Control: Now the major BBC Radio 4 series BAD BLOOD (Hardback)Adam Rutherford (author)
The popular geneticist and author of How to Argue With a Racist delivers a sobering, highly informative account of the eugenics movement from its origins in Darwinian evolutionary theory through its adoption by totalitarian regimes such as the Third Reich to the tech based arguments being made today.
Throughout history, people have sought to improve society by reducing suffering, eliminating disease or enhancing desirable qualities in their children. But this wish goes hand-in-hand with the desire to impose control over who can marry, who can procreate and who is permitted to live. In the Victorian era, in the shadow of Darwin's ideas about evolution, a new full-blooded attempt to impose control over unruly biology began to grow in the clubs, salons and offices of the powerful. It was enshrined in a political movement that bastardised science, and for sixty years enjoyed bipartisan and huge popular support: eugenics.
Eugenics was vigorously embraced in dozens of countries. It was also a cornerstone of the Third Reich, and forged a path that led to the gates of Auschwitz. But the ideas underlying eugenics are not merely historical. Its legacies persist in our language and literature, from the words 'moron' and 'imbecile' to the themes of some of our greatest works of culture. Today, with new gene editing techniques, very real conversations are happening - including in the heart of British government - about tinkering with the DNA of our unborn children, to make them smarter, fitter, stronger.
Control tells the story of attempts by the powerful throughout history to dictate reproduction and regulate the interface of breeding and society. It is an urgently needed examination that unpicks one of the defining and most destructive ideas of the twentieth century. To know this history is to inoculate ourselves against its being repeated.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 400 g
Dimensions: 274 x 194 x 26 mm
A remarkable combination of intelligence, knowledge, insight and admirable political passion, on a serious moral problem in contemporary society - CARLO ROVELLI
A short, sharp, illuminating overview of the science, politics, uses and abuses of human gene editing - Tim Adams, OBSERVER, Book of the Week
Weighty and serious but accessible and perfectly pitched. The scholarship is astounding - ALICE ROBERTS
A clear-sighted look at the past and present dangers of eugenics. Rutherford tells [the story] with great concision and with clarity, both scientific and moral. [He] condenses tricky concepts into smart and often witty prose, combining erudition with humility . . . honest, informed and humane - Philip Ball, FINANCIAL TIMES
Breathtakingly brilliant and dark, a popular science book that doesn't talk down to you. - Alex Preston in the i paper
CONTROL is persuasive, sensible and ultimately reassuring, but it is not complacent . . . To know history is "to inoculate ourselves against its being repeated", Rutherford argues. From that perspective, this book is a shot worth having - Katy Guest, GUARDIAN, Book of the Day
Genetics has attracted brilliant, visionary scientists. It has attracted racists and charlatans. CONTROL skilfully weaves together these two strands of the discipline's history - HELEN LEWIS
There are many involving arguments, historical surprises, detailed case studies and amiable jokes in this book, and you'll finish it with renewed respect for, and interest in, what real scientists do - Sam Leith, SPECTATOR
[Rutherford's] scientific demolition of the eugenic project is brilliantly illuminating and compelling. His book will be indispensable for anyone who wants to assess the wild claims and counter-claims surrounding new genetic technologies - John Gray, NEW STATESMAN
Discussions around the idea of population control are increasingly resurfacing. CONTROL's strength is that it provides not only much-needed guidance for these conversations by reminding us of the horrors of the past, but also uses scientific evidence to dismantle the viability of these ideas - Layal Liverpool, NEW SCIENTIST
Rutherford's swift, well-written account of these fascinating scientific and moral issues is well worth a read - Emma Duncan, THE TIMES, Book of the Week
Rutherford sharply undermines the old trope that science is detached from politics, showing that to stand on the shoulders of giants is no barrier to recognising their flaws and fetishes. A vital warning from both history and science of the quiet horrors that can ensue if society becomes overconfident in its ability to 'improve' the population. Smart and surprisingly entertaining - CAROLINE DODDS PENNOCK
Rutherford presents a profoundly sensible take on the complexities of history . . . an important book - MAIL ON SUNDAY
Fizzy and pugnacious . . . brilliant . . . A fierce and funny broadside against eugenics and its admirers - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Rutherford takes us on a journey that encompasses both the history of eugenics and its current-day practice . . . aninsightful and compelling study - i NEWSPAPER
Few are as well-qualified to perform the necessary demolition [of eugenics] as Adam Rutherford - Dominic Lawson, DAILY MAIL, Book of the Week
Insightful and compelling - Sharron Logan, PRESS ASSOCIATION review syndicated across regional press
An important book . . . It might be true, as Rutherford claims, that "eugenics is a busted flush, a pseudoscience that cannot deliver on its promise", but this book is a reminder of why we must remain vigilant - THE TABLET
An insightful and compelling look into the story of eugenics, showing how its legacies are still prevalent in language and literature today. It's a hard one to put down . . . Rutherford makes it easy to digest - DAILY RECORD
From Victorian polymaths to Nazi breeding programmes, Rutherford traces the history of eugenics with punch and brio - but his book really shines when it takes aim at contemporary pseudoscience. - THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Adam Rutherford introduces Control
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