
In Asylums (1961) Goffman analyzes the inner workings of total institutions
An early post, in which I speak about the start of Goffman’s career, is entitled:
Erving Goffman began his graduate work in Chicago in 1945
The current post is devoted to Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics (2023). I’ve been reading an e-Book version of it at the Stratford Public Library website.
A blurb at the Toronto Public Library website for for the book, which is one of a good number of books available on this topic, reads:
How did an obscure academic idea pave the way to the Holocaust within just fifty years? Inspired by Darwin’s ideas about evolution, the concept of race purification through eugenics arose in Victorian England and quickly spread to America, where it was embraced by presidents, funded by Gilded Age monopolists, and enshrined into racist American laws that became the ideological cornerstone of the Third Reich. Despite this horrific legacy, eugenics looms large today, suffusing our language and culture and echoing uneasily in discussions of modern gene editing techniques. In Control, Adam Rutherford presents “a remarkable combination of intelligence, knowledge, insight and admirable political passion, on a serious moral problem in contemporary society.” (Carlo Rovelli). With disarming wit and scientific precision, he traces its intellectual origins and confronts the recurring question of whether eugenics could actually work. Control explains why eugenics remains so tempting to powerful people who wish to improve society through reproductive control, and the scientific impossibility of doing so.
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