_War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race_ (2003) by Edwin Black is a fascinating history of the rise and role of eugenics in American history and Nazi Germany. The book demonstrates some of the faulty fundamental premises behind the eugenics movement as well as showing some of the horrors that resulted from the implementation of the eugenics in both the United States and Nazi Germany. The book also shows the relationship between eugenicists and social Darwinists in the United States and Adolf Hitler who later adopted many of their ideas to implement in Germany. The book also shows how following World War II eugenics became discredited but was slowly morphed into the new field of genetics which achieved many positive scientific and medical results for humanity. However, with the new field of genetics came the baggage of eugenics and the possibility that eugenics could be implemented again. The book shows how the weak, poor, and "feeble-minded" were particularly targeted by the eugenics movement and many were sterilized in America or euthanized in Germany. The book also shows how ideas of racial supremacy entered into the thinking of eugenicists in their goal of creating a master Nordic race. Many of the individuals targeted by eugenicists had little wrong with them and thus the role of sterilization was completely unnecessary.
The book includes the following chapters-
Introduction - explains the role of eugenics in America and the need to give voice to those never born because of its implementation. Explains some of the misdeeds of eugencists in both America and Nazi Germany (including the role of the Holocaust) and notes the role of prominent organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegies, and Planned Parenthood in implementing eugenics.
Part One: From Pea Pod to Persecution.
Mountain Sweeps - acknowledges the role of poverty in the formulation of eugenics by America's wealthy elite. Explains how many of those particularly among the Brush Mountain "hill folk" of Virginia were targeted by American eugenicists because of their alleged inferiority and "feeble-mindedness". Explains the role of "human engineering" and the frightening possibility that the eugenic crimes of the twentieth century could be repeated.
Evolutions - examines how the Christian worldview which its emphasis on charity came to be overturned. Notes the problem of poverty both in the Middle Ages following the "Black Death" and in industrial England. Notes the role of "paupers" and the role of socially conscious reformers such as the author Charles Dickens who called attention to these matters. Examines the role of Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin in founding the scientific theory of evolution as well as the role of the Czech monk Gregor Mendel in his studies of pea pods which began the science of genetics. Focuses on the life of Francis Galton (a relative of Darwin in Britain) who began scientific and statistical investigations into these matters and who was to coin the term "eugenics". In particular, Galton developed the field of "positive eugenics" in his study of hereditary genius and wealthy families.
America's National Biology - explains how eugenics came to be implemented in the United States following studies of the feminist Victoria Woodhull, the racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard, the Carnegie Institution, and the eugenicist Charles Davenport in his goal of creating a superior "Nordic race". Notes the role of "the Jukes" a small family of "paupers" who served as propaganda for the eugenics movement.
Hunting the Unfit - explains how the "unfit" were singled out by the American Breeder's Association as being harmful to society. Notes the role of epileptics and the "feeble-minded" as being particularly singled out by eugenicists.
Legitimizing Raceology - notes the role of "raceology" as well as the role of IQ tests in legitimizing it. Notes some of the problems encountered by the early eugenicists.
The United States of Sterilization - explains how eugenicists sought to sterilize the "unfit" to prevent them from breeding. Notes the prominent role of eugenicists behind such efforts of sterilization which were implemented in the United States.
Birth Control - notes the role of Margaret Sanger founder of Planned Parenthood in promoting birth control for the poor. Explains how Sanger promoted both abortion and eugenics at the time. Also notes the role of individuals such as Lothrop Stoddard and others.
Blinded - explains the role of eugenicists behind the persecution of the blind who were singled out for their schemes.
Mongrelization - explains the role of the Census Bureau and the relationship between eugenicists who frequently believed in Anglo-Saxon supremacy and other races as well as fear of "mongrelization".
Origins - explains the role of eugenicists in implementing their sterilization techniques which focused particularly on outcaste groups. Examines the role of Charles Davenport behind the eugenics movement (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie). Notes the importance of opposition to immigration (particularly that of Jews, Italians, and Poles) by eugenicists.
Britain's Crusade - notes the role of eugenics in Britain in its goal of sterilizing "paupers" and the other victims of the Industrial Revolution. Notes the role of Charles Davenport in collaborating with Francis Galton and others. Explains the role of Britain's "Poor Laws", illegal surgeries, the Ministry of Health, and other issues behind eugenics in Britain.
