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A timely and gripping history of the controversial eugenics movement in America–and the scientists, social reformers and progressives who supported it.
In Better for All the World, Harry Bruinius charts the little known history of eugenics in America–a movement that began in the early twentieth century and resulted in the forced sterilization of more than 65,000 people. Bruinius tells the stories of Emma and Carrie Buck, two women trapped in poverty who became the test case in the 1927 supreme court decision allowing forced sterilization for those deemed unfit to procreate. From the reformers who turned local charities into government-run welfare systems promoting social and moral purity, to the influence the American policies had on Nazi Germany’s development of “racial hygiene,” Bruinius masterfully exposes the players and legislation behind one of America’s darkest secrets.
“A powerful and engrossing read, as well as a poignant argument for humility, a plea that resonates in these hubristic times.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Remarkable. . . . A model of the best sort of journalism of ideas, being an impressively researched and well-thought-out cultural history of the horrible crimes committed in the name of an idea–eugenics–that fraudulently posed as a science.”
—Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
“A comprehensive new history of the American eugenics movement . . . Compelling.” —Salon
“Bruinius takes us into the minds of the thought leaders of the time, showing us how otherwise well-respected people could countenance the now-unthinkable act of forced sterilization. . . . Chilling.”
—The Christian Science Monitor