War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, Expanded Edition

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9780914153290: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, Expanded Edition

War Against the Weak is the gripping chronicle documenting how American corporate philanthropies launched a national campaign of ethnic cleansing in the United States, helped found and fund the Nazi eugenics of Hitler and Mengele -- and then created the modern movement of "human genetics." Some 60,000 Americans were sterilized under laws in 27 states. This expanded edition includes two new essays on state genocide.

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Review:

The plans of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis to create a Nordic "master race" are often looked upon as a horrific but fairly isolated effort. Less notice has historically been given to the American eugenics movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although their methods were less violent, the methodology and rationale which the American eugenicists employed, as catalogued in Edwin Black's Against the Weak, were chilling nonetheless and, in fact, influential in the mindset of Hitler himself. Funded and supported by several well-known wealthy donors, including the Rockefeller and Carnegie families and Alexander Graham Bell, the eugenicists believed that the physically impaired and "feeble-minded" should be subject to forced sterilization in order to create a stronger species and incur less social spending. These "defective" humans generally ended up being poorer folks who were sometimes categorized as such after shockingly arbitrary or capricious means ! such as failing a quiz related to pop culture by not knowing where the Pierce Arrow was manufactured. The list of groups and agencies conducting eugenics research was long, from the U.S. Army and the Departments of Labor and Agriculture to organizations with names like the "American Breeders Association." Black's detailed research into the history of the American eugenics movement is admirably extensive, but it is in the association between the beliefs of some members of the American aristocracy and Hitler that the book becomes most chilling. Black goes on to trace the evolution of eugenic thinking as it evolves into what is now called genetics. And while modern thinkers have thankfully discarded the pseudo-science of eugenics, such controversial modern issues as human cloning make one wonder how our own era will be remembered a hundred years hence. --John Moe

From the Inside Flap:

"Edwin Black has again written a unique and important book. Until now eugenics in the U.S. and in Germany have not been analyzed together. One assumed they had little in common. This was not so. Their joint past was bloody and their future is disquieting."
—Benno Müller-Hill, Institute of Genetics, Cologne University, author of MURDEROUS SCIENCE

"A gripping account of the evils of eugenics. Edwin Black brings home the misery inflicted by the eugenic zealots."
—Paul Weindling, Department of History, Oxford Brookes University, author of HEALTH, RACE AND GERMAN POLITICS BETWEEN NATIONAL UNIFICATION AND NAZISM, 1870-1940

"Black has conclusively shown that Nazi eugenics was derived from notions espoused by a self-chosen American elite….Hitler and his fanatics further perverted this iniquity in their attempt to exterminate all Gypsies and all Jews, whom they considered racially inferior—that is eugenically inferior. The American antecedents in this book were a revelation to me."
—Robert Wolfe, former chief archivist for captured German records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

"A triumph of historical research and storytelling. It provides new information and insights on the pseudoscience that brought humanity to the brink of creating a monstrous master race."
—J. David Smith, provost and senior vice chancellor, University of Virginia-Wise, author of THE STERILIZATION OF CARRIE BUCK

"[Black] carefully documents the links of the American eugenics movement to the horror of the crimes of Nazi Germany….Black’s careful scholarship will have to make [readers] reconsider the innocence of the acceptance of any simple racist notions by elites."
—William E. Spriggs, executive director, National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality

"An astonishing history…and a gripping narrative. This is a must-read."
—Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League

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