Eugenic Imperialism - notes the role of "global eugenics" and the hope of eugenicists to implement eugenics worldwide especially as it concerned the events of World War I. Notes the prominent role of conservationist Madison Grant behind the eugenics movement at this stage.
Eugenicide - explains how the idea of a "lethal chamber" arose in the thinking of various eugenicists at this time as a means to euthanize and exterminate the unfit. In particular, this notion was to play a role in the novels of Robert Chambers, and in the thinking of H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Explains how this notion was used to promote abortion and the euthanasia of deformed infants.
Rasse und Blut - explains how "negative eugenics" came to be implemented in Germany after Adolf Hitler discovered American eugenicists in his _Mein Kampf_. Notes the role of major American eugenicists such as Charles Davenport and Madison Grant in promoting eugenics and raceology in Germany.
Hitler's Eugenic Reich - explains how Hitler came to implement eugenics in Nazi Germany in his persecution of the mentally ill, "feeble-minded", and handicapped. Notes the role and support of American eugenicists including Lothrop Stoddard for these ideas. Explains the race laws in Nazi Germany as well as the role of American companies such as IBM behind eugenics and the death camps. Notes the importance of Catholic opposition to eugenics in Germany as expressed by the pope and also by Catholic thinkers such as G. K. Chesterton in Britain. Explains how Hitler altered eugenic ideas of Anglo-Saxon and "Nordic" supremacy to include Aryan and Teutonic supremacy.
Buchenwald - explains the role of Katzen-Ellenbogen, a psychoanalyst who promoted eugenics and aided German officers, at Buchenwald concentration camp. Explains how Katzen-Ellgenbogen came to counsel German officers who frequently suffered from neuroses caused by the mass killings they were forced to engage in.
Auschwitz - explains the role of Auschwitz concentration camp for implementing human destruction. Notes the prominent role of the eugenic lethal chamber. Shows the inhumane and sick experiments of such individuals as Dr. Josef Mengele on various individuals in the death camps. Notes the prominent role of Nazi science and some of the results that came out of grossly unethical Nazi experimentation. Notes in particular the results of experiments on human reaction to extreme cold and the Nazi doctors' obsession with twins for their experimentation.
From Ashes to Aftermath - explains the end of the Nazi terror at the end of World War II. Notes how the Americans came to make use of Nazi experimentation following the Second World War (medical results obtained from experiments conducted on Nazi victims).
American Legacy - explains how the results of Nazi medical experimentation were brought to America under Project PAPERCLIP. Notes the prominent role of Nazi science for the American military as well as some of the results obtained through unethical experimentation for medical science. Explains the results of various lawsuits filed by the ACLU against the United States for sterilizing the "unfit". Notes the prohibition on marriages for the unfit in the United States as well as the advocacy of sterilization by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in his remark that "three generations of imbeciles is enough".
Eugenics Becomes Genetics - explains the discrediting of eugenics following the end of World War II but the continuing of some eugenics movements. Explains the role of the new science of genetics but notes its tarnished past in eugenics. Explains how genetics has offered many positive contributions to medical science and humanity but also is fraught with certain dangers. Notes the role of Francis Crick and Thomas Watson who helped discover DNA and their eugenic theories.
Newgenics - explains how in the twenty-first century issues raised by eugenics promise to become prominent again. Notes the role of animal cloning and the possibility of human cloning. Notes the role of DNA and genetic testing both for criminal science and the insurance industry (with the dangerous possibility of creating a "genetic underclass"). Notes important issues raised by bioethicists concerning the new industries of genetic engineering and the possibility of the dangers of eugenics becoming prominent again in a brave new world.
This book offers a detailed account of the rise and role of eugenics in America's sordid past. The issue raises many profound philosophical and ethical questions concerning the role of science and bioethics and ethical experimentation. The issue also shows the prominence of race science as well as the role of eugenics in promoting the Nazi state. I felt that while America readily condemns the Nazis it should be noted that many of the ideas implemented by Hitler had their origins in the United States and Britain. Ultimately what becomes of eugenics remains an open question that must be decided by humanity as it approaches a brave new world of genetic engineering.