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Summary

From the Sunday Times best-selling author of How to Argue with a Racist.

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 our 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 60 years enjoyed bipartisan and huge popular support.

Eugenics was vigorously embraced in dozens of countries. It was also a cornerstone of Nazi ideology, and forged a path that led directly to the gates of Auschwitz. But the underlying ideas are not merely historical. The legacy of eugenics persists 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 20th century. To know this history is to inoculate ourselves against its being repeated.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Adam Rutherford (P)2022 Weidenfeld & Nicolson

What listeners say about Control

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  • Overall
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Fascinating

I had no idea that Eugenics was so widespread. An excellent listen, but also quite depressing when you realise just how awful humans can be too each other.

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Excellent as always

Dr Rutherford communicates complex science into entertaining informative prose. A joy to listen and learn the history and perfect debunking of the nonsense that is political eugenics based on ideology fantasy.

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Another superb work by Adam

An entertaining and interesting read on how screwed up our society was and, to some extent, still is. As always with Adam Rutherford books this is informative, very well written, thought-provoking, witty and, ultimately, hopeful and inspiring.

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informative, clear and engaging

strikes the right balance of depth of information and accessibility for the average person.

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Another good book by the reliable Adam Rutherford

Yet another good book by Adam Rutherford.
Like his previous books he narrates it himself and has a very clear and interesting voice.
This book contains a lot of material that I have read in his other books hence the 4bstar overall rating.
Rutherford is the best antidote to the Mad ideas put out by Eugenicists past and present. The conclusion is very telling when he states that the Wars, financial disasters, genocides and other horrible scars on our presence on the planet has been caused by the rich and powerful not the so-called less-than-average people who many of the Eugenecist would have controlled or eradicated in order to make their perfect world.
I suspect that if we were ever to get to the nightmare of their dreams they would be disappointed at the outcomes as they give birth to less-than-perfect progeny!

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Essential reading

Concise, revealing commentary on scientific brilliance, its abuse in practice and misunderstanding to form flawed policy, ultimately resulting in the greatest crimes against humanity the world has ever seen.

A lesson in history and how similar views are espoused today, a sobering warning to prevent its being repeated.

Everyone needs to read this book.