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Summary

During the first three decades of the 20th century, eugenics, the scientific control of human breeding, was a popular cause within enlightened and progressive segments of the English-speaking world. The New York Times eagerly supported it, gushing about the wonderful "new science." Prominent scientists, such as the plant biologist Luther Burbank, were among its most enthusiastic supporters. And the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations generously funded eugenic research intended to distinguish the "fit" from the "unfit."

This prophetic volume counters the intellectual nihilism of Nietzsche, while simultaneously rebuking Western notions of progress - biological or otherwise. Chesterton expands his criticism of eugenics into what he calls "a more general criticism of the modern craze for scientific officialism and strict social organization."

Public Domain (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Eugenics and Other Evils

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Prescient

GK saw the evil fruit in the seed and tried to warn us. We did not listen. Now we are living in a world with a de facto eugenic mentality.

8 people found this helpful

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Great job

clearly read. interesting and classic philosophy book. would recommend this version to new readers.

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Really very waffly

This book doesn't stick closely enough to the issues of eugenics to be worth your time. It lacks self awareness, paints various groups of people with broad brushes, waffles alot dispite dismaying about other styles of waffle and has increadabley old views on the nature of humans, biology, thiology, sociology and sciance in general, so much so, that this book just isn't valuable in learning about the issue of eugenics. This book's only real use now is as record of historical opinion.

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Superb

Excellent reading for the lifelong learners and the ageless polymath students of all subjects

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A must read, as its going on today ....

Well researched, well written and well read. I would recommend this to anybody wishing to expand their knowledge.

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Good read

I enjoyed the narration and it is engaging. Eugenics is definitely mentioned but speaks of other evils more than I would personally like. Will listen to it again and speaks of a different time which is interesting and speaks of men he interviewed as eugenics scientists and politicians.

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  • Ray
  • 01-02-19

So Many Parallels

this book provides so much insight I can hardly believe it was written almost one hundred years ago. Much like Mein Kampf, the writing slices away at modernity with a double edged sword. As America grows and swells, the people are groaning for a savior. Hopefully this book can help lead someone to Christ because it draws heavily from truths in the Bible.

10 people found this helpful

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  • No to Statism
  • 26-07-19

Truly Great!

This is one of the best G.K. Chesterton audiobooks here on Audible. This is true for 2 reasons. First Mr. Chesterton shares here some of his best insights, and secondly Derek Perkins does a superb job bringing those insights to life! This is certainly one of my favorite audiobooks, and with that, I say thank you Audible for offering it here!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Krieger
  • 18-09-20

Prescient thoughts and logic

I tend to appreciate Chesterton’s thinking and really enjoy his fiction. This work is a wonderful insight into the thoughts and arguments against both early capitalism and early socialism. Interestingly, while I often hear Chesterton quotes from the political right, he’s no friendlier to the capitalist than to the Marxist. Of all his books this does highlight the problematic way in which Chesterton addresses ethnicity and race. While I don’t view him as outright anti-Semitic or racist as some do, he certainly is at best a product of his time. Granted that, the book’s primary logic about the oppression of the poor and disenfranchised by the rich, is apt for our world and the turmoil therein.

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  • K. Doerr
  • 19-01-21

Never more timely

If you don't know the history of the Eugenics movement, and how it swept through academia more than 100 years ago, snaring even Karl Pearson into promoting the idea of Ubermensch, you won't find a funnier introduction to an idea that killed 100 million people than this book.
To fully understand the irony of the current wave of racism, you really need to start with that silly syphilitic Nietzsche, and work your way through Hitler and Rand to our current little titans.
Or, you could read this book. Sort of the Cliff Notes to the devolution of a stupid idea. Clear thinking about how evil people can be when their self-serving biases make them think they are doing good. With jokes.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-21

Not what I was expecting

I was looking for a historical work on the wrongs that were committed in the name of eugenics like Edwin Black's War Against the Weak, but I found this book that is included for audible members. It takes a moralistic stand against the government overreach that was occurring in the name of unproven science that was supposed to make society better by forcing the uneducated to sacrifice for the greater good. Some of the arguments were so applicable to today that I had to double check that it really was written 100 years ago. The titular "other evils" are both capitalism and socialism, both anarchy and totalitarianism. While this moderate view is bound to bother modern readers on both sides of the political spectrum, I find the arguments interesting and worthy of consideration.

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  • Colin C.
  • 12-08-22

Eugenics at it's midpoint

A logical and philosophical argument against Eugenics. I found this work valuable and relative to where the US political social structure is heading, or at, today; c.2022

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  • Jack the Poetry Ripper
  • 15-03-22

Very Applicable

This work is very applicable to modern society, especially considering the rise of the health fascism if the COVID state

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  • KJRK
  • 20-01-22

Surprisingly Relevant

Although Chesterton is riddled with some of the flaws of his time - especially in his perspective on other races - in most other respects he is filled with wisdom and addresses a philosophy which still threatens us today. Great performance as well.

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  • John
  • 14-11-21

Anarchy from Above

While some details have changed in the century since this book first appeared—for example, rather than oppressing the poor with low wages, we now use subsidies—the main thesis stands as true as ever. We moderns may not call it eugenics, but we still dispose of our unwanted in the most up-to-date, scientifically approved manner. It’s just one facet of what Chesterton calls “anarchy from above”:

“Now it is plain that this sort of chaos can possess the powers that rule a society as easily as the society so ruled. And…it is the powers that rule who are chiefly possessed by it—who are truly possessed by devils. The phrase, in its sound old psychological sense, is not too strong. The State has suddenly and quietly gone mad. It is talking nonsense; and it can't stop.”

Yet for all his dire analysis, Chesterton can still make you laugh out loud – a sure sign of his profound sanity. As he says, “We have to be flippant about these things, as the only alternative to being rather fierce.” To reviewers who want to peg him as liberal or conservative, I can only say he was Catholic, and so able to take the best from both sides (no doubt an essential source of his sanity). As with The Everlasting Man, Derek Perkins' delivery suits Chesterton’s style to perfection.

Note: For an historian’s account of the eugenics movement, there’s no better picture that Richard Overy’s The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars.

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  • Alex H.
  • 20-10-21

A still relevant topic in the current year

While Chesterton suffers from some from being very much a man of his time and place, he still lays out eloquent and well-reasoned arguments for his rallying against eugenics and other social ills.